Today, we’re talking about stretching, but not in the form of exercise—although a good stretch and a little bit of exercise in the morning can put a positive healthy outlook on the day ahead. Today we’re going to talk about stretching your meals!
In these uncertain times, we may find ourselves with less on hand than normal, and thinking, “How can I make sure my family feels satisfied and full after each meal?” So, let’s learn together how to stretch a meal using up what foods you already have, and how to make sure the meals are healthy and delicious, too!
Veggies are a great addition to your meal, and those that are in season are usually affordable. It’s easy to always have veggies on hand if you buy frozen bags. Not only will veggies help fill you up, but you’ll also get added nutrients!
Beans are another great option for a side dish. They’re filling and also add a ton of protein and fiber to your diet. Beans are also a perfect addition to salads, tacos, chili, soups, and more.
If you feel like you’re short on protein, try stretching your meal with pasta. Pasta is inexpensive, filling, and delicious! Toss in leftover chicken, sausage, beef, or fish. You can even make a casserole dish with cheese, pasta, sauce, and leftover proteins. Using whole-wheat pasta will add a bit of fiber, as well.
Rice goes with almost anything! You can serve it with chicken, beef, or fish, and a little goes a long way. Make a stirfry with some veggies and put it over rice, andyou’ll have a delicious meal to feed the whole family.
Cooked potatoes with skin are a good source of vitamins and minerals like potassium and vitamin C. They’re also a delicious option when it comes to stretching a meal. You can throw them into soups or stews, or fill them with steamed broccoli and shredded cheese. Top with yogurt or sour cream for a deliciously easy dish!
Salads can become the main course when topped with some protein. It’s a great way to get some extra veggies in too. Try adding grilled chicken caesar or salmon, or making it a taco salad!
If you have eggs—a great source of protein—you can pretty much make anything into a meal. I turned some leftover broccoli, goat cheese, and avocado into a frittata! You can also prepare quiches and omelets; all of which are easy to make and will easily feed your family for any meal.
Here’s hoping that some of these ideas help you ‘stretch’ the items in your kitchen into delicious and healthy meals for your family. We encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with us on Facebook and Instagram. Stay safe and stay healthy!
By: Chef Gary Appelsies, MS
Director of Healthy Eating
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