Monday, November 19, 2012

5 Ways to Stretch Meat and Save Money

Meat can be very expensive, so I like to stretch my meat for as many meals as possible. I routinely get 4+ servings from one pound of meat using the "5-S's of Stretching Meat"

1. Soup/Stew

2. Salad

3. Sandwich

4. Stir Fry

5. Shred

Soups and Stews are one of my favorite things to make. Not only can I use a little meat to make a lot of servings, but soups are also a great way to use small amounts of veggies leftover from the week. Try my Meatball Soup or Chili if you want to stretch your ground beef. Chicken soup is simple...requiring only carrots, onions, celery, chicken broth, some spices and a couple chicken breasts. Soups are wonderful freezer meals as well. I make large batches of soups and freeze them in one-meal increments for easy dinners or lunches.

Salads don't have to be greens, throw some leftover ham or chicken in a pasta salad along with some veggies and serve as a main course. But, my husband and I happen to love greens, and when we have leftover meat I'll top some lettuce with a few slices of meat and dressing and serve with crusty bread. Put a little chicken atop Caesar Salad or Strawberry Balsamic Salad. If you have a sweet tooth for salads, try Asian Chicken Salad. My husband's favorite salad is BBQ Chicken Ranch Salad, and you could swap in some leftover steak for the chicken. Salads with leftover meat from the evening before make for a wonderful lunch as well.

Sandwiches are another great way to stretch your budget. Cheesesteaks happen to be my favorite sandwich and require just a small amount of meat because it is so thinly sliced. My family can't get enough Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, and Chicken Caesar Salad wraps are perfect for that little bit of leftover chicken.  

Stir Fries are so versatile. Sometimes I pick up some stir fry sauce at Trader Joes (General Tsao's is delicious with a little bit of a kick), and sometimes I make my own using soy sauce mixed with a little sugar and garlic. Small pieces of meat and veggies go a long way when served over rice or noodles!

Shredding meat is another way to ensure you get the most out of your meat. Shredded Chicken Tacos are simple and delicious. Shredded beef can be served with gravy over noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice.

By using the 5-S's of Stretching Meat, I spend significantly less on meat than if I were to serve a steak or chicken breast with every meal. And, I try to do at least one meatless meal a week to bring the meat consumption down even more. And, despite the lack of a large chunk of meat on each plate, all these meals are husband and kid approved in my house! 

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