The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 6 October 2019

How to beat rising prices like Nanna did and how to make meat go further.

We have all noticed rising meat prices.  In Australia there is a major and long lasting drought and this is one of the reasons for it here.  But still very often I am shocked at the price of meat.  And the things that were once cheap are no longer.  It is nothing for even ground meat (mince) to be $15 a kilo.
So that will be my first tip... just because something used to be the cheaper option it may no longer be! Don't assume your old favourite is still better value.  Look elsewhere!

My Nan used to cook a Sunday roast lunch for the whole family.  We would go to church them meet at Nan and Pa's for a beautiful roast meal.  From memory there were usually ten or so of us.  As a kid it never once occurred to me how much this would have cost my Grandparents.  I do know they used to study the catalogues and specials and store hop to get them.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I realised some of the yummy things I loved were in fact clever ways Nan made the meat go much further.  She had many tricks and no one noticed!  And this is the thing... no one does notice. When the food is delicious and stomaches are full everyone is just happy!

We always had a lot of different vegetables and side dishes.  One I have mentioned before is a really simple one Nan made to go with roast meat.  It was a cooked up mix of onion, tomato, zucchini and whatever else was on hand and baked with bread crumbs and cheese over the top.  I loved this.  I make it every Christmas day in memory of Nan.   You can find this recipe here.   And it there are left overs of this I make little spaces in the pie plate and crack eggs into them.  Then I bake it as a breakfast or brunch.  It is delicious!

Nan very often served soup and/or desert.  These in themselves fill you up or in the case of hungry teenagers and hard working people they slow them down!
After we all went home I know Nan used every bit of meat and any left overs!  The bone from the roast then became the base of a soup.  One of her soups I have never been quite able to replicate but it was the bone from the roast lamb,  soup bean mix, loads of veggies and pepper.  This was all cooked down and blended.   I grew up on my bowls of this delicious soup.   After a roast the bone still has just a ton of goodness and a surprising amount of meat left on it.

Roast chickens or turkeys were made into stock.   A stock has so much goodness and then is a nutritious base for further soups.  You can also cook your rice or pasta in stock rather than water to add extra goodness.  If you freeze some stock (or can it) whenever there is sickness in the house you can make chicken soup very quickly.  Both itself is so full of nutrients. I am noticing bone broth now is the in thing and sold in supermarkets.  I use the tip to add a seals of vinegar to the bones you are cooking up to draw out the goodness.

This is how Mum and Nan talked.  Cooking for your family was about giving them nourishment and as much "goodness" as possible.  It wasn't meant to be fancy, it was meant to be nutritious.  The water from cooking veggies and the juices in the pan from roasting all were used as they all had nutrients.   Pan juices and vegetable water made the gravy.  Full of goodness!  It would have been a crime to pour something with nutrients in it down the drain.  It went into something.  Think about this. What goodness do you waste?

One of the most expensive types of meats are deli meats.  All the sliced up and packaged hams are incredibly expensive.  If you work out the price per kilo it is shocking.  Also generally they have preservatives and things added.  Going to the deli and buying it there rather than the pre packaged ones is cheaper but still expensive.  Neither Mum nor Nan ever bought this.  And neither do I.
Instead left over roast meat or extra meat was roasted, usually on a Sunday.   When it was cold it was sliced up thinly to make up sandwiches and rolls for the working week (or school week).  I still do this.  I always watch out for meat on special that can be roasted.  If I find a ham I will still roast that as it improves it so much.  Most often we will have some dinners from it and many things make from the cold roast meat.  It is not a small saving.  Packaged deli meats mostly work out from $30 to $40 a kilo.  You have a whole chicken for $10. There is no comparison.   Lately the cheapest roast meat has been chicken but I see specials and markdowns and swoop!   After Christmas and New Year I found hams marked down and this was a great way to build up lunch meats supplies.  A piece of corned beef cooking in the slow cooker will make lots of lunches.  If you roll your cooked corned beef in cracked pepper and a little oil and roast this, then you have Pastrami!!   Once cold slice that thinly.  It will give you just a ton of "deli meat."   Because this has a strong flavour it will go further too!

