Sunday, 25 September 2011

Cutting the Grocery Budget with Frugal Food

Spicy Courgette Soup - a Frugal Recipe at 4p per portion.

Every year, I set myself a target budget for grocery shopping. I've done this for so long that it has become more of a game - some might even call it a standing joke.

For the past few years, I have set my challenge at £1 per person, per day. And I have stuck to it!

The truth of the matter is, with finances being stretched to the limit, food waste is something that we cannot afford, nor should we tolerate it!

Elsewhere on this planet, there are people starving to death while many of us here, in this wonderful, 'developed' part of the world, take up ridiculous, faddy diets in an attempt to shift surplus fat. Sadly, at the same time, many also buy so much food that a percentage of it inevitably ends in the bin. Weird!

Frugaldom cannot afford the luxury of binning food, although it can honestly be said that I could afford to shed surplus fat! (But that's a whole other challenge.) In exchange for our happy-go-lucky lifestyle of simple living, splitting time between building up a home, earning a meagre living and developing a productive garden, we have given up on big luxuries like dining out, holidays, new cars and designer wear. All savings made, for now, are being ploughed into the house.

Without further ado, here is how I am currently coping with the glut of courgettes that are being harvested from the garden. I have only two plants, but I have lost count of the number of courgettes I have picked from each - certainly many more than I would ever have afforded to buy as part of the regular grocery shopping.

If you have read any of my posts about cooking chicken, you'll know that I can get at least three main meals from one (shop bought) bird and I always make stock from whatever is left. This time, with only two of us here, I have enough chicken for 4 main meals, the cat got fed and the stock got made. So what's next?



3 litres chicken stock (homemade)
1 large onion, chopped (homegrown)
Approx 500g chopped carrots (homegrown)
5 large courgettes, chopped (homegrown)
Coriander (None growing, I had to use ground variety from the spice rack)
Teaspoon salt
Teaspoon ground pepper
Teaspoon turmeric

I had been boiling rice for having with our chicken curry and like to add some turmeric or a touch of curry powder along with salt, to give the rice that lovely yellow colour and a bit of added flavour. Worrying that the soup may end up looking a weird colour once the courgettes had all cooked down, I reckoned the turmeric could also add a bit of colour and a bit of a kick, into the bargain. Next year, with luck, my new crocuses will provide us with saffron for such uses - frugal gourmet needn't cost the earth, it simply needs the earth in order for us to grow such fine delicacies.

The soup was simmered in the slow cooker for several hours then left overnight to cool. I then blended it (using a stick blender I bought several years ago for under £5) before splitting it into lunchtime sized portions.

I got 10 adult portions from the above, but can't really cost it up exactly when the sums are so small. All the veg came from the garden, the stock was a by-product of the chicken, which cost me £4.99 locally, and the herbs & spices are all things I have on my shelf. The electricity used was minimal, having opted to use my 300w slow cooker. At a guess, I would say the electricity used would amount to a maximum of 3 kWh, including making the stock. On our current electricity rates, this would work out at just under 37p

Looking good for around 4p per portion. Even if you had to buy stock cubes and vegetables, soup remains one of the cheapest meals to make if you are prepared to mix and match with your ingredients.

This started out as a bowlful, except H had already eaten half of it with a slice of homemade bread by the time I remembered I was meant to be photographing it for this blog post. He was slightly amused when asked to set down his spoon and step away from the soup while I pointed a camera at it!

This courgette soup is nourishing, very warming on a chilly day, handy for serving in a mug as a tasty snack and, most of all, you get a lovely hot kick from it, depending on how much of the spices you use.

Try it for yourself, adapt the recipe to suit your own tastebuds, thicken it with lentils if you prefer, and make the most of what you've got in stock. This is a seasonal soup and it freezes well. Frugadom highly recommends it and will be making another batch next week, as there are another 4 courgettes almost ready plus a couple of patty pan squash, which will also get added.




    Will be adapting your recipe with what's left in the fridge.

    I'm off to explore!

    Sft x

  2. Didn't grow courgettes as it was my first year on the plot, next year I will definitely grow a few plants to make some hearty cheap but ever so tasty soups. The lady on the next plot gave me two massive lettuces so I did make lettuce soup for the first time. You are right there is something so smugly satisfying about using everything up and not being wasteful.

  3. We often get free bread and vegetables from the supermarket. It takes me ages to remove all the cellophane. We usually feed our animals on our smallholding. One day I decided to cook some of the FREE vegetables. They tasted horrible!

    Thanks Frugaldom for the coal prices. Fossil fuels are not cheap anywhere!

  4. Put me in charge of the Big Brother household and I'll show you a show that might be worth watching. LOL Off to pitch my idea AGAIN... one of these days it'll happen.

  5. £1 a day per person sounds like an awesome challenge - need to get my food outgoings lower as October to the rest of the year is to be very tight for me although it might take more practice to get as low outgoings on food as that! well done, I am very impressed.

  6. It's amazing what £1 per day per person can get you if you are prepared to look at it as an overall budget for the year. By taking advantage of offers and making meals with what is available, it soon creates an interesting mealtime experience. I have no qualms about bulk buying past 'best before' dates, so there are always plenty of pulses, rice, pasta and the ever-decreasing-in-popularity... cous cous! Personally, I love the stuff! why spend half an hour wasting electricity to boil potatoes when some boiling water works wonders in minutes.

    Apart from that, there's nothing wrong with soup and pudding lunches for most of the winter and homegrown salad sandwiches on fresh home-baked bread for most of the summer. :)


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