Today I went for my thousand island dressing and lo and behold I was out (not really a crises with the happenings these days, but why not enjoy our times at home in any way that makes us content?) Simple, mayo, ketchup, and some relish and I was good to go.(see photo)Of course it can be tweaked, but thanks to a friend of ours gifted zucchini relish, I was all set, mine was great with just the 3 ingredients, thank you Sue Palmer for that!! As I was whipping this up, I thought to myself, hmmm maybe I should post some other ideas to help those who do not normally cook, but are now trying to make do at home. I rarely cook with a recipe instead start off with a little of this n that, give it a taste and go from there, easy to add, hard to take away. Makes life much simpler.
Some things I did when money was tight trying to feed my family of 5 sure came in handy back then, and 54 years later still do. Stretching the family food budget will be even more challenging now, what with shortages in the supermarkets and the kids and maybe whole family eating at home right now to stay safe.
Here are a few of my favorite tricks and tips:
Most all of us have mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, some type of oil, vinegar and spices in our pantries. If not you should have because combining these several different ways can make a salad dressing, a bbq sauce, or a dipping sauce.
Perfect example is my dressing mentioned above.
Oil, vinegar, mustard and spices make a great salad dressing, bottom of the jar condiments can make a great dipping sauce, for instance is your jar almost out of mustard? toss in some honey or maple syrup, shake and makes a great dipping sauce for chicken tenders and wings, raw veggies, heck I even like French fries in it. BBq sauce can be made from lots of combinations, simmered until thickened. Almost out of tarter sauce? toss some mayo, in some relish, a little lemon juice (optional) some spices and you have a simple tarter sauce. Hint if you are lucky enough to own some horseradish, use it as the heat in any of these ideas.
To bulk up and stretch egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, etc., chop up iceberg lettuce (yes it is inexpensive and coming back) and toss right in the mix, adds a great crunch factor also and a little extra moisture so less mayo or dressing can be used and cheaper then celery, or in place of if none can be found.
Kids wanting pizza and you have none?, try keeping tortillas on hand, any kind, and use those for the crust, much cheaper, cook up in less then half the time, heat in a skillet or in the oven, tip: sprinkle your cooking vessel with a little corn meal, and it adds a little more authentic pizza crust crunch and keeps the tortilla from sticking to the pan. These will cook very fast so use precooked ingredients for toppings and use up those leftovers! Another great idea with tortillas, cut in shapes desired, spray lightly, add some spices, bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, watch closely last few minutes, there are your tortilla chips!
Out of a sweet treat? Melt some choc chips, or peanut butter chips or any kind you might have in a bowl over hot water, stir in a dash of a neutral oil, pour out on sprayed foil, top with coconut for choc. or choc chips for peanut butter, you get the idea, put in fridge to harden and that problem is solved. A little flavoring extract can also kick up the flavor a notch or two. Tip: place your foil in container for thickness you desire, then spray before adding your mix to keep from spreading too thin!
To bulk up and stretch meat loaf, add finely shredded carrots (inexpensive) or finely shredded potatoes, and oatmeal in place of bread crumbs. tip: always let your meat loaf set at least 15 minutes so it firms up once taken out of oven, easier to slice! If all else fails and fresh potatoes cannot be found in a pinch try some boxed instant potatoes. Out of gravy? thicken with cornstarch add some spices to plain broths, and you are good to go (directions will be on box) sautee a few onions first, then toss in rest of ingredients and you have a delicious onion gravy, or mushrooms, for a mushroom gravy.
In our family we like/use English muffins in place of Hamburg or hot dog rolls as well as breakfast sandwiches, they keep and freeze a lot better, and are a great size for kids, toasted nice and crisp they are not as apt to fall apart like the soft rolls tend to do. And they are great for sloppy joes, too!
I do have several other posts I've done on here this past week to help with your food budgets, a lot of you already are aware of some or most of these tips I am sure, but if not, give one or two a try, but of course bottom line, of course, it is your kitchen, your choice, stay safe everyone!!