Budget Side Dishes for Hungry Teens

I have a question for you today . . . . What is your “go to” side dish to stretch a meal? 

Ok Two questions – What do you do during the day to make sure it is a go?

Why do I ask?  My two boys have become bottomless pits, and it is starting to look like little brother might just pass up big brother on the intake quantities.

So far – we have eaten mostly one dish meals with a side of salad or quick veggie like green beans or corn.

This week we found Short Ribs on sale in town, but even at that a package of 4-6 ribs were 6-7 dollars. So I had to buy 2 pkgs so that each family member could have 3 ribs a piece.  It was late in the day so I did something I don’t ever remember doing – I stopped at the salad section of the deli.  Securing a pound of potato salad and a pound of macaroni salad.

With plate of Green Beans and some bread – we had leftovers. So the next day, I added a few veggies and fresh mayo to the salads, and again, leftovers.

Last night – we made a marinara sauce with hamburger chunks (lazy man’s meatballs) and served them over macaroni noodles. I made the entire package, then used the leftovers to make a salad today. Last night I put in some dill, garlic powder, basil, dried onion salt and pepper before putting the container in the oven. This afternoon for our lunch, I chopped some celery and pickle, and boiled 4 eggs to make a larger portion.

Which got me thinking.  This wasn’t that hard. . . . I am wondering what other families with teens do to beef up a meal – without spending $4.00 a pound for beef, or $20.00 on expensive veggies out of season.

Whatcha got?

This article was written to submit to
At The Christian Home,
a weekly e-magazine produced by
The Legacy of Home
Issue 7 will be out on Monday, March 21, 2011.

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About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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6 Responses to Budget Side Dishes for Hungry Teens

  1. Briana says:

    I try to include a carby side dish like potatoes or rice with each meal. It does get difficult sometimes when everyone seems to say they are hungry after they have just eaten!

  2. Lorus says:

    I have no advice whatsoever, but I’m reading the comments you’ve received to get ideas for my family! 🙂

  3. You are talking my talk now….three boys ages 15-23 living at home and a firefighter husband….we eat a lot but I have become really good at stretching.

    Tonight we had Chicken Quesadillas (chicken on super sale in the value pack cooked on the George Foreman and then pulled). My trick-add rice to the meat and a can of beans (we prefer black beans, purchased on sale). This stretches my two large breasts to feed the five of us. All veggies are chopped- peppers, onions, olives and mixed in as well.

    We always make 1 1/2 packages of pasta at time so there will be leftovers for the next day’s lunches. I always try to have leftover pasta in the frig so they can add some sort of sauce and a veggie like peas or broccoli (frozen and chopped). I also have found if I stock up on things like pepperoni or ham from the deli and split up the packages chunks (freezing half), they can be added to leftover pasta or rice for a quick lunch.

    Condiments make the meal too around here. I found a teriyaki sauce, an orange chicken sauce, and a kung pao sauce at Costco that will make a plain rice meal into a tasty treat if you add in left over meat, veggie, or cheese (I buy mozzarella and grate myself, pepper jack is also a good filler because it adds taste and protein.)

    Hamburger I buy in bulk and then break up into both “big” and “small” portions in the freezer. I use big ones for meatloafs and hamburgers and then small ones for tacos, spaghetti, and sloppy joes. Ground turkey has been cheaper than beef this month so we have been eating that instead for most meals. Homemade pizza is a new favorite around here now that Mr. B is making our dough.

    We eat from our garden in the summer so that helps but in the winter we limit ourselves to heads of lettuce, peppers, zucchini (when affordable), frozen green beans, and carrots…lots of carrots. I slip carrots into almost everything. My boys do love canned corn so I stock up on that when it is cheap. (Mr. B loves cranberry sauce so we bought a case of it when it was 88 cents a can after Christmas.)

    Fruit is whatever is on sale and still looks good otherwise we use canned fruit (on sale of course).

    The most important thing that I have found is to cook everything from scratch and make lots of it. Bread with peanut butter is a staple around here. We stay away from boxed cereal, chips, boxed snack items, frozen convenience food, and juice and that helps the budget.

    Sidedishes my boys love: cornbread, baked potato, any kind of flavored rice white or brown, celery with pb or cream cheese, any veggie dipped in a dip (dill is their fav), cheese cubes (with toothpicks of course), garlic bread, biscuits, zucchini fritters, cottage cheese with fruit, applesauce (homemade), and I can’t think of anything more…sure there must be something.

    Welcome to my world.

  4. rosswa says:

    Inexpensive, filling foods we use around here: (dried) beans, prepared in many ways; rice; pasta; potatoes, or in our part of the country, sweet potatoes are cheaper than potatoes. This is a good topic; maybe I’ll have to talk about this over on my blog, too…. 😉

    Wendy R

  5. Heidi Strople says:

    Meat prices have been crazy lately. You know us, we eat a lot of it. I do check sale flyers once a week, hit or miss as to whether it is helpful. One thing we do is buy a lot of one thing when it’s sale time. That is I have a little $ tucked away for those good sales, (we got 2 cases of mangos yesterday for $20). Here is what I have been doing a ton of lately-chicken. I took a chicken I bought on sale, if I can get one for $5 or less I am happy. I browned the outside and simmer in a little water for almost 2 hours. Then I pulled all bones out adn through them in crockpot for another meal that might need chicken broth. I left the juices and fat in the bottom of the pot. I put all them meat pulled from bones back in and through in taco seasoning, cumin, and paprika(last week it was barbecue seasoning) and cooked the water out. You have pulled chicken meat that is so tender and soaking in it’s own fat. Yummy! I made cabbage salsa, red salsa, cubed fresh mango, shredded cheese, we have sourcream and lettuce, and will make taco wraps in steamed cabbage leaves for dinner. The meat isn’t enough to feed all of us….just like I am sure it’s not for your growin boys, but when you leave the chicken fat in and add all the veggies and fat it becomes very filling with less. Recently we also bought whole pork loins at less than $2/lb. no bones or fat(of course which makes it a little dry) but it was seriously 4 big meals at less than $5 a dinner for the meat. Would love to see what others are doing cause feeding this many troopers is getting pricey 🙂 Oh yeah, this being st patty day time cabbage has been on sale big time, so we have been eating it a ton!

  6. Blossom says:

    Great tip about cooking the entire package and then using them the next day. I usually will make the whole box of noodles for mac & cheese one day and then we can use the remaining for whatever later or the next day. I’m a bit short-sighted when it comes to food. Or plain might be a better term. Make a big batch of mac & cheese, store what’s left and then combine it with some canned chili (since I rarely make my own) or toss in peas and tuna (um, if you like tuna it’s good lol), or even just hamburger and some veggie (like broccoli).
    Lol, that’s all I got 🙂
    OH! here’s one- if you like burritos (bean and cheese or even meat and cheese), add a bit of rice to them to stretch them. Rice is inexpensive 🙂

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