*from Blessed but Overwhelmed
When I recommend to people that they eat chicken thighs and leg quarters (because they are juicy and delicious!) I realized that I forget to tell them *how* to eat them.
First, why should you stretch the chicken?
"Let's start here: Average Americans eat WAY too much meat, in my opinion, and I am in pretty good company in that opinion. Nearly every organization that deals with health and nutrition agrees that a serving of meat should be between two and four ounces and some groups think even less! I wrote a whole post about it :-)"
So how do we meet those recommendations most days? Taking what appear to be single serving size pieces and turning them into family servings:
So, go forth and stretch your chicken!
*from Blessed but Overwhelmed
I have a confession: I'm a bit obsessed with stock, like I take pictures of it and stuff... By sharing this, I hope to get you on board with the obsession!
Cook a chicken and use the meat for whatever you had planned (or use a turkey or rotisserie chicken carcass):
When you have pulled most of the meat off the bones, put the carcass in a pot with any juices left over from cooking and the giblets and neck if you have them and add water until it is completely covered. Add some celery stalks, onion and carrots if you have some handy (they don't even need to be chopped). Add a splash of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) to help pull calcium from the bones and into the stock. Cover and simmer for an hour or more, stirring occasionally. Even easier, put all of this in the crock pot on low overnight.
Strain out the carcass and stuff and discard (after checking for any small pieces of meat, there is usually quite a bit). After it completely cools, it will look like chicken flavored Jell-o, lovely visual, huh? If you are concerned about fat, then you can put the stock in the refrigerator or freezer and the fat will harden on top and you can just lift it off. I will say though, that I leave it with all the fat and here is why: fat is delicious. That should be enough, but if you need more, I have more: we choose to eat very small portions of meat because it is a healthier way to eat, even making many meals with beans or tofu as the protein; because of that, we have more room in our diet for things like fats and oils. Fat is also filling and making otherwise meatless dishes with stock makes them feel “meatier” which satisfies the staunch meat eaters in the family.
*from Blessed but Overwhelmed
Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming and that usually means heading to someone's home (maybe yours) and stuffing your face with loved ones. For the food insecure this often is an upsetting contrast and also a welcome reprieve from their everyday struggles. Putting food on the table every day can be a stretch, particularly this time of year when the garden can't help (if you are lucky enough to have room and time for one); getting to the cheapest store is sometimes too cold of a walk so you settle for the higher priced, but closer one; you are expected to provide some type of Christmas gifts, often extravagant ones if your Jones' are significantly better off than you are; plus you need to do it all full of spirit and cheer. I know that sometimes it is hard to ask for help, but please know that there are many people who want to help, without judgement or pity, you just have to ask.
I have put together some ideas specific to holiday meals to hopefully make this time of year a bit less stressful.
The absolute first thing is ASK FOR LEFTOVERS! I know yelling isn't nice, but seriously! You would not believe how much food gets thrown away because either the host isn't one to use leftovers, they won't fit in the refrigerator, or they don't get used up before they go bad.
Now, what to do with those leftovers? Here are my favorite ideas, in no particular order:
I would love to hear your clever ideas for leftovers!
*from Blessed but Overwhelmed
How to spend $100 for your family of four for a month
What if you have to REALLY cut back? This is what I would do. Notice that I don't cut out all the meat, or all the snacks, even cookies! Just because things aren't going your way doesn't mean you should have to do without all the good stuff. As a matter of fact, if things aren't going well, you might need more cookies! There is no reason to feel deprived the whole month (or months), you can still eat delicious food, the only difference is that it might not be as varied as when you have more money. That being said, remember, changing up the spices can make two dishes with the same ingredients seem way different! Whole chicken is by far the most economical meat, especially considering the stock you can easily make that will make the bean dishes feel more "meaty". Ideally, you have been slowly building up your pantry and freezer so that you could absorb a grocery budget cut without much changing at least for a month or so.
Could you spend less? Yes, but if you are in a situation where you have less than $100 to use for groceries for your family for more than a month or two, then you could, and should seek assistance, that's what it is for.
Read more: $100 Month
A little history about The Pantry.
In 2012, I knew I wanted to join the fight against hunger and help feed people. I've had a passion to feed people for quite sometime, because food can really be a powerful thing and without it, we struggle in many ways.
It seemed simple, collect food and pass it out. So we started collecting. Then we stopped collecting.
One day, while sorting through the foods, we saw things like Hot Flaming Cheetos, Vienna Sausages, Ramen Noodles, expired foods and more food like items. As Vanessa and I were sorting, I kept thinking, this is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to help feed people. There were items in there that would make only one meal. Then the epiphany.....
We need to help feed people 'meals'. Yes! That was it. A menu, where people could select what they wanted and we could give them the recipes to make those meals, along with the foods they needed to make them.
But then what? I had a few meals in mind that we can put on the menu, but it wasn't enough.
Then Kolbi came along, bringing with her all these great recipes, ideas and the simple fact that she can feed her family of 5 on $200 a month. You read that right, 5 people, $200 a month!
Then more great folks came along, donating refrigerators, freezers, food, money, and time. Together, a team of us strategized, shared creative ideas and helped put the menu together. Kolbi created the recipes and perfected each of them. Family Size Chicken Pot Pie, White Bean Chicken Chili, Red Beans and Rice, Chicken and Rice and Vegetables, Vegetable Bean Soup, and Chicken and Vegetable Pasta. In some meals, people even get to select which seasonings they want. Italian Garlic, Curry, Mexican, or Lemon- Pepper. Yum!
The Pantry was birthed and opening day wasn't far in sight. It was just a matter of collecting food, money and working out a few more details.
Then came Paula, who helped get us even closer to opening day. Paula is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and has become a great part of The Pantry team. She has connected The Pantry with a plethora of wonderful volunteers from her church, she does the volunteer scheduling and her church donated $1,000 worth of food commodities to The Pantry.
The one thing I love about The Pantry is that it is community supported. There are individuals, businesses and churches who help support the work and mission of The Pantry.
Our first day open was July 25th, 2014. After hurdles, obstacles and jumps, we finally opened.
We served 75 people from 28 families.
By October, we increased to 220 people in 70 families.
And, in January we served 353 people from 94 families!
My great hope is that there won't be a need for The Pantry to be open because there is enough food accessible for everyone, but until then, The Pantry will be open the 4th Friday of each month to give people food and the recipes they need to turn those foods into delicious, nutritious and filling meals.
No id, no requirements, no questions asked.
Just come and get it.
Thanks for joining us in the journey. If you believe the work we do is important here and can help, please don't hesitate to click the donate button on the upper, left side of the page and give what you can. Anything helps.
When someone visits The Pantry, they are greeted with a smiling face, a warm welcome and a menu from which to select great breakfast and dinner options for three days. Delicious, nutritious and filling meals that in most cases, offer enough food for leftovers.
See our menu
Guests are then given the ingredients needed to make their selected meals, along with the recipes for all the meal options (even the ones they didn't select) and any fresh produce that may be available.
Why do we do things this way? Because we believe that making homemade meals doesn't have to be overwhelming or time consuming. We believe these homemade meals are better than fast food or processed, packaged meals. They are:
There are no requirements or forms to fill out, people just come get the food they need. Because we know what it's like to wonder where your next meal is coming from or how you will feed your kids.
Together, we can help feed people who don't have enough to eat.
Thank you for your support!