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Friday, October 4, 2013

Big Family Cooking - Part 3 - Dinner Expanders

Make use of dinner expanders (e.g. rice and pasta).

1. Rice: Since my husband is Filipino, we have a giant rice dispenser in our kitchen nook.

Isn't it gorgeous? Williams Sonoma.

Rice is a staple in our home, and I have learned to truly appreciate its versatility. A great option is to pair with ground meat (beef or turkey) to fill tacos or enchiladas. Fried rice is another tasty choice--eggs and seasoning go a long way.  Whisking up a sauce or gravy with some leftover chicken and ladling over rice makes for a quick and hearty meal.

2. Pasta pretty much speaks for itself as far as its expandable and budget friendly qualities. Just watch it on the casseroles. You don't want to be known as Mystery Meat Mama with her trusty 9x13.

3. Beans are another expandable and affordable wonder food, but one in which I am just starting to explore. My family doesn't love them, so I'm working on sly ways to sneak them in, as incognito as possible. Perhaps Jules has some suggestions...

4. Potatoes absorb the flavors of the "star" food. For example, saute the potatoes in a bit of oil on the stove, and then add the ground beef and salt. As they cook together, the flavors mingle and the potatoes spread the goodness.

5. Leftovers: Don't let them go to waste! Instead of making an entirely new meal the next day, serve leftovers and make a smaller dinner companion--like a quiche or buttered noodles--to go along side.  Or, turn the leftovers (if possible) into a different meal--like a stir fry or fajitas.

The Easy Rules are:

#147: Stretch the pricey meat with inexpensive expander foods so that your dinners feed a bunch on a dime.
#25:  Buy a rice cooker


  1. I am all about my rice cooker (and that's not just Asian Husband Syndrome talking). It is one less thing on my brain when I'm cooking, and waits for me without scalding until I'm ready to serve. Very high ranking on the Best Kitchen Appliances list.