In my Budget Cauliflower post, I touched on how mastering a few key skills can help greatly reduce your grocery bill while still bringing home healthy food. Healthy food can be expensive so we need to be smart shoppers in order to feed nourishing food to ourselves and our families. You can read the full post here which includes a delicious budget-friendly cauliflower soup recipe!
The post was well received, so I figured I’d follow it up with some more effective ways to reduce those pesky food bills.
The first thing you should do is figure out what things you can make from scratch. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I suggest choosing just one item to focus on.
Today, let’s apply our focus on soup. Pre-made soup can actually be pretty expensive and the prices skyrocket if you buy them from a health food store. I realize there is super-cheap canned soup options however I wouldn’t consider them very healthy.
Let’s tell canned soup to hit the road and welcome homemade soup into our lives. It’s ok to say goodbye. You’ll be surprised at how liberated you feel. I don’t even venture down that isle anymore!
By forgoing pre-made soups you will rid yourself of unhealthy ingredients, copious amounts of salt and be able to lower your food bill at the same time . A win-win-win.
Here are a few suggestions to help with the transition.
BUY LOCAL AND IN-SEASON
Try using local ingredients. Local ingredients are priced lower when they are in-season. If local cauliflower is on sale by the head then that is a great time for creamy cauliflower soup. Stay in harmony with your local climate and you can save a lot of money! Put your off-season recipes aside and wait for a sale before you pull them back out.
MAKE YOUR OWN
Make homemade broth or simply use water as the base. Pre-made broth/stock is majorly overpriced. Plus, the premade stuff is often loaded with questionable ingredients. You’d be surprised how flavourful homemade soup can be when you sauté your onions and veggie base with sea salt to bring out their natural juices and flavours. You can create fantastic flavour using fresh ingredients, aromatics and simple cooking techniques.
BUY CHEAPER ITEMS
Buy cheap? Yes! Get in the habit of using cheaper root veggies as the base your soup. Sometimes I can get a 10 pound bag of carrots, potatoes or beets for $1.99 a bag. Root veggies store well and make a fabulous base for soups. You can always add flavour highlights with your favourite more expensive veggies.
DOUBLE UP (OR TRIPLE!) AND USE YOUR FREEZER
Doubling or tripling a batch is an awesome way to save cooking time and reduce cost. You’re already cooking so why not make more? Yes, you will have to prep and chop more veggies BUT you will have many more enjoyable meals from your doubled or tripled batch of soup. I don’t know about you, but I love opening the freezer to individually packed soup bowls ready for heating. I rely heavily on frozen soup bowls for weekday lunches.
PROMOTE SOUP TO A MAIN DISH AND GET CREATIVE
Soup doesn’t always have to be a side dish or starter. Why not give it a promotion to main dish? Try adding more ingredients like spiced ground beef, cooked beans or chopped chicken to transform your soup into a fully balanced meal. Crumbled bacon is a favourite in my house. For more greens, try adding some sautéed veggies or raw diced veggies for extra texture and crunch. I also love adding roasted root veggies for extra creaminess and flavour. You can puree your roasted vegetables or leave as is for a chunky, rustic texture. Lastly, don’t forget about adding grains like rice or paleo options like cauliflower rice.
By treating soup as a main dish, you can reduce your food bill by adding smaller amounts of expensive meat or veggies but still having a delicious, healthy and totally satisfying meal.
MAKE IT CONVENIENT
Convenience sells for a reason. Everyone loves opening the fridge to pre-made food that is ready to eat. The down side is that convenience food costs a fortune and even worse, is almost always bad for you.
Make a big batch of healthy soup, store into single-serving freezable dishes that you can freeze for another day. When you don’t feel like cooking, let your soup be your convenience food. All you have to do is take out of the freezer and heat!
Here is a budget friendly soup recipe that uses a cheaper root vegetable as the base. I used water as the liquid which further reduces the cost. I’ve added in a flavourful ground pork for protein that compliments the soup so well. Lastly, fresh herbs and a touch of cream makes this soup pop.
Note: To even further reduce the cost of this soup, add less ground pork to your soup bowl or consider replacing the ground pork in the recipe with beans. The spice mixture will flavour the beans beautifully.
Chili-Lime Carrot Soup with Garlicky Pork + Cilantro
Soup yield: 7 cups
- 1 tbsp fat of choice
- 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
- 2 pound bag of carrots, chopped
- 3-4 cups filtered water
- 1 hot pepper, minced
- 4 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 tsp pink or sea salt or more to taste
- Fresh chopped cilantro to top
- 1 small cooking onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean ground pork
- 1 tbsp fat of choice
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp ground thyme
- 4 small garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp pink or sea salt
- Sauté white onions in a medium to large dutch oven with the 1 tbsp fat of choice until soft + translucent. Add a pinch of salt to the onions when cooking to bring out their natural juices and flavour.
- Add the minced chili pepper and garlic to the dutch oven and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
- Add the chopped carrots and stir to combine.
- Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer until carrots are soft.
- In the meantime, prepare the pork mixture.
- Sauté the cooking onion in a medium-sized frying pan with 1 tbsp fat of choice until soft + translucent. Add a pinch of salt to bring out their natural juices and flavour.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan with the onions and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, approximately 1 minute.
- Add 3 tbsp of red wine vinegar to the pan to help scrape up all the small onion pieces + flavour and let cook off until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the spices and salt to the onion/garlic mixture and combine well.
- Add in the ground pork and continue to cook, breaking up the pork as you cook, until the pork is no longer pink and cooked throughout.
- Chop the fresh cilantro and set aside.
- Once the carrots are soft, puree the soup to your desired consistency. Add the juice of 1 lime, add desired salt and taste for flavour.
- Prepare your soup bowl using the suggested combinations below and enjoy!
To prepare soup bowl:
Combine 1 cup soup with 1/4 cup meat mixture. Top with 1 tsp chopped cilantro and mix to combine. Drizzle with 1 tsp coconut cream or full fat cream and serve immediately.