That gets me to my next point.  If you have family members who are big meat eaters and object to meatless meals then choosing meats with a big flavour impact gives the impression of more.  Bacon,  chorizo, salami etc. all have a big burst of flavour and you don't need much.   So you can make pizza, fried rice, frittatas, salads, cheese boards etc all seem to be meaty but for very little.  Some things are perception, it is not really a meat meal it more has meat as a garnish.  

Of course then you have meatless meals too.  I always serve protein so if we have a meatless meal it will be based around eggs or cheese mostly.

Different countries have their own special "stretch the meat" tricks.  The English have Yorkshire Puddings and I notice these are becoming popular here.  Indian cuisine has so many beautiful sauces and spices and Naan Bread so that with all of these little bowls of sides you have a surprisingly small meat dish that just goes miles.

We are so lucky now that any skill we want to learn is as simple as a quick search on You Tube or a bit of a Google to find instructions.  I like that you can Google "How to...." basically anything!  And there are really simple instructions and pictures for a free lesson.   If you don't already know how to make stock or bone broth then next  time you have bones from a roast learn these skills.  Then learn how to add this goodness to another meal.   Try some recipes and make a tray of Yorkshire Puddings!  Or my Nans Tomato pie.  Use what you have too as your number one meal stretcher!

Very often my meaty meals are a slow cooker casserole.  I put in a lot of vegetables.  They are usually served then with more vegetables, rice or mashed potato.  So my cook up makes a lot of meals.

The soft cooked down meat from the slow cooker is just ideal to make up meat pies.  And they freeze well.   Your pies are a very good all in one meal. The type of thing to pull out of the freezer when life has meant you are too busy or unwell to bake.

 You can find some good combinations for the slow cooker and pie making here.  (And some of my saving calculations I did at the time.) I just keep ready pastry on hand in the freezer as so often a bit of meat and a few veggies get me an extra dinner... or several.  Even if not enough for a meal I might have enough for a couple of individual little pies to use for a lunch.  Very handy!
Sometimes I will not have much meat left but still get out the pie maker and make some pies for dinner or to put away for later.  A big stretcher of left overs!

A lady I spoke to in the supermarket last week told me how she is a basic cook and her daughter and son in law are foodies and they came to dinner.  She was a bit nervous as the SIL is new to the family.   And at home they have pretty fancy meals.   But she thought she would go with what she knows and she did roast beef with lots of roast veggies and gravy.   Well, the son in law could not stop talking about how beautiful it was!   It was if an old fashioned roast dinner was a new invention!  And really who can beat this?  Some things are classics for a reason!  
When I do a roast now it is just the two of us I cook extra veggies.  When I plate up I serve dinner and then another dinner goes into a casserole dish.   Then I skip a night and we have a roast meal again.  This gives me a night off!   Left over meat becomes lunches.   Last week I still had meat so I made up a heap of rolls and froze them.   I stick to roast meat, butter, pepper and maybe mustard or cheese.  Andy loves them and these freeze perfectly.  Even if he is driving into town he will grab a roll to take with him.  These save us a lot.

I loved a tip from Jamie Oliver which was to make a whole heap of extra stuffing and cook it in a loaf pan.  This way each person doesn't just get stuffing from inside a chicken or turkey but there is a ton extra. Genius!  I always liked the stuffing best when I was a kid.  Imagine how much further a roast would go with slices of stuffing added to the plate!

Mum used to make left over roast meat fritters.   Usually they had roast meat, corn, egg, flour and milk to make a fritter and fry it.  As kids we loved these.  Of course there are Shepherds Pies also.

I hear lots of ladies say that if they make planned left overs they are just eaten.  Well, I have been through this.  You have to be tricky.  You can ask  "would anyone like anymore?" and have extra rice, veggies or other bits and pieces.  Or dessert.  But you need to have dealt with and hidden the meat!  I usually serve up what I want for the next meal and set it well aside.  I also write on things i.e. "Friday nights dinner" so there are no illusions it is free to eat! You have to do what works for you here but there is nothing wrong with teaching kids about the budget, planing etc.   We were never free to just raid the fridge.  We always asked if there was anything to eat.  My daughters were not free to help themselves either.  I always had afternoon tea ready after school and THIS was afternoon tea.  They didn't go grab what was set aside to be lunches, dinners etc. So if you have good plans messed up by others then change what you do.  Keeping in the budget is important!

