In theme with my frugal meal plan I have created an example of a frugal soup. Much like in my stew recipe (link here), the main concept is putting in cheap ingredients that add BULK. By cooking in bulk and freezing serves for later, you can not only save yourself some precious time later on, but make the most of whatever cheap digs you find at your local veggie store.
Here is my ingredient outline:
In the end though, I could only fit in half the potatoes (1kg) so the running total was more like $8.60.
These prices were from my actual receipt so were completely accurate. I went to two local veggie stores to find my deals, and actually overspent on potatoes. Mine were $1.80/kg which I thought was pretty good, but I found a 10kg pack at the next store that worked out at $1.30/kg (It’s not worth it to me to bother washing dirty potatoes time-wise, but you can get those as low as 99c/kg) so it could actually work out much cheaper if you shop right!
Here are my potatoes – as I said, I only ended up using approx 1kg of them (what’s on the scales) and the rest got put back for another meal.
5 onions worked out to be about 1 kg. Onions add a great texture to soups and stews so I use them a lot!
The spring onions weren’t NECESSARY as such, but they do add a bit of extra flavour. I also just had this left over from my stew so wanted to use them up.I also ddn’t want to use a heap of carrots, as potatoes bulk out better so I prioritized them instead. Carrots are still a great flavour and texture to blend in though, and helps veggie soup to have a beautiful rich colour which is nice and appetizing!
$3.00 is a lot for a pumpkin in my mind – I usually wait for the big Crown pumpkins to get well into season where I can get a whole one for approx $2.50 or thereabouts. Buttercups are smaller as well, so deep into winter this stew can be even more economical, but I didn’t mind getting this pumpkin in this case – you need to satisfy your cravings after all…
Here you can see the sizes I’ve chopped everything. It’s fairly chunky, but the smaller you chop your ingredients the more you can fit in, so it’s a good strategy! You’ll want to let it cook most of the day (or overnight if that’s your thing) to make sure your potatoes cook the whole way through, especially if they’re chunky like mine.
You might also notice the capsicum on the top! This wasn’t on my ingredient list as it was some leftovers from a barbeque a previous night. It’s probably about 50c worth, as I got a couple for $1 in a clearance bin a couple days previous. The orange ones especially give a little extra sweetness – and between these and the spring onions if you had the choice the capsicums definitely add a little extra taste!
Here you can see it cooked and ready to be pureed! You can use a food processor, or a Tupperware Extra Chef or Smooth Chopper (hand operated processors, so a little more effort, but less mess to clean up afterwards!)
You strain out the veggies to make sure you don’t get too much water, then add approx half a cup or so of your cooking water to each lot to help it blend nicely.
Be careful not to overfill your processor, as it’s a thick mixture and can be a pain if big chunks get stuck circulating at the top!
This kind of texture is great! You can blend it longer to completely puree it if you like, but it’s perfectly fine for it to have lumps! This is also great as-is for baby food from approx 8-9 months.
Here is the total rewards of my days effort! 8 containers of soup (that’s 16 serves) plus two containers of vegetable stock to use in other recipes (great in risottos for example!) So far we’re at 55c per serve for this soup (completely excluding the fact that we have free stock!)
This is also actually quite a space-efficient way to freeze them, as it’s a reduced bulk meal – that means that when you defrost it, you’ll add in milk while reheating and bulk it up to a full meal size.
When reheating, add in milk and spices (It might be more economical to do this in the slow cooker rather than at the end each time, but I do it this way specifically because I like to separate some out for baby food). I love Cajun or Moroccan spice, and think it brings out the flavour of the pumpkin. Another cheaper option is curry powder and/or turmeric. A bit of cracked pepper will also do nicely.
Add milk gradually, stirring it in as you go. It’s a good medium to bulk out your soup while keeping it creamy. So far I’ve probably only added about 50c worth (. You can also sneak in a bit of water instead if you don’t mind your soup being a bit more runny. With the milk and spice I’ve probably brought the running total up to about 80c each.
Bread is a great side, but we found we could barely get through 1 slice with our soup as it was so filling!!
We also WAY overdid it on the cheese, but I’m a sucker for cheese anyway…
12 frozen meals!! Not bad for two nights of cooking!!
See my Frugal Stew at $1.38 per serve here.