Want a fast, an easy and a delicious way to make the family happy while still keeping within budget? Want an inexpensive alternative to wasting food? How about soup? Budgeting your meals with soup is a great way to save money and have a little fun!
Here are 5 tips for making a budget-friendly soup:
1. Schedule a soup day once a week. I usually schedule soup days on Tuesdays. This is the day before trash pickup when I can clean out my refrigerator without totally wasting the not-so-pretty-but-still-usable produce in my fridge. (Yes, those carrots are still usable.) This also gives me a chance to go through my cabinets to find older (but not expired) cans of broth, beans and meats which I could use for my soup. This keeps me accountable for rotating my foods…and not wasting what I already have. In addition to scheduling a soup day once a week, the next budget soup tip is…
2. Buy local produce. I am a fan of our local farmer’s markets. Produce at the markets are usually inexpensive and very budget-friendly. Food here is fresh and often unusual. Whenever there is an item I am unfamiliar with, I ask the vendors for suggestions on how to cook that product. (Most vendors are happy to share cooking ideas.) This adds to my repertoire of future meals.There is also something about buying my food directly from the people who pulled it out of the ground. In addition to buying local produce, another alternative is…
3. Buy on sale. When I read the sales ads in the paper, I sometimes formulate my soup in accordance to the bargains. An awesome deal on zucchini and on onions? You better believe it’s going into my soup. Great price on beef? How about a beefy soup or stew? Just as the vendors at the farmer’s markets are helpful, produce managers and meat department managers in stores are also great resources for recipes. The next soup tip is…
4. Use leftovers. It’s alright to use leftovers. Let me repeat…it’s alright to use leftovers. There have been a number of times when I cooked a not-so-popular meal that my family simply did not want to eat again for a second night. Rather than wasting the food, I converted it to soup. Given, I don’t use leftovers more than one or two days old…I found that soup is a great disguise for a previous meal-mistake. However, if a meal was really that awful (not that this Happy Balance Girl wants to talk about that burnt steak,) I may simply, discreetly and sadly chuck it out the door rather than ruin a perfectly promising soup. The next soup tip is…
5. Get creative! I used to be the type of cook that needed to have the exact measurements and the right kinds of every ingredient. Soup has liberated me from all of that. Since I often limit myself to using what I have on hand or to what I can find at a great price, I get out of my comfort zone and add ingredients (and do without ingredients) that just tickles my creative spirit and makes me feel daring and adventurous. (Yes, I know….get a life, Stacey 🙂
Honestly, I’ve had both successes and failures in my soup-making experiments. (Although now days, my soup successes seem to outnumber the failures.) Whatever the case, it’s always fun to watch Mr. Happy Balance Guy’s face when he puts the first spoonful of the new soup into his mouth. Maybe he’s become a pro at putting on a smile, no matter what. (What a smart guy 🙂 Or, maybe the soup really is that good. (I like to think this is the case.)
So there you have it…5 tips for budget-friendly souping.
Have fun, live life and….
…have a SOUPER day! (Is that cheesy, or what???!)
The Happy Balance Girl
(Picture at top-Last week’s colorful soup consisting of hamburger, local Okinawan sweet potatoes, local daikon, garbanzo beans, sweet onions, green onions, angus hot dogs and my garden herbs.)
Copyright 2011 by Stacey Shimabukuro-Lui. All rights reserved.