As I said, readers have been asking to know more about what we do and how we organise our family life and finances.
So tonight I’ll tell you about what we did last weekend.
I wasn’t travelling and John wasn’t travelling.
We were organised and on Saturday morning, over a cup of Colombian home-made espresso, we made the menu for the coming week.
Then we made the shopping list.
And as I’ve been telling you to do, we went food shopping armed with a shopping list for what we intend to cook and with a calculator.
Then we saw that carrots and celery are two of the six ‘Super 6’ offers on fruit and vegetables in ALDI. So we bought some; we had to buy potatoes anyway and at home we already had five kilograms of red lentils (splendid food for ladies at certain age who feel hot and need to lose a bit fat around the middle).
Where five years ago we would have contributed all these vegetables to the organic waste that suffocates the Planet, last weekend we transformed a cheap pile of vegetables, pulses and some minor other ingredients (£6.68/$10.86 worth) into 46 healthy meals.
I don’t know about you, but I think this is near magic! And a great opportunity for eat for less.
This is how we did it: we cooked three large pots of soup. Different soup.
We cooked a pot of lentil soup, a pot of tomato soup and a pot of vegetable soup. Then we put all this soup in sealable plastic container (of different size) and out it to freeze.
Here are the recipes.
This is the favourite of at least three members of the family; the other two love is as well. To make it you need:
- Red lentils: 600 grams (60 pence);
- Carrots: 4 large ones (14 pence);
- Celery: four sticks (15 pence)
- Onion: 1 (4 pence)
- Passata: 1 pack, 310 grams (29 pence)
- Chicken stock: 2 cubes (5 pence)
To make the soup, chop the onion and chop the carrots and celery in small pieces. Place them in a bit of olive oil (use a large pot or reduce the amounts) and sweat them for several minutes (sweating vegetables means that you, salt them, lower the heat and put the lid of the pot on).
Add the lentils and tomato sauce (passata); break in couple of cubes of chicken stock and add water. Watch the water – it is better to put less than is needed and then add some. There are few things that are less palatable than watery soup!
Boil until the carrots are soft. Turn the heat off and…your soup is ready. We like it smooth but chunky is very nice as well!
Note: if you like cumin you can put some in this soup – lentils go with cumin.
The total cost of this soup is £1.28/$1.86 (I’ve allowed 1 pence for gas but this may be conservative).
This makes 16 servings of soup working out at roughly 8p per serving. I’m sure you can eat for less but not convinced you can eat better.
On this one our family is divided – two of us really love it and three eat it but they’d rather have lentil soup.
To make it you need:
- Tins of chopped tomato: 4 tins (4×45 pence= £1.80)
- Tomatoes (fresh): five tomatoes (£1.09)
- Tomato puree: 1 tube (35 pence)
- Passata: 4 boxes, 310 grams each (4×29 pence = £1.16)
Put everything in a large(ish) pot; add water and boil until the fresh tomato is soft (about 20 minutes). Smooth it and the soup is ready.
Serve with fresh, chopped basil and/or a splash of balsamic vinegar.
All this costs £4.40 to make and is about twenty servings – which makes a serving about 22 pence.
Completely delicious (you can probably guess who loves this one).
It is, however, slightly acidic so people who tend to suffer from heartburn should watch how much they have and when they have it (as much as I love this soup I won’t have it in the evening).
Yes, I know that ‘vegetable soup’ is not very specific. So I toyed with the idea of calling it ‘Soup of the Summer Lost’ but you will all agree this is very pretentious.
It is vegetable soup; we picked the recipe in a Portuguese restaurant in the Algarve. You see, our agreement to eat out once every four days or so meant that the rest of the time we had easy to prepare stuff that wasn’t very liquid.
Our last restaurant visit we decided will be to a Portuguese place. Our son, ordered soup as a starter and the pleasure that spread over his face after the first spoonful was such that I asked the waiter what is in it.
It was made of potato, carrots and something that nobody knew the English name for so we had to check in a book. It turn out to be celery. Another delicious opportunity to eat for less.
What you need for this soup (let’s say we’ll call it Vegetable Soup from Portugal) is:
- 4 large potatoes (45 pence)
- 7-8 carrots (25 pence) [we used all carrots left in the packet from cooking the lentil soup]
- 5-6 celery sticks (24 pence) [we used all celery sticks left after the ones used for the lentil soup]
- 1 onion (4 pence)
To make this soup, you start by frying the onion, than add the rest of the chopped vegetables. Sweat the vegetables for five minutes. Add water (again, careful with the water) and boil until the vegetables are soft. Season to taste (you know, this is about adding salt and pepper and stuff) and smooth with a hand blander.
These ingredients make approximately 10 portions of soup (£1) or it works out at approximately 10 pence a portion.
To some, this may look rather sad: we spent probably three-four hours last weekend cooking soup.
Then again, we have a freezer full of healthy meals which we could defrost for lunch or, during the week, dinner. Our son eats vegetables which he otherwise shines as if they were spawned from the Devil himself. And I can take home-made soup to the office for my lunch.
And these are 46 healthy meals for a bit over a fiver. Go eat for less!
Not so sad after all!
We didn’t spend the whole weekend cooking; we walked along the river with Suzy the Dog, read, I did some work and watched a movie.