Let's explore how to feed our family on a tight budget for
several reasons but foremost so we can have money to buy food for our family
preparedness. I decided to write an
article on the topic of thrift, stretching your food budget and also learning
to cook the things we will have to be eating after an economic collapse or a
disaster of any kind happens.
When we buy a larger quantity than we need for the week then
we can spread it over another week or two for a meal here and there. I will have some of the chicken I bought this
week for $5.90 for 10 lbs. left over for the following week. If you are super thrifty you will de-bone
some of your chicken and take some of the skin, bones, and a few drumsticks and
boil them for awhile with some onion and salt and pepper and make a rich
broth. Cool the broth and bones after
removing the skin. Then remove the meat
from your broth and set aside, then strain the broth and liquefied fat into a
bowl and refrigerate. After the fat
congeals scrape it off and put into another dish. Add your meat back to your broth and you have
the basis for a delicious chicken soup.
The fat should be kept covered and refrigerated. Use the fat to sauté your skinless boneless
chicken in to add flavor and to give you a base for making gravy with your
drippings and fat. It only takes flour
and water added to it and simmered for 2 minutes to make a delicious
gravy. Your chicken fat should last in
the fridge for at least a week and if you can't use it all in a week you can
If you want to be thrifty with your ground beef there is
something similar that can be done with a little different results and is a
healthy way to eat beef. When you open
your 5 lb. roll or package of ground beef, break it up and put into a Dutch
oven. Season with salt and pepper and
finely chopped onion. Simmer with water
to the top of the beef and cook until it loses its pink color. Strain the beef into a colander which is
placed over another pot or bowl. Package
your cooked ground beef into meal size portions such as a 3/4 cup for a
spaghetti or chili dinner or for tacos or burritos. Freeze your portions until needed. Leave about 3/4 cup of beef to add back to the
broth after you skim the fat from the cold broth. You can save this fat to be used later with
your cooked ground beef if you want to brown it for use in burritos because the
boiled beef isn't quite as good a texture as the browned beef is for dishes
like this. The broth that has been
skimmed and the 3/4 cup of ground beef and some more onion, carrots and any
other vegetables you have on hand such as celery, beans, corn, herbs etc. and a
can of some tomato product such as tomato paste, whole tomatoes, diced
tomatoes, puree, sauce or anything you have in the tomato range. I have even used catsup before to give the
tomato flavor. This makes a delicious
beef vegetable soup. You have stretched
the ground beef to at least 7 meals out of that 5 lbs of ground beef. By the way if you have leftover ground beef
from tacos or leftover spaghetti or chili you can add this to your soup to
stretch your soup to 2 meals that will taste different from the first time you
served it at the beginning of the week.
You rename the soup to minestrone soup or Mexican soup. Everyone will think you made them a real
Now let's talk about
real thrift! Rice and beans! With
preparedness such a hot topic because of our economy being so weak at the
moment and so many people out of work and fears of the future with the price of
food skyrocketing let's look at what we can prepare inexpensively and still eat
well. You can buy Rice and Beans in
bulk to make them the cheapest items in your food storage as far as being
nutritionally dense for the money. My
suggestion though is to buy some 1 lb. packages of a variety of beans to try
lots of recipes with and find your families favorite varieties before investing
in 25 or 50 lb. bags of beans. Most
people love refried beans and the pinto bean is what they are usually made of
and pinto's are a very versatile bean to use.
They can be used in place of kidney beans in chili and added to soups
and used for beans and rice. So I
suggest if you like them in those things then buy them, not to discount the
fact that they are one of the cheapest beans on the market and they come in
bulk sizes in many stores such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, etc. The great thing you can do with beans is to
soak and cook enough beans for a few meals at one time. It takes the same amount of energy to cook
1/2 lb of beans or 2 lbs. of beans. You
can bag up your extra cooked beans to make refried beans or to just throw into
your other meals for extra nutrition and cut back on the amount of meat you use
in your dishes. My second suggestion is
to take a look at the garbanzo beans which you can make delicious soups or add
them to salads or even make a snack out of the cooked beans rinsed and then baked
with seasoning to have like nuts. Also
hummus is made from garbanzo's which is a great dip or sandwich spread. My third suggestion would be butter beans if
you usually use limas or butter beans for side dishes or main dishes with rice
then this is a really great bean to keep on hand. Growing up my Mother would could up a pot of
butter beans with a little ham or bacon in it and serve it with corn bread and
the second day she would add rice and make a casserole from the leftovers. I loved it as long as I had catsup to put on
them. (Yes, I know, it is my little
quirk for that particular bean.) I also
like black beans to add to many dishes such as chili, stews, soups, and bean
burgers. Bean burgers and lentil burgers
are usually made from well done beans or lentils added to rice and an egg to
make a passable burger. If you use the
same condiments you do with a beef burger it is a really surprising treat. My husband didn't even realize until I told
him that he ate a bean burger instead of a beef burger. You can add some bread crumbs to make it mold
into a burger a little easier.