The area of menu planning is another big thing here.  Plan around what you already have and what you find on great deals or markdowns.  I have stalked the mark down person many times for some great deals!  I get asked how am I so lucky on finding mark downs?  How do I know when is the best time to find them?  There is no science to it, I just ask the staff.  I have never had anyone refuse to tell me.  Most of the staff also are on budgets and find meat expensive!  So I just ask and try to shop at the good times.  Also if possible I shop late when I know that store will be closed tomorrow.  I follow the catalogues and Facebook pages of butchers and meat wholesalers.  One wholesaler we found has a weekly email.  Some of their best specials have been just incredible!    I have also phone butchers and asked questions like "what would be your best price on 50 kilos of ground beef?"  as often buying a big lot of something and dividing it up yourself saves a lot of money.  And asking can't hurt, right?

Packaging is another...  buying a whole side of lamb or some kind of bulk pack can save you a lot but, yes,  then you need to package it up into nice meal sized portions for your family.  But this is a huge saver.  I also do mixed grill packs where there is a smaller serving of steak or lamb but also a sausage per person.   When you need to serve up a BBQ and feel you need a lot of meat mix it up... a little bit of streak and a lot of sausages, burgers, onion rings, potato bake, salads, breads...  it can be all smoke and mirrors that you spent a lot on meat.

Now there are lots of other ways to stretch a meal i.e. beans, textured vegetable protein...  I will leave some of these to you as these are two I don't do.  However I do add granted carrot to sausage roll meat and I put lots of grated or chopped veggies into my spaghetti bolognese sauce mix. And a lot of onion.  I would say I double my volume of meat easily with zucchini, capsicum, spinach, mushrooms, parsley... depending on what I have.  No one even knows it is there.  In fact if you are a Mum wishing to get more veggies into the kids look up Jamie Oliver's seen veg sauce.  Once you have this you can make pasta, pizza etc all so full of veggies!

To make meat sauce go further with pasta you can make a lasagne with some layers of vegetables instead of the meat sauce and your cheese sauce or béchamel sauce really fills up the dish and is delicious.  So if I am making a spaghetti dish I will often do a cheese sauce also .... this will usually mean I end up with heaps of meat sauce left for other meals.

You can sneak a lot of extras into curries, meatloaf, casseroles.  The sky is the limit really.  To each you can add so many side dishes.  It is time to get creative!

When shopping look in the places you usually skip.  The price of chicken will vary widely depending on the cut.  It is often cheaper to get a whole chicken than two chicken breasts!  Then the prices will vary from what is in the fresh meat section to what is over in the deli section.  Then explore the freezer section.  For some recipes you could also consider canned.   Don't assume which will be the best deal.  The deli section of the supermarket often has amazing end of the day specials too.   A few years ago I stocked up big time on turkeys from the freezer section after New Years Day. Suddenly they just decided enough with turkeys and cleared them all out!  My only restraint was freezer space.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!  Break out of your usual shops and routines.  Try markets, supermarkets that are further away, wholesalers... if you know someone who has a business maybe they will let you shop at their wholesaler?  Try new recipes.  Learn learn learn!
Attend to re packaging and freeze your meat.  Letting things sit in the fridge until you figure out what to do with it can lead to wasted product.  Add a side dish so maybe your dinners worth of protein will in fact be enough for two nights.   Use things up as they need using rather than cooking "what you  feel like" and menu plan this way!

Really old style cook books tend to be wonderful for basic ingredients and using up the cheaper cuts of meat.  I use my slow cooker a lot. Meats that are tougher or harder to deal with turn out melt in your mouth tender.  Some thing that has turned out tough can be re cooked and made into pies.  I have had a few things that were less than spectacular that I have added a sauce to, cooked for the whole day in the slow cooker,  and turned into tender and good pie filing!

If you have tips on how you save in this area, things your Nanna used to make or other tips please do share.   Between us and the different countries we come from we can probably come up with so many more savings.

