Practice stretching when you cook these days

Still a little fearful of grocery shopping, even though you have the mask, gloves, sanitizer and hand-washing down to a comfy habit? Thought you’d be done with all that by now?

Normal will return, of course, but there’s no predicting what it will look like. So I suggest a new habit, one that will keep your grocery store visits and spending more manageable while serving the family wholesome, healthy foods. The not-so-secret hack here is fiber, carbohydrates, protein and experimentation.

Fiber, carbs and protein are necessities, but also sure-fire tummy-fillers. Add fresh vegetables in large portions to any meal. Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, spinach are all great for fiber and healthy nutrients. Beans, other legumes, eggs, meat, are tops at providing protein. Grains, potatoes, flour and many veggies bring the energizing carbohydrates to the table.

Sample the following recipes and let them be a sort of template for your own unique “hacks” to increase how far a meal can go in both volume and nutrition.


Hearty, healthy, and stick-to-the-ribs tasty

3 Cs butternut squash

1 C cubed potatoes

1 medium onion, diced

Vegetable oil or butter

2 C cooked, shredded chicken, leftovers or canned (drained

4 C chicken broth

2 C fresh spinach leaves, cut in half or thirds

1 clove garlic or 1 Tbls garlic, minced

Salt or additional herbs and spices to taste

Cut the squash and potatoes into medium-small cubes. Place the cubed vegetables in a large bowl and toss with garlic and a bit of olive oil until vegetables are coated. Then place on a baking pan and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, dice the onion and, in a medium pan, fry them in a bit of vegetable oil or butter until transparent. Place the onions, chicken, and broth into a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. After the vegetables are finished roasting, add them into the soup. Stir in spices or herbs as you desire, such as: thyme, rosemary, tarragon, parsley, sage, oregano, turmeric, etc.

When the soup begins to simmer and is heated through, add in the spinach and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. Makes six or more bowls, depending on serving size.

Tip: Stretch leftover soup for 3 to 4 more servings by adding 1/2 C each of chopped fresh cauliflower and broccoli and one small can of corn kernels or carrot slices, or both, drained, to the pot. Then add more water to the pot


Stretches the bowl meal, but also can sub for potatoes as a side dish

1 C all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. white sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

½ C milk

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in medium size bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk to make a soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls into the boiling stew. Cover and simmer 15 minutes without lifting lid. Makes 6 large or 8-10 smaller dumplings. Or, double the recipe for a dozen or more dumplings. Alternatively, you can cut cooled dumplings in half with a pair of sharp scissors.

Note: To make herbed dumplings, add 1 tablespoon minced herbs, such as dill weed, rosemary, onion, or parsley flakes to the dry ingredients.


Delicious together, oatmeal and eggs stretch breakfast fare by 2

1 C quick cooking oatmeal 

1 1/2 C milk of your choice 

1 large egg or 2 medium/small

Over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. Do not let it boil or even bubble up.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl vigorously whisk the eggs for 15 to 20 seconds. 

Once the milk starts simmering, add the oats and mix well. The oats will immediately start cooking. Add the whisked egg, a little at a time. Alternate between adding egg and stirring. Continue stirring until oatmeal is fluffy and moist. For even more protein, swirl peanut butter through each bowl before serving.

Top with fruits, chocolate chips, honey, maple syrup or use your imagination. Makes 3 to 4 servings, depending on bowl size. Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 2-3 days. Reheat, stirring, before serving.

By Jean Redstone

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Swedesboro NJ
June 8, 2023, 6:14 pm
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