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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - A Easy Soup Week

Frugal Kitchens 101

Soup is like one of the most frugal, homemade meals you can make.  It is inexpensive if not downright cheap!  Many will make a huge pot of soup then serve that soup several times throughout the week.  While this is very cost effective it can get rather boring.  Now don't get me wrong as this method does work and is extremely frugal but I have developed an variation that keeps the soup from ever getting boring.  In fact you can have a different soup nightly simply by modifying a few ingredients once you have the basics in the refrigerator.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 shares how to create variety in soups without breaking the budget.

My husband was away at hunt camp.  I wanted homemade soup but the idea of eating the same soup for the rest of the week wasn't very appealing.  True I could have canned or froze it but I wanted something warm and comforting for dinner but the last thing I wanted was boring even though it was soup based on many of the same ingredients.  The key to making this work is to keep the prepared ingredients separate until making the actual soup of the day. 

Cooked ahead:

  • broth - I made the beef broth like stock in the pressure cooker using 2 large soup bones.  I browned them first in a little olive oil then added the other ingredients as for stock but added 12 c of water and cooked in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes.  Once cooked I moved removed the soup bones with meat, strained the broth and set aside to cool for defatting.  You can use any type of broth you like as long as it is defatted.
  • meat - I cut the meat from the bone, shredding and removing fat as necessary.
  • pasta or rice or barley - Each night that I added pasta or rice or barley to the new soup pot.    All can be cooked quickly ahead of time the first of the week then the desired ingredient added to the soup pot.  At most make only 2 cups of either or 1 cup of each.
Prepared ahead:
  • frozen vegetables -  I used 2 c of a broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix but any frozen vegetables can be used.  Pour the frozen vegetables into a food storage bowl and place in the refrigerator.
  • fresh vegetables -  Chop fresh onions, cherry tomatoes or any other desired fresh vegetable to sprinkle over the soup.  Place in a food storage container and put in the refrigerator.
  • beans - I used home canned black beans for one soup variation but you can use and canned bean desired.
  • Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Maggi, salt, pepper as desired
  • green onion, chives, grated Parmesan, or any other desired garnish
There should be at least 5 storage bowls for the refrigerator at this point.  Basically what you've set up is a mix and match system.  Now here is where it gets fun.  The first night add a few ladles of broth to a medium sized sauce pan,  stir in about 3 tbsp of meat and a 1/2 c of frozen vegetables.  Warm to just a low boil. Stir in 1/2 c or more of desired prepared pasta, rice or barley.  Stir in 2 - 3 tbsp beans as desired.  Season as desired with one listed or one of your choice.  Garnish and enjoy!  The next night start with broth then add desired ingredients perhaps changing out one or omitting one or changing the seasonings or garnishes.  When done this way you should be able to get five types of soup out of these ingredients depending on the number of people being served.

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