Have a good new week!  It is a public holiday here for us tomorrow. It has been drizzling... I hope it keeps going! xxx


  1. Very good post. So many people think that meat needs to be the main event - it just needs to a side like everything else. I eat a lot less meat now that I am alone.
    My Mom always had big Sunday dinners and it seemed everyone showed up. She made a lot of sides, especially either baked macaroni and cheese or potato salad - which everyone loved. She knew they would! Also she made noodles and or mashed potatoes - both were filling.
    She made 'meat pie' which was always my favorite with any leftover roast. Lots of veggie and of course the crust. Little meat - but boy was it yummy.
    Thanks for this series. It reminds me so much of my Mom.

  2. Your are a source of so much useful information!

    I would never have thought of phoning the butcher to ask for a price on a bulk lot of meat - a great idea.

    One small suggestion; I recently had some left over stuffing from a roast chicken and added it to the soup I made using the carcass - the herbs in it helped provide wonderful flavour and it thickened the broth, making for a heartier soup.

    Do you know the recipe book called "The Everlasting Meal?" It's mostly an exploration of the way our mothers/grandmothers prepared meals and includes common sense 'tricks' that have gotten lost along the way. I'm sure you'd enjoy it.

    1. Hi Judy,
      I've had that book for several years .
      It is a wonderful resource. Cookie

    2. Judy, I do that with leftover stuffing too. I will have to have a loo for that book sounds interesting.

  3. Something I find invaluable in my kitchen is my electronic slicer. It is a Bosch brand so it is really durable and has speed settings on it- meat, bread, veg and cheese. I bought it used on eBay for $20 after the one I had died after only 20 years!!

    I keep it out on my counter because I use it almost every day! My daughter who has just begun more intentional food storage and meal planning now that they are out on 13 acres in the country, asks me all the time about meat price points that I have!
    She wanted to get some stew beef because they use it in several different meals. She saw it on sale at the store for $5.49/pound rather than the regularly mark price of $5.99/pound. She called me from the store to see if I agreed that this was a “stock-up” price. I told her that my current price point before I would buy it was $3.29/pound. She was shocked until I explained that I would look at lots of different cuts of boneless beef on sale- roasts, steaks, etc for that sale price and buy whichever one reached that price point. She waited and we found a sale a few days later for boneless London broil and also pot roast for $2.97/pound! We both bought 15 pounds and I showed her how I cut those into slices with my slicer and then used my kitchen scissors to cut the slices into strips and then chunks and VOILA! , it became stew beef. I also let her in on the secret that much of the stew beef chunks in the meat department have been made from steaks and roasts that are getting older in the meat department! We took some of the boneless London broil and thin-sliced it with the slicer, cut it into strips with kitchen scissors and then cut long strips into shorter ones for stir fry dinners which also stretch meat a long way!
    I also, like you, buy ham(I prefer boneless and have certain times that it reaches my stock up price point), turkey breast and thin slice it using my slicer for deli meats!

    So, my $20 investment in a well made electronic slicer paid for itself the first week I had it and continues to save us a fortune on meats. (As well as breads, cheeses, etc!)

  4. One tip passed down from wartime cookery is to add a couple of tablespoons of porridge oats to your minced meat when making shepherds pie. Stir it in after browning the meat and it not only thickens the gravy but adds bulk and fibre to the finished dish. My children never detected it.

  5. My maternal grandmother died when I was young but her efforts to feed a family of five men and my mother are the stuff of family legend. She was a professional pastry chef and I am sure that helped her feed her family during the depression and the extended rationing during WWII.

    You mention Yorkshire pudding. Traditionally the pudding was served with gravy as an entree. This filled hungry bellies and made that oh so expensive protein go much further. My family is from Yorkshire. Dumplings are another stretch the meal idea.

    My mother used to serve meat and seven vegetables most nights and she didn't really tolerate my "fussiness". It turns out that I am allergic to basic foods such as eggs and am now on the FODMAP diet and my foods are restricted. It does make life a little more expensive but I do the best I can to feed everyone on a limited budget and food choices.

