How To Stretch A Meal On A Budget-Parenting Tips

How To Stretch A Meal On A Budget
Parenting Tips-How To Stretch A Meal On A Budget
Sisterhood Sessions | Life Lessons Learned-Parenting: How To Stretch A Meal On A Budget | The Book Of Jane Series

What I’ve Learned

I’ve learned when it comes to how to stretch a meal on a budget everything matters, including the potato peel.

The Potato Peel

It wasn’t until I was older, and on my own fending for myself in the world that I understood the significance of a moment I witnessed in the kitchen with my mother and one of my older sisters,  and the impact the potato peel played in an intense moment.

One Sunday afternoon my sister was in the kitchen helping Mother make dinner. She was charged with peeling the potatoes. My Sister, like myself, was relatively young at the time and knew absolutely nothing of the challenges or the necessity of a budget to simply survive financially. In my sister’s naivete, she unknowingly peeled away much of the meat of the potato with the potato peel. With that action, my mother promptly scolded my sister with an impromptu lesson in the ways of wastefulness.

As a child, I was baffled by what I perceived to be my mother’s response of irritation, and clearly remember thinking to myself, ‘Why is my mother yelling at my sister?’.  I later learned when it comes to how to stretch a meal on a budget everything matters, including the potato peel.

How To Stretch A Meal On A Budget

My Mother employed savvy survival strategies for how to stretch a meal on a budget to support a large family. She mastered the art of stretching a dollar beyond its fiscal value by choosing food and meals with cross-functional qualities. It’s easy to reinvent different ways for how you use your food source to save money and still support a healthy way of eating.  Check out ‘Choose my plate’, a government website offering several tips on healthy and affordable eating options, many of which my Mother incorporated years ago.

Below are just a few of the lessons I learned from mother’s parenting tips about how to stretch a meal on a budget that is just as relevant today as it was then and appeals to anyone interested in making every dollar count. Her lesson was about saving money by finding simple and practical ways to maximize your food source.

  1. Use Everything-Find creative ways to use food again and again, that goes beyond its intended use. Example: Instead of discarding the excessive amount of healthy omega 3 olive oil found in a can of sardines, discover ways to use it.
  2. Waste Nothing-Always be cognizant of extracting every component of your food for use. Think of ways to reinvent food and how its served. Example: Consider keeping the skin or peel on potatoes, apples or eggplants not only to avoid waste but savior the nutritional value. Perhaps dry out and roast pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack.
  3. Add Fillers-Add various food fillers that will enhance the feeling of being full or satisfied for smaller meal portions. Example: Perhaps add steamed broccoli to a salad or make mashed potatoes as the bed of a meal or on the side. Sweet potatoes are a healthy alternative to white potatoes.

One of my favorite meals as a child was my Mother’s version of ‘Succotash’. It consisted of a heaping bed of mashed potatoes smothered with spaghetti sauce and ground beef mixed with vegetables made from a frozen medley of green beans, corn, peas, and carrots. To this day it is still a comfort food favorite. On the rare occasions I prepare my Mother’s famous ‘Succotash’, I  choose the healthier alternative of ground turkey, low-sodium crushed tomatoes as the sauce, red potatoes with the peel left on, and the frozen vegetable medley remains a signature part of the dish.

As a health-conscious society, most of us cook much differently than our Mothers and ancestors before us.  Often when preparing a meal I think of my Mother and the extra time it took to prepare meals. The process was so painstakingly time-consuming due to stripping vegetables and fruits of their nutritional value by peeling away the outer layer or preparing a separate batch of seasoned white flour by which to dip chicken and other fares.  Ironically, by not partaking in such rituals, not only would it have saved Mother time, money, and irritation that her children couldn’t comprehend the value of extracting as much of the food for use as possible, but it would have been a healthier way of eating while being on a budget. That said, that makes it even more impressive that she was able to successfully survive on a scanty budget.

Sometimes life lessons learned evolve into a revolutionary alternative. While my execution is different, the baseline premise of my Mother’s original lesson remains the same. In this case, save money by always maximizing your food source.

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