Over the past 6 months or so I have been experimenting with simpler evening winter meals and have come to thoroughly enjoy them on so many levels- ease, creative, exciting, fun, simple, healthy, seasonal, and economical.
There is one in particular that our family never tires of, and that is…white bean soup. This one hails from the cucina povera era of Italy and I have to say is one of my (and my families) favorite meals. Do click on the link to check out the recipe, as I wont’ go into that here…but I do want to address the budget side.
Imagine making an Italian meal for a family of 4-6 that is not only nurturing and simple, but cost-effective. This is a winner in all three categories. I did a little calculating and found the following for an organic meal that consists of white bean soup with kale and pancetta, and a loaf of bread:
- To buy all the ingredients at the store will run you about $16
- To harvest from your garden and buy the oil, pancetta, and beans from the store will run you about $7
Besides the low cost, this meal is so simple to put together:
- Beans soak all day while you are at work
- Drain beans, place in pot, cover with water, and place in aromatics, 5 min.
- Remove aromatics, and place ¾ beans in blender and blend, 5 min.
- Add back to pot, adjust water as is needed, and correct for salt, 5 min.
- Wash, tear kale, & warm up kale in olive oil & little salt, 15 min.
- Warm up oil, sage leaves, and pancetta in the used kale pan, 10 min.
- Place beans in warmed bowl, drizzle with oil mixture and serve, 2 min.
- And the two longest steps above, can be done simultaneously!!!
The total prep time is about 30 minutes!!!
The total cooking time is about 90 minutes or so, as the beans do need to be cooked for about 60-90 minutes. But during this time you can set the table, prep the other ingredients, spend time with your kids, or enjoy a glass of wine and music!
Not bad, huh? I understand that to spend $7 or less on this meal would require you to have your own herbs and kale growing, and onions stored up from the the summer, and that there is hidden costs there; however, think of all the joy it would be to be able to cook most of a meal from what you grew! And multiply all those savings each time you cook this meal- the savings will soon surpass you spending a little on some seeds and dirt…especially considering that a package of herbs costs about $2.3o at the store.
Would love to hear some feedback on this:).