  6. Mom's most requested meal at family gatherings was her "Dutch meat". The cheapest chuck roast available. She melted a cube of butter, browned on all sides and placed in a glass dish. Make 1 batch of brown gravy and pour over the meat. Add water to cover the meat completely. 350F for 1 hour, then reduce to 250 for another 2-3 hours. Always served with mashed potatoes and a mountain of veggies. She's been gone 12 years already. Most of us kids still make it and her grandkids ask for it :-)

    1. That sounds wonderful. I'll be borrowing your Mom's recipe :D

  7. What a helpful post Annabel! So much good information here. I save a great deal on ground beef by (sometimes) substituting ground turkey, which works great in certain meals, such as meat sauce for pasta dishes. Also, I have been making egg roll in a bowl (using ground turkey again) with a huge pan of baked (yes, baked!) brown rice. The brown rice stretches any meal and is full of nutrients and is very inexpensive in the USA. My Mother used brown rice and lots of bread and rolls to streatch meals so that huge amounts of meat were not necessarily needed. I also use beans mixed with taco meat to stretch it out. Black beans are my favorite and are also super inexpensive and filled with protein. I have been cooking more this past year and freezing meals, which is helping our budget. Have a great week, Bluebirds! Love, Teresa

  8. Dear Annabel,
    I don't know if you've ever heard the term when it came to meat "snout to tail". Pretty much it describes making use of the entire animal using all edible parts. That's how my two Nana's were as well as my mom. The three of them taught me a lot in this
    Area in saving on meat and poultry. Here ground chuck (mince) or any other quality ground meat can run as high as $8 a pound when a roast of the same cut can be on sale for$3 to $4 s pound. Like my Nana's, when this happens I do what they did and by the largest roasts I can and divide it up. Some I will grind for hamburger meat, part will be cut into stew beef, some I will cut into steak and some will remain as a roast. My Nana's never bought cut up chickens but bought whole roasters and cut them up into parts themselves. The back, necks and giblets, as well as the leftover bones carcass and pan juices were saved to make delicious soup and gravies. The chicken livers were saved and pates were made and any fat was rendered to be used to fry eggs etc. I never saw anything wasted from a chicken. Knowing how to do this I very rarely if ever buy anything precut.

    Online I have found easy recipes to make that will give you the taste of pepperoni, salami and corned beef without the curing process and only require the spices and letting it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two for the flavors to come together and then slow baking it. I generally have a couple of these in the freezer as they are so easy to make.

    Buying in bulk when possible also saves us a lot. When "family"
    packs of items such as ground turkey go on sale we buy it and season it like sausage and make our own patties. Where we live in the USA, after holidays or sports events, meats that are associated with those holidays or events are drastically reduced.

    Hope this is helpful. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Cookie, In my family the phrase is everything but the 'oink' or 'moo'...

  9. We have been going through phases in our household where we eat vegetarian every second night. When I have busy phases in life, I slip into the old habits and meals because that’s what I know best, but we’ve certainly moved away from high meat consumption in general in our household. This is partly driven by meat prices, partly by animal welfare concerns, and partly by environmental concerns. No one in the family misses the meat, and I’m learning new recipes. I would encourage everyone to include a minimum of 2 nights a week meat free, it’s good for the wallet and so many other reasons.

  10. Thank you for all these reminders of savings that can be made in the kitchen. We always had a baked dinner on Saturday night and the leftovers for Sunday lunch. Mum said it was too much to try and cook a baked dinner after church. In the summer it was leftover lamb or chicken with salad and in the winter with hot vegetables. Mince in its many forms was served quite often during the week and we never noticed. As you said it was all good nourishing food.
    My kids were never good veg eaters when they were small so all the vegetables were hidden in the food. They now eat almost anything!
    Jamie Oliver's new show about vegetables is very interesting and while I still eat meat it seems to be less important.

