Meatloaf is a great meal when it comes to being frugal in the kitchen. With a little bit of thought, it can be stretched out to serve more with less meat, the most expensive ingredient in the dish. Here are five general ways that you can use the humble meat-loaf to make some delicious but frugal meals.
For this exercise in stretching a meat-loaf, I’ll assume that you are already doing your frugal best by using less expensive choices in meat. I usually make a meat-loaf using ground turkey, which I can get pretty inexpensively on sale and in bulk. Meat-loaf generally freezes well, too, so having some on hand and ready for dinner is a great way to save because you will be less tempted to eat out.
The key to stretching out a meat-loaf is by adding in other ingredients that either increase the size of your meat-loaf or substitute for the meat. One of my favorite ways to do this is with seasoned stuffing. A little seasoned stuffing, and egg and some milk make a really nice and moist meat-loaf. Check out the Food Blog for a recipe for Thanksgiving Meat-loaf that uses this idea.
Cooked rice is a second great way to stretch out a meat-loaf. You can use plain white or brown rice, Basamati rice or seasoned rice. Leftover fried rice from Chinese take out makes an interesting meat-loaf, as long as the rice is still moist.
For something different in a meat-loaf, try oats mixed with milk or cooked oatmeal. For obvious reasons, you don’t want any flavored oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is too expensive anyway, but cooked oatmeal works wonders in stretching a meat-loaf. Planing ahead, you can make your oatmeal for breakfast and have some leftover for your meat-loaf at dinner.
Cooked vegetables are another great way to stretch out a meat-loaf. Just make sure that the vegetables are cooked well and diced into small pieces. The possibilities for this are almost endless. I’ve stretched out a meat-loaf using glazed carrots, cooked peas, leftover cooked asparagus that had lost its crunch and more. A little spinach and swiss cheese is really tasty.
Do you have any favorite ways to stretch a meal?