Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tough Economy is the Mother of Innovation


.....The economy is the great determiner for how we spend our money and the one thing we can't avoid is spending money for food. There are many ways to save on food expenses but we have to be sure when we're saving money we are not scrimping on satisfying our taste buds.

......How about a Steak Dinner That Costs $1.66

Noodle Soup that costs $0.71 cents a Bowl

An interesting Cabbage Idea... Good for those on a gluten free diet!

A way to buy meat cheap ... and a recipe for beef brisket $2.25/plate

...........(see the links in the upper right part of the screen)

........The best way to satisfy our hungry family members is to be sure we are putting together penny saver meals that can be fun, bring comfort, make memories and give us that full feeling we all like to enjoy. The key factor in this is the taste. My family enjoys having a good meal that they can eat over and over again with out feeling as if it's the same old thing again.

......Now that's the hard part, how can we create good meals save some money and make the family happy. The answer is in what they like and how well we can make the experience an adventure... Ok maybe not an adventure but one they will enjoy because it has some good memories attached to it.


.......In the following posts, I will share those meals that have been favorites of my family and hopefully will become favorites for yours. More importantly the meals are of the type that don't cost a lot, and don't need to be looked up on the who's who of cuisine cooking. I'm talking about down to earth, home made, comfort foods that can save a buck and make some smiles.



Try this one to start with:

Potato Soup

........One of my family’s favorites is none other than the ever-popular potato soup. This inexpensive meal is easy to cook, can yield a large quantity for easy snacking later and has known to be one of the most talked about dishes on the family menu.

.......I have six children. Over the years, there have been a good amount of friends who have come by the house to hang out and spend time with the family. Naturally, there has been occasion for them to share in one of my cooking episodes that usually take place on the weekend or late at night.

.......One houseguest in particular stayed extra late just for the pleasure of sharing in a delicious bowl of potato soup. Everyone else had gone to sleep for the night and I was busy cooking my soup. I didn't mind the company and found out he had stayed late to take part in enjoying some of it. After all, I had been cooking up some scrumptious smells the whole time.

.......When it was finished, we sat and almost ate the whole pot ourselves. Something unique happened during the cooking process that night that has not since been duplicated. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the butter or the fact that I used the right amount of cilantro (Spanish parsley), whatever it was, we both sat and devoured one bowl after another with out feeling we were full. We just had to have some more.

.......Some time later, he moved on to go to school in Texas and we thought he would come by occasionally to visit but we didn't expect to hear from him very much.

.......Imagine my surprise when I received a call from him asking for the recipe. What a compliment that was. I was eager to share the recipe with him as quickly as I was just the other day when one of my sons (who moved away to college in Virginia) called asking for the same recipe for one of his meals he said he just had to have.

……The recipe I use is for a large pot of this delicious soup, enough for a family of eight with leftovers. You might want to cut the portions in half to suit your family size.

So here it is:

Potato Soup

5lbs peeled potatoes (cut into eights)

4 large onions (diced)

4 celery stalks

10 cubes of chicken bullion

2 sticks of butter

1 pint of heavy cream (optional)

1 gal of milk (you are not going to use all of it)

1 tablespoon of basil

1 tablespoon of dill

1 teaspoon of cilantro

The instructions are simple.

Don’t you like it when people tell you that, “Oh, it’s easy!”

Well I’ll try to explain it as clearly as possible.

…….One thing I like to do when I cook is to get all the ingredients portioned out and ready to work with. I clean the work surface I’m going to use and line everything up waiting for me to use.

……..Prepare the potatoes by peeling and cutting them, prepare the onions and celery at this time. Cook all these in the pot by having the water level at two inches above them.

……..Crush up the bullion cubes so they can easily dissolve when you add them to the soup. The best way to do this is to dissolve the crushed bullion in a cup of hot water. One trick to do is to scoop out the hot water from the pot before you drain it off.

……...Cook the potatoes until they are soft enough to your liking and drain off about half of the water. Use a strainer in the sink so you can catch any vegetables that may fall out. Put the pot back on the stove and add the bullion cubes. After adding the bullion, add the butter and allow it to melt into the mix.

……...Next thing to do is to add the milk, by bringing the level up to where it was before you drained the water off. If you opted for using the heavy cream, add it at this time. When the soup gets hot again, add the basil, dill and cilantro. Stir the mixture up to get the spices mixed in and you are ready to go.

Grab a bowl and enjoy.

………Some variations of this are a matter of using your imagination. Be creative and make a pot with some carrots added or cube some chunks of ham and add it to the recipe. Be careful about adding too many veggies since your making potato soup not vegetable soup.

………This recipe is your basic potato soup. I would encourage you to taste the soup periodically while cooking to see if you might prefer a little more salt or pepper or some other spice.

………An interesting observation: you might find the soup will taste better the next day. My family has said this many times. There is something about the whole mix sitting in the refrigerator for a while that increases the flavor.

………..I hope you enjoy it and I think you will find this to be an inexpensive meal that can become a family favorite. Serve with salad or some other side. The leftovers are good for making a soup and sandwich lunch the next day.

……….What kind of inexpensive meals (quick and easy) have you enjoyed that others might enjoy eating while saving some money?

Leave a comment or If you prefer you can email me at

Tell me your idea for a meal you created. Let's help each other with money saving meals.

(You might be interested in one of the Videos at the bottom of the page.)


  1. I went by the grocery store this evening. This time I took a copy of the recipes with me. When I got home, I put my groceries away and started to work.
    I peeled my last 2 potatoes, cut up a bit of onion, added about 1 1/2 cloves of garlic, cut up some celery (I like to use the leafy part as it seems to add a better flavor to me than just the stalks) and added water. Cooked it. My cubes were a bit old so I used chicken granules instead. Didn't find fresh basil, dill, or cilantro. So, I bought the McCormick spices instead.
    Well, let me tell you ...................... the potato soup turned out well. I added a bit of Spike (seasoning salt), Everglades seasoning, and pepper. I'm thinking of adding some ham seasoning bits to it as well. Just sounds sssooooooooooo good.
    I didn't get to eat until about 10 PM but it was worth the wait.
    Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Martha,
    I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe. I'm also glad you put some of your own ideas in to it!
    I'm going to try your ingredients next time I cook.
    That's the best part of cooking these inexpensive meals...make them your own. And Enjoy!

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