  11. Hi Annabel, thank you for this very good post. What a very good idea to cut up your roast meat and make rolls, this makes good use of left over roasts, but also saves time, when life is so busy. I am really enjoying this series. Thank you

  12. Thank you Annabel for another wonderful thought provoking post and subject :).

    When buying meat we are always on the look out for items that are reduced or on special and it saves us a heap usually anywhere from 40 % to sometimes 100 + % of what other stores are charging. We check both the deli departments and the meat display cabinets and compare prices before buying. Sometimes the deli meats (chicken,fish and preserved meats) are reduced by 50% and then we will buy the lot and stock up the freezer with by packaging them in meal sized portions.

    Also I will say as meat is really expensive at the moment to look up the serving sizes recommended on government sites as you would be surprised at how little meat a person needs to eat in a day. Small amounts of meat can be packed out with things like beans, peas and mushrooms to add extra protein and use less meat.

    Another thing to think about is how much bone is in the meat you are buying ?, as you are paying for the bone percentage content. For instance a whole chicken has about 40% bone as do chicken drumsticks but bone in chicken thigh cutlets have around 28% bone so a better value to buy than a whole chicken or drumsticks if they are the same price as you will get more meat. We add the percentage of bone to the price to work out what is the best buy per kg.

    With any whole roasts, if we can get them at a reasonable price, we will have a roast dinner the first night with lots of vegetables. Then we will slice the remaining meat up and package them in 200 g lots (for the two of us) for the freezer to use for meals like stir fries, to make meat and vegetable pies with homemade white cheese sauce inside, to make meat and vegetable fritters or for sandwiches for lunches or in summer a side with homemade pasta or potato salad.

    By doing this we can get for example from a 2.5 kg roasted chicken about 5 meals for the two of us. With the pan juices we wait for it to cool and skim the fat off and use that as stock for homemade soups and things.

    With pan juices, and in the pan it was cooked in on hotplates on the top of the stove, my depression era grandmother used to add a bit of vegemite/marmite to it (she would often put in a bit of hot water in the jar and shake it to get the last out of an almost empty jar) and stir through and then add flour and stir it through to make the gravy and it was delicious.

    There are so many ways to save on meat purchases and expenses in our budgets if we really think about it :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

  13. Another good Nana post. I love how your Nana had everyone over for dinner. What a great thing to do to keep family together even if it would be only once a month. We have had extra medical expense lately so need to work more on stretching my meat. I wish I had more energy to shop more. Love putting things in the freezer but need to learn how to do more gluten free things. Always something more to learn! Have a good week. Nancy

  14. A very quick change I made was that I used to package meat in 500g portions and started only putting in 450g. An instant saving of 10% and you don't notice the tiny bit missing at all.

  15. My Mom has fond memories of Sunday roast dinners at her grandmothers and I have the same fond memories of my own Mom making the big roast dinner on Sundays. I remember coming in the door from church and smelling that wonderful Sunday dinner aroma of the roast in the oven. Sadly, food is more viewed as a fill up than nourishment these days. Advertising in the US is just to fill up your stomach and move on with your day. Good nutrition equals good health!

    I have a list of meat items I always keep on hand in the freezer and when we start to run low I start looking for a sale but if I see a good sale and there is room I will go ahead and top off the supply. I freeze meat in small 2 serving packages. This keeps us from thawing more than we need and it is easy to take out multiple packages if we need more. To me a big part of saving on meat is not ending up with extra in the fridge that gets lost in the back and forgotten. I try to only cook enough for each meal unless I have a purpose for the extra.

    I often reduce the amount of meat in a recipe and we do not miss it. We also just eat less meat these days and rely on other sources of cheaper protein like eggs, beans and cheese and canned tuna if I can find a good sale. If we have had eggs for breakfast we don't always eat meat for lunch as we just don't need it. Americans especially eat way more protein than we need.

    We are finding more and more ways to enjoy beans here. Before our daughter moved to Germany she showed me that beans are much more flavorful and interesting if you begin with building flavors by sauteing onions, garlic, peppers and herbs and spices and then adding beans to that. She makes huge pots of chili without a bit of meat and you don't even miss it. We also bulk up foods like taco meat with at least a third beans and it is delicious.

    We have an electric meat slicer and it is very handy for slicing meats thin and stretching them. I really find this handy when we have a houseful of company around the holidays. I like to do a large boneless pork loin and then it is simple to run through the slicer for sandwiches the next day.

