Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Nutritious, Easy, Cheap Meal

I don't think there is a more delicious, nutritious, cheap meal than homemade soup. I make turkey rice, chicken rice, beef barley, minestrone, vegetable, vegetable beef, tomato, and bean soups with regularity in the Fall and Winter months. After 48 years of marriage, I am very experienced at making soups without a recipe. 

Knowing that a lot of you might be cooking hams for Christmas, I cooked one of mine last Sunday for dinner. We have been eating leftovers all week. Yesterday, I wanted to make bean soup for dinner. However, I didn't get home from an appointment until noon.
Fortunately, I had soaked a pot of beans overnight so they were ready to go. I threw about 1 1/4 lbs. of northern beans into my crockpot.  I added my ham bone with some meat still on it and then added water to cover the beans and most of the ham bone. During the cooking process, I would turn the bone over every once in a while so that the meat would easily fall off of it. I also added a tablespoon of dry mustard, a teaspoon of basil and a teaspoon of thyme. Just before 6PM, I took the bone out and made sure to put any little bits of meat that were still on the bone into the pot. By dinnertime the soup was not cooked enough. So I left it to cook another 2 hours. Then I turned it off and put it in the cold garage to let it cool down. Before I went to bed, I put it in the refrigerator. This afternoon I finished the cooking process and it is on keep warm. We can't wait to eat it for dinner. It is a crisp, cool, very windy day here and soup is going to hit the spot. 

This bean soup is probably the cheapest soup I make. It is so flavorful, full of protein, and filling. I never cook with salt so we add what we need to our bowls. It definitely finishes off the soup to add a little salt. There is just enough ham in it to get some in each ladle full. We need nothing else to eat with this. It's a meal by itself. We are looking forward to many meals of soup this weekend and then I will freeze the rest into meal size portions.

I buy my beans in bulk and store them in food grade buckets in my basement. The soup probably has $ .75 worth of beans in it, a few bits of ham from close to the bone and then a few pennies for the spices that I also put in it. We can probably get 5 meals for the 2 of us from the crockpot full. So let's say the entire pot cost $1.00 - $ 1.50. Those 5 meals are $ .20 - $ .30 each for 2 of us. I don't think that too many recipes cost this little. So if you are looking for a way to use up some ham after Christmas, this is an easy cheap meal.

While I was soaking the beans overnight, I soaked enough to put some in the freezer for some casseroles in the future. That way the beans will be ready to cook when I am.  I also had about 4 meals of ham left so I used my food saver and then froze them for future meals. No food is wasted in our home.

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