A couple of years ago as Christmas time approached, I did something with our food (probably not realizing what I was doing at first) that really saved us some money right before Christmas. But when I realized how much money (almost our whole weekly food budget) I had saved and how easy suppers were that week, I decided to I would do this every year. And it has proved to be a worthwhile effort. So much so, that I’m sharing it with you!
Before I get to main idea of what I did, I need to share some tips that need to be taken into account for you to fully benefit from what I did.
First is to cook soups more often in the winter. I don’t know about you, but this just comes naturally to us. I have always liked chili and veggie soup, but I wasn’t much for many other soups. I think part of it was that I didn’t know how to cook many of them. (I know I know, it’s soup right-how hard can that be.) And here in Alabama since our weather is pretty warm most of the year, soups just weren’t appealing.
As I have read and learned more about real, nourishing foods, I have become increasingly aware of the incredible health benefits of soups. So much so that I could (almost) eat soups-especially chili-any time of the year. Especially when I began adding one ingredient which I’ll tell you about in just a moment. 🙂 I have also learned to make a wide variety of soups-BLT soup, Collard soup, Potato soup, Summer Veggie soup, just to name a few.
Another great benefit of soups, is that even for larger families, they go a long way. When I cook any kind of soup now, I cook it in my Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven (which I love and think every home cook needs). It is so large that I can cook 1 pot and have enough for leftovers the next day and sometimes even another bowl full to freeze which are great meals for my husband to take to work.
Since soups can be stretched so far, they just naturally are money-savers. To make them stretch even farther and to add even more health benefits, I add my secret ingredient to EVERY soup (even chili). What is this wonderful ingredient, you ask? It’s chicken or bone broth. Yes, it’s really simple I know. But broth is so good for you.
Broth is packed with gut healing and soothing nutrients that are very easy for the body to digest. And leave that layer of gelatin on it that forms after it’s cooled. That is good for you too. The gelatin in broth is great for your skin (bye, bye wrinkles), hair and nails. Once we began adding broth to our diet our hair and nails began growing like crazy. This past summer I cut a total of 22 inches off my and my 3 kiddos hair-and it was still long. Did I tell you it helps your hair to grow?
Not only will broth benefit your hair, skin and nails and sooth tummy or digestion issues, but chicken broth adds so much flavor to soups. When I began adding it to our chili, my whole family began raving over it. I mean, we liked chili before but now we are crazy over it. And adding about 16 oz to a big pot will stretch that chili or soup even farther for you.
But let me make this point very clear-I don’t buy broth, I make it. I did use all my frozen reserves recently and had to buy some from store. It was hard, y’all! Especially when it was about $3 for a carton of it. Youch! The chicken I bought (to make more broth and use as a meal) was not quite $6 and even though I add some carrots, onions, and garlic I usually keep these stocked so I don’t really add those into the price. And that one chicken will make a 12 quart stock pot full of broth! That’s a lot of broth y’all. This will last me at least a month or longer, depending on the time of year. Oh, and I won’t go into some of the nasty ingredients in store bought broth-MSG, coloring (people it’s broth, why color it???), preservatives and lots of processed salt. So just save your money and health and make your own.
Ok, so now we know to make more soups and to use broth to make then tastier, healthier, and go farther. Now to the final piece of the money saving tip. Since you’re making soups (which cost less) and are adding broth (to make them go farther), start NOW and each time you make soup (or any other cheap meal) make enough to feed your family twice. If you plan on just doing this only once a week, you should be able to squeeze it into your budget, and that’s really all it takes. Then the week before or week of Christmas, you will have a freezer full of healthy, premade meals!
You should have enough for every evening meal for 6 days which, if your like us, is the bulk of our grocery budget. For each meal we have for supper, we eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, so actually doing this I have supper and the next day’s lunch made. All that is left for me to buy is breakfast and snacks. This gives me a huge chunk of our budget to devote to any last minute Christmas gifts, stocking stuffers, etc.
Another benefit is that I have supper already made for the whole week-what a much needed time-saver and stress-reducer for that week. You know the week of Christmas is so busy with all the last minute shopping and parties and get-togethers. It’s nice to be able to slow down and not stress over meals. One less thing to worry about-that means more time to bake cookies and all the other holiday treats, right? 🙂
I hope this helps you save money and eat healthier during the holidays as much as it has for us. Do you have some ways to fit more into your budget during the holiday? How about ways to eat healthier without blowing the budget? I’d love to hear your great ideas, so please leave a comment below.
Be watching, I’m going to be adding some of our favorite soup recipes these next few weeks! Until then,
Happy Herbing and Saving It Up!
P.S.-If you haven’t gone over to Boldturqoise yet to listen to the new podcast, make sure you do so-you won’t be disappointed. Also, the mugs and journals are on sale ONLY UNTIL THIS THURSDAY! So make sure you get yours ordered before then, we don’t know how many will be available after that.