    We buy large pieces of meat and cut it ourselves. I have also found that the old recipes that always call for beef are perfectly delicious with a substitution of other meats. Whole boneless pork loins go as low as .89 a pound here and they can be cut and used as boneless chops and stew meat. A three pound piece can stand in very well for the usual beef roast. This really cuts cost for us. Newer recipes seem to have lost the step that meats gain flavor through browning before adding other ingredients. It seems to me that it is also the reason that so many recipes call for broth that our mothers and grandmothers never used. I was fortunate to grow up with a Mom who knew this and that I learned to make good gravy from just the crusty bits in the bottom of the pan after frying meat. Gravy makes a meal so much more complete and leftovers can be frozen to add flavor to a dish another day.

    Thank you all for the tips. I enjoy learning from everyone.

  16. Wonderful post! This past week I took the water veggies had been cooked in, added some celery, and made a cream soup for lunch. The leftover was used to make scalloped potatoes. No nutrition went to waste.

  17. Karen aka Lace Faerie7 October 2019 at 11:36

    This is such an excellent post. Homemaking skills are no long taught in schools here in the states, or if they are, it’s just a chapter in a semester half year of ‘life skills’, and are not mandatory.

    My late Mama raised 5 of us kids (and a hungry HH)and never failed to make a feast out of nothing but basic ingredients and lots of love! One of our favorite meals was her ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ soup made from leftovers. I like to think I took her thriftiness an extra step by capturing every last nutritious drop. Use your rubber spatulas! Scrap out every last drop of everything! I have a container in my kitchen freezer that I put bits and dabs into. One last bit of veggies or rice? Into the pot. Pan scrapings if not used on the spot for gravy. Ketchup bottle empty? I add a few tablespoons of water, shake and drain into the stock pot. Same for bottles of steak sauce, tomato sauce cans, even store bought salad dressings! When we had a houseful of kids and their friends, I kept separate containers for beef, poultry and pork, but now a days it all goes into the same pot. You wouldn’t think the odd bits would taste good together but I’ve found them to add a depth of flavor without clashing flavors. Many guests have asked me to share my soup recipe, but all it is leftovers, herbs and spices.

    Money was especially tight when I was in high school, but after a nutritious meal, including lots of fresh or frozen veggies, our dessert was: 2 large boxes of store brand Jello (flavored gelatin), half lb carton of cottage cheese and a can of fruit cocktail. Not fancy but it was a sweet treat, one we enjoyed almost every week night.

    In the mid-70’s, Mama spent $20/week to feed seven people 3 meals a day, snacks and desserts. I remember this because one of my Home Economy class assignments was to “shop” what it would cost to set up a new kitchen with basics,including spices, and to create a budget & plan for a month of meals, with per serving cost breakdown. I looked up on the internet, $20 in 1975 is equivalent to $91 today. That’s still a tight budget!

    On a another note, I got a huge buy on fresh bone-in chicken thighs. A locally started store chain celebrates their Founder’s Day with great sales. The thighs were in large packs at $.89 a pound. That’s the best price I’ve seen northwest grown chicken in about 15 years! There was a limit of 2 packages which seemed to average out at 16 thighs per package. As there are 2 of these stores in the county, my daughters and I stopped at both and bought the limit each time that week. For the last 2 days of the sale, they ran out. Our state law is if sale price advertising wording doesn’t include the phrase “while supplies last”, they must offer ‘rain checks’ and honor the sale price when new stock comes in. So, my grown daughters and I left the kids with the guys and hit both stores both days to get the rain checks. My daughter’s co-workers were kind enough to go and get extra rain checks and passed them on to us. Neither of their friends do much ‘from scratch’ cooking, so the sale wasn’t of interest to them. And as the rain checks are good for 60 days, it will allow us to spread the cost of stocking up over 2 months! We eat a lot of chicken, usually with potatoes or over rice with a variety of different sauces. We had been out of thighs for several months, so we were really happy to see this sale!

