I’d like to add my own spin to Serena’s excellent Stretch Your Food Dollar series. One of the reasons I recently launched a mircroenterprise to feed my friends as well as my family is that I was getting into the habit of making high yield and healthy dishes to nibble on over the course of a few days rather than prepare each individual meal prior to eating it. Like most people, I want to maximize the value for the invested dollars and effort. I’ve learned that making twice as much is not twice as costly.

Of course there are twice as many raw ingredients but if you put a value on time spent in prep and clean up then you are far better off making a couple of large dishes at the same time. I’m surprised at how inexpensively I can make a large variety of healthy dishes. Often they are less than $1/serving. There is typically less waste as well. In the past, even with the best intentions, I’d frequently have to toss out the ½ onion, ½ bunch of cilantro or ½ other perishable good.

Even when I was working full time, I’d spent a few hours on a Sunday preparing meals that would provide lunches and dinners through the better part of the week. I know there are food purists out there cringing right now at the thought of 3 day old lentil salad but the secret is really in choosing those dishes that will keep, and usually improve, over time. A traditional salad, for example, without tomatoes or dressing will last a couple days in the refrigerator. Hearty greens such as kale or collards are great raw but dressed with the juice of a lemon, a combination of sesame and olive oil, salt and pepper. This easily provides a few days of nutritious side dishes for two.

Gazpacho is an example of a dish I’ve been making a lot lately in response to the Florida heat that gets better with each passing day. Which is a relief because it’s a bit of a time sink prepwise. There is something really comforting about having a refrigerator full of food and it definitely reduces the temptation to eat out because “there’s nothing in the house”.

Now I don’t claim that making meals in bulk is a novel concept but since food, and the costs associated with it, are such an important part of all our lives, I thought I’d keep the conversation going and share some favorite high yield and healthy recipes (here’s another) and ask Queercents readers to do the same if they are so inclined.

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