Thrifty ways to stretch your food includes your rice as
well. Cook up a whole 1 lb. bag of rice
at one time and then keep out what you need at that meal. Separate the rest into zipper bags to be used
in other meals during the week. It will
save you energy costs and make your meal preparations much quicker. You can serve your rice the first time with
your sautéed chicken and gravy or you can make Spanish rice to serve with your
burritos or to stretch your chili to serve more people if you have unexpected
company. Rice can be fried with
leftovers such as chicken or vegetables with a beaten egg added to make the
oriental favorite fried rice by adding a few of those freebie soy sauce packets
to give that flavor that is expected with fried rice. Curried Vegetables over rice is really a
tasty and different meal. Why not play
it up and make theme nights where you make one night Indian Curry night with
curried garbanzo beans and vegetables over rice and the next night will be
Mexican Fiesta night with refried bean burritos and Spanish rice. Then you have Cajun Country night with gumbo
or red beans and rice (buy some of those Mardi Gras beads to share during the
meal and then put away for the next time.)
You can put on some Salsa Dance music to set the theme. Don't forget Salad night with your garden
lettuces and tomatoes and throw on some kidney beans or garbanzo beans for your
protein. A great way to serve beans in
the summer. Another summer favorite is
Three Bean Salad with green beans, wax beans and kidney beans dressed with a
sweet and sour vinaigrette. Many casseroles have a rice base as well as salads.
Did you know that you can make Rice Milk very easily and that Rice milk can be used for almost
anything that regular cow's milk can be used for? Powdered milk is quite pricy and you can
stretch the powdered milk in your long term storage by making rice milk to use
either on its own or mixed half and half with cow's milk to cook with or to use
on cereal or even to drink. Some people
like the taste much better than powdered milk.
There are YouTube videos and recipes online for Rice Milk. It is basically boiling your rice for about 3
hours and then pouring through cloth and squeezing out the liquid. You can add a couple tablespoons of oatmeal
to the rice when cooking to thicken the milk and giving it more body. You need
to refrigerate rice milk just like regular milk so make smaller amount to last
for no more than a couple of days without refrigeration unless of course it is
used in baking. Now just think, Rice
you can get for less than $20 for 50 lbs.
I wonder how much milk 50 lbs. of rice would make? I am sure it would be a lot. So if you find you can't afford to stock up
on powdered milk consider stocking 50 or 100 lbs. just for Rice Milk.
Beans, beans and
more beans. That is one
of the staples and basic foods that all survivalists and prepper's talk about.
I know most people don't each much in the way of beans anymore but take
a gander at the price of meat out there today and take a second look at the
great protein at such an inexpensive price .
For instance most beans will give you 15 grams of protein per cup of the
lowly bean. Add a cup of rice and you
have an additional 4 grams of protein.
My meager ability at math figures that at 19 grams of complete protein,
it is low fat, no cholesterol, easy to prepare, and can be used in many recipes
to hide the fact that it is beans and rice.
Not that there is anything wrong with beans and rice. But......what about gumbo, bean soup, Spanish
rice with garbanzo beans, vegetarian chili over rice, bean burritos, refried
beans and Spanish rice, bean curry and yellow rice, and umpteen other dishes
that can be made with the lowly bean.
Don't forget the variety of beans out there. Black beans, garbanzo beans, red beans,
kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black eyed peas, lentils, cranberry
beans, split peas of yellow or green varieties, butter beans and great northern
beans. There are more but these are the
ones you can find in most grocery stores.
All of these varieties are nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive
compared to meat.
Beans can also be used as an oil substitute in many
recipes. Don't forget that you can grind
beans into a flour and stretch your wheat flour in making your breads.
Since most people don't partake in a lot of beans let me
give some hints on cooking dried beans.
Step 1 - Rinse and sort through your beans take out all
pebbles and stems.
Step 2 - Soak your beans overnight in water.
Step 3 - Drain your beans and rinse again. Place into fresh
water with about an inch of water above beans.
Step 4 - Cook for 1/2 hour and then drain and rinse
again. Add 1 tsp. of baking soda and
cook for another 1/2 hour then drain and
Step 5 - Cook with fresh water with your seasonings, meats
if used and onion and vegetable if you need them for 1 more hour. You should have beans that will not give you
much problem with gas or flatulence.
After cooling you may separate your beans into separate zipper bags for
different meals and refrigerate or freeze.
Do not do this cooking method with lentils or split peas
because they don't take but about 45 minutes to cook through. Follow the cooking directions on the
packaging or your recipe book for these.
PLEASE get your family used to eating meals with beans
and rice on a fairly regular basis and find their favorite meals made with them
Don't wait until the economy collapses and you can't buy meat anymore
because of the price. I know most all
preppers have a hundred or so pounds of beans and a couple of hundred pounds of
rice. I also know that a lot of preppers
have them packed in long term storage and they don't eat beans and rice hardly
at all unless it comes from a package or can or a Mexican Restaurant and they
don't really know how to make them taste good when cooking dried beans or maybe
they don't even have a clue how to cook the long grain white rice they have
stored. You may not have a rice steamer
available to cook your rice. Learn now
how to make rice with the 2 part water to 1 part rice and bring water to boil
add rice and turn to low and cook for 20 minutes covered. If cooking over an open campfire pull the pot
to the side of the coals or flame and turn your pot periodically to help cook
Good eating and have fun trying out different recipes and
theme nights. Get your family on board
and used to eating the lowly wonderful bean and you will have a much easier
transition after the stuff hits the fan!