    1. Thanks for sharing the desert idea. I might try something similar for my girls. Desert is a rarety due to lack of time to make it (10+hr work days) but I could easily pull this off prepping it on a weekend:)

  18. Loved this post! Thank you. It was so affirming in what I already practice. :) We are enjoying lentil tacos tonight, when cooked with spices and one misses the meat. My husband was recently in the hospital and a friend gifted us with a ham dinner. Leftover ham became sandwiches, stir fry and a ham & cheddar pie. 4 meals for 10 people! No one snacks on meat in our house. I have plenty of boiled eggs and peanut butter on hand for protein.

  19. I really need to find the individual pie sealer thingie that you have. I don't eat much grains but Farmer does. He likes pot pies. This would be a nice change from the usual leftovers.

  20. Dear Annabel,

    A wonderful post...on my favorite subject: food! :) I have made your Nan's pie and can testify to its deliciousness!!

    I had to laugh about the tips to keep others from eating your planned leftovers! I don't have a problem with anyone getting into food between meals, as we mainly eat together for meals (or pack lunches for at work), and this just doesn't happen. People always ask what there is to eat for a snack when we do snack, but mostly we just don't eat between meals. I DO, however, have a problem with planned leftovers being eaten at the table, especially with roast meat (looking at you, hubby!!)...and he slices it thickly! I will have to get tricky about it, because he slices and loads the plate, and snacks on it while carving. I think getting an electric knife or something like that which will slice more thinly would be one solution. But you are very right about the prices of meat being so expensive...especially beef, here, the last 3 or 4 years. We are lucky in that we raise chickens, so we have had that in the freezer all the time, but this year we didn't do meat birds and are keeping all our layers another winter, so even that won't be there. Yes, shopping smartly and I love all your tips for using different cuts and older cookbooks. I have found the same thing with older cookbooks. It seems newer recipes call for expensive cuts that cook quickly, rather than slowly...e.g.boneless, skinless chicken breasts, etc.

    My mom's meatloaf recipe has a huge amount of oatmeal in it, which we never noticed, and we also make a delicious "liver" loaf (well, I mix liver and ground beef together to make it a little less liver-y) with cheaper liver and lots of bread crumbs and it is delicious! (And I do not like beef or lamb liver, as a rule.) This is very delicious. Lots of sides is taken for granted in our house. Also, just a bit of meat can be made into a sauce for pasta or added into a stirfry with mostly veggies and leftover meat gravy to give it lots of flavour and using little actual meat. Or soups! I actually found a WWII recipe that bakes 4 hotdogs as the meal for four people...slicing eat hotdog lengthwise and filling with bread cubes, a little butter, onion and parsley/herbs, for stuffed hotdogs baked in the oven. With a baked potato and some veggies, this amazingly fills everyone up!

    I also love that story about the foodie son-in-law and the roast meal. :)

    Very wonderful post!! Thank you!!

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Jen, I love the stuffed hot dog idea, I wonder if that would work with cooked sausage,and swap out bread crumb for cooked rice to make it coeliac friendly. Really need to come back to this post with my recipe book and pen.

  21. Hi Annabel, Thankyou very much for putting this post together, I am learning alot. Love Clare

  22. Thank you all for the tips and comments! I am reading through them all and these are some wonderful ideas and memories. Normally I would try to truly but this week set me back a bit. Thank you

  23. I really enjoyed reading this. When we were just starting out with five children and little income, we really stretched meals hard. I had one older cookbook and it's filled with some really good recipes that use little meat in really flavorful ways. I think that is super key, to make foods taste delicious, and look as attractive as possible will always go much further than putting a pile of meat on a plate! I am trying to incorporate more vegetable entrees in our diet and I've found as Lana mentions that beans with 'high' flavor satisfy in place of a meat dish...However, put a plate full of vegetables before my husband and his first words are always "Are we eating vegetarian now?" lol. But Black beans and rice, or a bowl of vegetarian chili or even lentil tacos (all well seasoned) evoke no comment other than "That was delicious." I not only mix up my spaghetti sauce with less meat and more vegetables but I do the same with my meatloaf and sometimes my burgers (try grated onion and potatoes). My grandmother grew up even more poor than my Granny. Grandmother always put leftover mashed potatoes into her hamburgers, meatballs, meatloaf as a stretcher.


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