I personally am not a soup lover. It's my opinion that I can just eat some vegetables and drink water and be just as full as if I had eaten soup. I'm not a vegetarian, nor am I a low carb eater. That alone says that what I really mean is that it's not filling to me at all. However, in my household I'm more than just the minority. I'm the only one who feels that way.
I love history and I've always imagined that soup was originally used for two purposes. 1. To stretch a meal. 2. To use leftovers. I have to admit that I laugh at all the recipes of quick and easy soups that involve cans of this and cans of that. Seriously? That's not homemade soup. If you're going that far, just buy some Campbell's and be done with it. It's still soup in a can!
Going out to buy vegetables for just soup is, also in my opinion, a waste of money. Well, unless you're on a super low budget and you're trying to achieve #1 above. That's understandable. However, if you're making a big pot of hearty soup, then that's a waste.
I hear families that say their children hate leftovers. I've never had that problem. My kids (now adults) have always loved my cooking and they were more than happy to eat leftovers. However, there were always just a small portion left that really wasn't enough for a suitable side dish. It then became apparent to me that there were a number of ways I could stop wasting and put that tiny amount to good use.
Enter the vegetable soup bag. I have a gallon sized freezer bag in the door of my freezer. Whenever there is a tiny portion left that isn't enough for a meal, I scrape it into the bag. Maybe it's a slice or two of onion after a salad, maybe it's some cabbage or perhaps even just a wee bit of leftover chopped chicken for enchiladas or even a spoonful or two of spaghetti sauce. It really doesn't matter! So long as it's a vegetable, meat or a pasta, it gets thrown into the bag. Corn, broccoli, even cheese (no, not a meat or vegetable or pasta, but it is always a great addition to soup)! It just gets plopped in that bag. Once it's full, then I put it in a pot, pour some broth (any kind you have on hand) over it just enough to cover, heat well and tada! Homemade soup without any fuss.
The only thing you really can't use is probably bread, but pasta (despite what many say) freezes rather well. Even some leftover mac and cheese goes well in there. Cheese added to a soup is just as delicious. I've never tried using mashed potatoes, but any leftover potatoes that need to be used I slice up and throw it in the bag. Same with carrots.
How many times do you have to buy a full bag of carrots when you really only need two? What do you do with the rest of them? Well, naturally you can serve them as a side and use some in salads, but invariably you're still going to end up not using a few. Those get chopped up and put into my bag. The same goes with a number of vegetables.
The possibilities are endless. One Super Bowl weekend I made some meatballs. I had maybe 3 left. Those got sliced up and throw in.
My son was sick the other day (yes, both my kids have moved back home, um, yeah) with a lot of vomiting. I just went into the kitchen, plopped a chicken leg quarter into a 2-qt pot, poured water over it and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then I dumped in enough veggies to to fill it up a bit and a few minutes later, homemade soup. He was thrilled!
I buy a ton of leg quarters because they're always on sale here. I've learned to make my own broth using them and I either de-bone it to use for things such as enchiladas or even white chicken chili, or in the case of soup, I just leave it whole and let the kids pull the meat out themselves.
So! That's today's cheap and frugal food tip.
What do you do to save money on your food bills and how do you waste not want not?