Thursday, July 29, 2010

Portion size and fillers

Do you know what a portion size looks like? It's really not that much. One thing that will eat at your food budget is just how much a family member eats. I have found an interesting thing when it comes to how much of something my kids will eat. One morning I bake them muffins for breakfast. I used regular sized muffins, one batch made up 12 muffins. Each of my kids at TWO whole muffins. I was shocked.

A week later I made muffins again (yes they are a favorite for breakfast around our house, but yummy and homemade!) This time I thought it would be fun to make the mini-muffins which makes 24 little muffins. To my surprise my none of my kids had more than 3 muffins each. So that got me thinking, does it have to do with size? I was thinking 2 regular sized muffins is a bit much for kids to eat. I repeated my theory a few times since my first discovery and each time they ate less of the mini muffins than regular ones.

So what have I learned? By changing the size of the muffins my kids ate less (probably more to their correct portion size) and my muffins lasted twice at long! Which means added bacon in my pocket!

We've used this on other foods as well. One is ground burger. When I make meals that involve meatballs, like the tinfoil meal we had this past week, I make tiny meatballs. I use one pound of burger and get about 25 mini meatballs out of it. The kids eat only 3-4 each, again closer to their portion size, and I feed our family of 5 their protein on only 1 pound of burger for our meal, another budget saver! If you are wondering what a portion of meat is, it's about the size of the palm of your hand- or your kids hand.

Fillers are another way to make your food budget go further. Along with our pound of burger in our tinfoil meal above, I cut up potatos and carrots to have with it. These are both fairly cheap and makes an easy meal. Another filler I use to make our meals stretch further is noodles. We stock up on them when they are cheap or on our trips to SAM's club. By adding a few extra noodles to our meals we can make sure everyone get's plenty to eat and we have leftovers to lunch the next day.

I'll include the recipes I've mentioned above for you to try them out. Great recipes for a healthy budget!

Apple pie muffins:


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cups sugar
2 cups diced apples
I like to use more than one kind of apples if I have them, 
one kind is still yummy though 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 2-12 cup muffin tin pans or 2-24 cup mini muffin tin pans or line with paper muffin cups.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla, sugar and brown sugar until sugar has dissolved. Pour into the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle the diced apple into the bowl as well. Stir just until everything is blended (make sure not to over mix this, it's ok to have lumps). Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, filling the cups to the top.
    3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour and cinnamon. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of melted butter while tossing with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle this over the tops of the muffins.
    4. Bake for 25-30 minutes for regular muffins or 12-16 min for mini- muffins in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed.


    1 lb ground burger
    1 tsp onion powder
    2 tsp chili powder - divided
    2 cans (29oz) tomato sauce
    3 cups (uncooked) elbow noodles

    Boil noodles in water until cooked.
    In large skillet, Brown burger with onion powder and 1 tsp chili powder. Once browned, add in remaining tsp chili powder and 2 cans tomato sauce. Let simmer 5 min. Add in cooked noodles to burger and mix. Let simmer, stirring occasionally for another 10 min until all is heated though. Serve.

    We like to serve this with toast. It's a great meal, especially on winter nights. This usually gives us enough leftovers for lunch for everyone the next day. If you have a smaller family or prefer less noodles, you can decrease this to 2 cups noodles.


    1 comment:

    1. I just found your blog. Excited to learn ways to make our food budget stretch. I really like your idea of planning a menu for 2 weeks. My husband gets paid every two weeks and I struggle with making the groceries last that long between pay checks. We don't eat alot of processed foods and I bake a lot and cook from scratch so that helps.
      Do you have any specific blog entries that will help me to make our grocery money stretch and to help me to be able to spend less at the supermarkets?
      thank you,