Budget-Friendly Meal Stretchers Kids Will Enjoy

When funds are low, kids still need to be fed. Try some budget-friendly meal stretchers to get your family through those lean times.

In a perfect world, all parents would be financially able to provide enough food for their children to eat on a regular basis. Unfortunately, feeding kids every day is a struggle for a lot of moms and dads. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 49.1 million Americans, including 16.7 million kids didn’t have enough food to meet their needs in 2020.

Budget-friendly meal stretchers like beans, pasta, and potatoes can feed children heartily while helping those dollars go a bit further at the grocery store. These foods are filling, delicious, versatile and they pack a powerful nutritional punch.

Pasta is Budget-Friendly Meal Stretchers

Spaghetti, macaroni, fettuccine, vermicelli, lasagna, linguine, manicotti, penne, and ziti – there is plenty of pasta to choose from. Mix pasta with a variety of sauces, seasonings, veggies, and meats to make one-pot meals that will fill kids up and satisfy their taste buds. For instance, mixing spaghetti noodles with tomato sauce, ground beef, and Italian seasonings will make budget-friendly meal kids will devour.

Pasta contains carbohydrates that help fuel a child’s muscles and brain. Pasta also contains fiber to help regulate bowel functions. Add more nutritional value to your child’s diet by using whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta.

Dry Beans Help Stretch the Family Food Budget

Dry beans are not only a budget-friendly way to stretch family meals, they’re packed with protein. This essential nutrient builds and repairs tissue in the body and helps maintain healthy muscles. Protein is also important for hair and nails, the replenishment of lost blood, the replacement of dead cells, and the healthy functioning of the immune and nervous systems.

Pinto, black-eyed peas, kidney, black beans, lima, navy, and garbanzo – the varieties of beans are endless. Use beans to make delicious stews and soups, sprinkle them on salads, or serve them as a savory side dish. The high protein content of beans makes them an excellent meat substitute. So if your child is a vegetarian, beans should be a staple in his diet.

White Potatoes are Budget-Friendly

White potatoes are one of the most versatile, budget-friendly foods available. You can bake, mash, stew, or fry them. You can also mix potatoes with other ingredients to make tasty au gratin or potato salads.

When a potato is baked with the skin on, it is a great source of potassium. This nutrient is essential to heart and nerve functions in the body. Potassium also regulates the transfer of nutrients into cells, facilitates muscle energy, regulates blood pressure, and helps eliminate wastes.

When finances are tight, budget-friendly foods such as potatoes, beans, and pasta will give you plenty of meal options to satisfy children and help stretch your grocery budget a bit further.


  • United States Department of Agriculture (accessed August 27, 2010).
  • National Pasta Association (accessed August 27, 2010).
  • WebMD. “The Benefits of Protein” (accessed August 27, 2010).
  • Washington State Potato Commission (accessed August 27, 2010).

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