When I stayed with my Nonna , for dinner she would cook (3 lbs of beans)bean soup on Sunday morning before church so it would be ready for lunch when we got home. Bread (not corn bread) was baked on Saturday for Sunday's meals. Sunday night we ate leftover bean soup and more bread. There was 5-6 at the meal. Breakfast was toast with jam and coffee or hot tea. Lunch was sandwiches on homemade bread, somethings just butter on the bread (she had milk cows).
Monday she added more water to the bean soup and what ever veggies she had. Might be corn and green beans, might be peas and carrots and Saturday's bread.
Tuesday she would add more veggies and more water and Saturday's bread.
Wednesday she would add potatoes and more water and Saturday's bread
Thursday, more water, onions maybe some veggies and rice.
Friday was more water some tomatoes fresh or that she canned and pasta broken up and Saturday's bread broke into the bowl with the soup poured on top of it.
Saturday was FRESH bread and pasta with tomato sauce and whatever veggie was in the garden or in the pantry she had canned.We all looked forward to Saturday.
About the only thing I saw her buy at the store food wise was orange marmalade, the rest of the jellies and jams she made and olive oil otherwise it was lard from the pigs they raised.
She knew how to make those beans last and it wasn't until my 20s did I realize she only baked bread once a week because the oven she used was outside and baked close to 50 loaves at a time. Didn't want to waste the wood.
SIDE NOTE I bought white vinegar twice a year to use for cleaning that wasn't on the basic list. I used Fels-Naptha soap for dishes, laundry and bathing until Mom started buying us castile for body soap. Toilet paper was whatever was cheapest and we were careful about how much we used. I didn't use paper towels or paper napkins or kleenex until the oldest was close to 8 when we went to Kleenex. My kids will still question me if there is paper napkins in my house with paper towels.I use cloth napkins and have the same ones for the last 20 some years.They are stained but clean.
One of the first things I have done is separate NON-food items and food items.
Starting with the basic foods... whole grains, organic etc wasn't going to happen. I'm putting food on the table...fast food it wasn't happening. Getting up out of the bed at 4 am to bake bread sucks but it's what got bread on the table and warmed the kitchen at the same time.
Think protein instead of meat...and make sure you are only feeding each person one correct serving size.
When I have a beef roast I serve it the first day as a roast, the second as a casserole and the third day as soup (if it has bones I toss them in pot to make broth)...I keep the fat off it and strain it into ice cube trays to flavor other food or make gravies.
I tried to make meatloaf at least every other month, hamburger was stretched with bread crumbs, cracker crumbs or oatmeal even when making patties. Hamburger gravy, or sausage gravy was few and far between. Casseroles (homemade hamburger helper) or pasta sauce (1lb of hamburger to feed 7-9 of us) was about it a couple times a month.
With a turkey or chicken (when the family size got to the point of it taking 3 chickens I started cooking 1 turkey). I serve the first night as a roast, Toss the bones into the pot to make broth ,the second as blue plate special, the third as casserole and the last as soup or noodles or dumplings. Not much meat left on that bird especially a chicken. YES I strain the fat also. (Think Schmaltz of Jewish food).
Pork, so few and far between, I would try to have a pork roast on the first day of fall with root veggies and carrot cake...anything to bring a little cheer into a life. We were living in poverty and little things make the difference in the days. Pork fat is good lard when strained. Blue plate special, BBQ pork sandwiches...now I would add Brunswick stew.
Ten large eggs equal around a pound (sometimes it's more than a pound)...keep that one in mind as the price of eggs goes through the roof. You don't mind paying over $5 for a pound of meat...same should go for eggs WHICH will feed you more per person.
Think a pot of soup on the stove AT LEAST once a week. We floated between beef and vegetable soup (leftover chuck roast), tomato soup (chicken noodle for the child allergic to tomatoes), potato soup, bean soup (change what beans) and chili soup (heavy on the beans and light on the meat) Once in a great while I would make beef stew (with and without dumplings)
Along that line would be chicken and dumplings, chicken and homemade noodles, beef and homemade noodles, tuna noodle casserole, scalloped potato and ham chunks, along with boiled dinners....cabbage,potatoes and carrots boiled together in ham broth, green beans ,potatoes and onions in ham broth (or ham fat),and enchilada casserole (heavy of the beans and light on the meat).
Then there was what I called the blue plate specials...beef,chicken, turkey,ham or pork sliced very thin on bread stuffing or slice of bread, with a side of mashed potatoes covered in gravy.
If dinner was pasta the next day's lunch might have been left over sauce over bread or rice or leftover pasta with butter and garlic powder.
Bean soup got strained to make refried beans with cheese bean burritos and enchilada casserole. Sometimes made into baked beans.
IF there was potato soup left I would add corn for corn chowder and/or chicken for chicken and corn chowder.
Dumplings and noodles/pasta stretched many a meal.Bread fills tummies very well...cornbread was served with beans, and then the next day served with brown sugar syrup for breakfast or a snack or a dessert at the meal. I tried to make mush the same night so I could have fried mush the next day...I'm about the only one that will eat it any more. Did the same with leftover oatmeal. I now have a recipe for oatmeal bread from Mary Ostyn over at owlhaven.net that I have used.
Next will be ONE MORE ROUND