How exactly does the mere act of making homemade soup save money? Here are six ways …
By Tiffany, Contributing Writer
Have you ever seen a huge list of easy ways to save money (like this one)? I love those kind of lists. They tell me what to do, I implement, and I save. Easy peasy done!
But every now and then, my inner math nerd wants to know more than just the what to do … I want to know WHY I should make that particular change and HOW this “way to save money” actually saves me money!
As a budget-conscious mama, it’s important to take a step back every now and then to evaluate why I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to make sure my money-saving efforts are working (as in the case of homemade toothpaste and homemade beauty products), and not costing me more in the long run (like homemade ketchup).
With colder months upon us, I decided to tackle the “why” behind the popular frugal tip “make soup” and answered a simple question:
How exactly does the mere act of making homemade soup save me money?
6 Ways Making Soup Saves Me Money
#1. Similar Ingredients Allows Me to Buy in Bulk
There’s a common trend in many soup recipes. Think about it, how many times have you read this line:
Pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot. Add garlic, onions, carrots and celery.
Do you see the trend here? These 5 ingredients (olive oil, garlic, onions, carrots and celery) are the backbone of flavor and aroma, and since they’re common in a lot of homemade soup recipes, you can save money by buying them in bulk.
Garlic, onions and carrots can last for several weeks if stored properly. The same goes for quality olive oil too (here’s how to find the good stuff versus the cheap stuff) and while celery doesn’t last quite as long as-is, you can still stretch it out a bit longer. Dice up fresh celery, flash freeze it in a single layer and then transfer to a freezer-safe container for long term storage . You’ll be able to measure out just what you need for a recipe straight from the freezer.
Some of my favorite recipes that start with these ingredients are:
#2. Using Seasonal Ingredients Means Spending Less
In-season produce is significantly more affordable than out-of-season produce, and you can make a big pot soup out of almost any single vegetable.
For example, in summer when tomatoes are ripe and cheap, we’re making tomato soup. When autumn rolls around and squash is abundant, we’re making squash soup. When the temperatures start to warm again in spring, we’re making cream of asparagus soup!
We aim to pay $1 per pound for conventional produce, $2 per pound for organic and shop according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen whenever possible.
Tip: Keeping a seasonal produce guide and list of the Dirty Dozen in my purse is super handy whether I’m planning at home or shopping at the store. Download both of these for free HERE.
You can start with a basic recipe and tailor it for whatever vegetable you’ve found for a great deal, or you can use these tried-and-true recipes:
#3. Adding Beans is a Frugal Source of Protein
Beans are packed with protein, fiber and keep bellies full for a long time. They’re a frugal mama’s best friend!
Buying dry beans and cooking them from scratch is the most affordable way to go. This also makes them healthier, easier to digest and means you can avoid the gassy side effects that sometimes comes with beans.
If your family isn’t a big fan of beans, start with adding 1 cup of beans to an existing family-favorite soup. Over time, increase the amount of beans until you’re serving a full-fledged bean soup and you’ll really be serving frugal soups!
#4. You Can Make Stock or Broth for Free
Whether your recipe calls for chicken stock, vegetable stock or beef stock, you can make them all for free.
I use my slow cooker to make nourishing stock/broth, but you can use the stove top or an Instant-Pot, too. All you need are bones (for chicken or beef) or vegetable scraps (for vegetable) and water!
#5. Using Food Scraps is Practically Cooking for Free
Not throwing away food is the best way to save on groceries – even the little bits add up over time. The best part about adding scraps to soup is that this works for almost ANY time of food scrap, raw or cooked.
Simply add them to a freezer-safe container and when you accumulate 4 to 8 cups (depending on how much soup you plan on making), you use those scraps instead of the veggies called for in the recipe!
When I first learned this, I thought the pot of soup would be incredibly bland. I’ve since learned that you can tailor the flavor based on the scraps you have. You can add different herbs, puree some or all of the soup to vary the texture, use a different type of stock or even omit the stock and use water and soy sauce for an Asian flavor!
#6. Soup Recipes are Substitution Friendly
You can’t substitute corn for peas in many recipes and not effect the outcome, but this isn’t the case with soups! Barley for rice, peas for carrots, sweet potatoes for white potatoes… the substitution possibilities are endless.
Using what I have and not buying more ingredients keeps the grocery budget low too. Also, you never know when a last-minute substitution will create a soup recipe that you like more than the original!
I don’t know about you, but knowing why I’m saving money helps keep me motivated. Seeing the breakdown of how making soup saves me money makes soup night less dreary, keeps it on our monthly meal plan and keeps my grocery budget frugal!
More soup-related posts you might find helpful:
- 16 Slow Cooker Soups and Chilis for the Fall
- How to Make Cream of Anything Soup
- Homemade Bread (because every homemade soup tastes better with homemade bread!)