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How To Easily Stretch Your Meals to Stay on a Budget

With these easy cooking tips you can learn how to stretch dinner meals to save you money when your feeding a family with kids on a budget.


pasta in black pan with shrimp and steak plus cherry tomatoes with a black background

You don't have to sacrifice nutrition and taste to create homecooked meals for your family that are budget friendly and easy to stretch.


Whether you have a large family to feed or simply want to have next day leftovers for simple lunches, continue reading along with our best tips for making your dollar stretch in the kitchen.


slicing mushrooms with spinach and potatoes in the background

How To Shop and Cook on a Budget?


When your on a budget you want to begin saving money by shopping ingredients that can help you stretch your meals.


There are a handful of staple foundation ingredients that can be paired with a variety of pantry items to create homemade meals your family will love.


Easy foundational cooking ingredients to buy include:

  • Rice

  • Potatoes

  • Pasta

  • Beans

  • Ground Beef

  • Chicken

  • Tomato Sauce

Cooking on a budget is all about making the most use of your ingredients to create comforting meals that are nutritious and filling.


It is about repurposing left overs to make tasty next day lunches and learning how to pair ingredients to help you cook on a budget.


dried pasta in a jar black background

How To Stretch Meals on a Budget?


These simple cooking tips will help you create low ingredient family dinner meals that can be stretched when your on a budget.


#1 Use Foundational Ingredients Often


Create your meals around foundational ingredients like rice, potatoes, or pasta to easily create a number of homemade meals on a budget.


Rice is perfect for pairing with any produce and protein you have on hand plus this ingredient can take on a number of delicious flavor combinations to enjoy.



Potatoes are another versatile staple ingredient that can be mashed, roasted, or steamed to create wholesome meals.


Pasta is an inexpensive ingredient to have on hand when your cooking on a budget because it can take on just about any pairing from classic homemade spaghetti to Lo Mein or chicken Alfredo in no time.


To stretch meals on a budget work with these foundational ingredients often to create easy dinners you can rotate that your family will love.


roasted potatoes in white bowl

#2 Add a Can of Beans


Whenever you need to stretch a meal consider simply adding a can of your favorite beans.


Beans offer a great source of protein and flavor to leave you feeling satiated allowing you to stretch meals easily.


dried beans in spoons

#3 Create Your Own Stock From Vegetable Scraps


By creating your own stock from vegetables scraps you not only reduce waste, but also create a flavorful cooking liquid to stretch soups and stews easily.



raw carrots

#4 Inexpensive Meat Options


Shop budget friendly proteins like chicken thighs, ground beef, and chuck roast to get the most food for your dollar.


There are a variety of low ingredient meals that can be made from these inexpensive meats that can easily be stretched when your on a budget.


Meals like Arroz Con Pollo, Spaghetti, Taco Casserole, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Pot Roast Stew, Stir Fried Rice all made from simple foundational ingredients.


roasted whole chicken in cast iron

#5 Meaty Produce


When you want to stretch your meat consider adding produce with a meaty texture like mushrooms or eggplant.


Not only will you increase the nutritional content of your meal, but you will also be able to extend that meaty texture in your dish for a fraction of the cost.



white button mushroom bowl


#6 Add Water and Season


Easily extend any soup, stew, or sauce by simply adding water.


Be sure to add extra seasoning when you add water to prevent your food from tasting bland.



stew in an orange bowl sitting on a red towel


#7 Soups, Stews, and Casseroles


Soups, stews, and casseroles are all easy ways of cooking that give you a big yield.


The best thing about making these types of recipes is that you can use what you have on hand and make use of tips 5 and 6 to extend these easy meals.


beef stew in white bowl with candle and glass of red wine

#8 Frozen Vegetables


Having frozen vegetables on hand is an easy way to extend simple meals.


By having staple vegetables on hand like a broccoli mix or mixed vegetables with peas and carrots, you can create meals that stretch by simply pairing them with a foundational ingredient like rice, pasta, or potatoes.



bowl of green peas


#9 Use Canned Food


Having a variety of inexpensive pantry items like canned vegetables, soups, and beans can be a life saver when your trying to extend your meals.


By simply adding an extra can of beans or vegetables you can really boost up the hardiness of a meal easily and canned soups like cream of mushroom are great for making classic homemade recipes like Beef Stroganoff.



girl standing in pantry with blue ceramic plates

#10 Extend Your Tomato Sauce


If you need to extend your tomato sauce blend consider adding in produce like onions, carrots, mushrooms, and eggplant.


By simply combining cooked vegetables and blending them to add to your sauce you can add nutritional value and make your tomato sauce stretch.


tomato sauce in bowl bread on white plate

#11 Start a Garden


If you want to be able to extend meals easily you should consider starting a small garden.


Having a small garden will give you the ability to harvest fresh produce from you back yard to include into simple meals.


By having a small garden you can have ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, plus fresh herbs and lettuces to have on hand to add to your family meals.



tomato plant in garden

How To Make Food Stretch Further?

To make food stretch further consider beginning with hardy ingredients that are versatile and pair nicely with a variety of other foods.


Staple foundation foods for making meals that stretch include rice, potatoes, pasta, and beans.


Also consider purchasing frozen foods to be able to include a variety of produce into your meals with less waste due to spoilage.


Next, consider growing your own small backyard garden to be able to harvest an abundance of healthy fresh ingredients to stretch your meals even further and save you money when your on a budget.



Finally, create a simple meal rotation with easy family meals that stretch to be able to feed your family homemade comforting meals while on a budget.


Make your food stretch further by knowing what ingredients to use in combination to create simple healthy meals that stretch.


Now Read For More Dinner Inspiration:





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Guest
Aug 22, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Well written helpful advice


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