This may seem like an obvious tip to many more seasoned cooks, but it was a new one to me: if you want your meat to go further, shred it.
I discovered this one kind of by accident. I was making chicken tacos for dinner, and I threw two chicken breasts in the crockpot with some liquid and seasoning. I came home, pulled out the chicken, shredded it with two forks and served it with tortillas, cheese and salsa for a really simple weeknight meal. It was then that I noticed the magic of it.
We had leftovers. A lot of leftovers.
Huh? Two chicken breasts is usually my pre-portioned meal for the two of us. When I serve it whole, we each eat an entire chicken breast, easily. But shredded, we had only eaten about half of it.
Curious to repeat, I threw some pork chops in the crockpot with bbq sauce the next week, and yup! We ate less of that too!
The key, it seems, is perception. One chicken breast on a plate seems like an appropriate amount of food, so we eat it. When the meat is shredded, though, our eyes serve as less of a guide than our stomachs and so we eat only as much as we actually want. I've since done similar things by slicing steaks or slicing chicken breasts in half, and have found it to be a universal in my house that when the food is in smaller pieces we eat less of it.
Since meat is one of the more expensive parts of our food budget, this is a great way to make it stretch!
For more tips, check out Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.