Some events in life seem to take forever. Like the prepping for days and days for a special dinner that’s all over in half an hour. Or like the making of a movie where the scenes take weeks to film but then only last for a few minutes on screen.

It’s not like there’s anything wrong with fully investing yourself into an event and giving it all you’ve got… even if it will be over quickly. But there are some things most of us prefer, start to finish, to be super efficient. Like the making of soup.

Soup and beans, beans and soup. I mention them so often in my book ‘The Art of Stretching Your Dollar Part Two: Spending Less on Groceries’ that you’d think I have a soup fetish or something. If I happen to develop a fetish, I sure hope it’s a bit more exciting than soup. Not that soup can’t be exciting. Except cold soup. I will never understand cold soup.

Every soup I make is different. I could probably write a book called ‘Fifty Shades of Soup’.

But I know, I have it easy. I don’t have little kiddies running around or teenagers to pick up from soccer practice, so it’s easy for me to give advice on how to use your limited time.

But as my blogs and books are all about getting more for your money, I simply have to tell you the truth, because I know you can handle it. And if we break it down, it may be more efficient than you think.

First, let’s assume you’ve bought the bags of dried beans on your regular shopping trip – e.g. an assortment of split peas, beans, lentils, even chick peas. Usually the bigger the bag, the better the price per quantity. E.g. for $20, I get a massive quantity of beans, especially from the import aisle, that lasts for months. Each time I make a big pot of soup, I spend less than $2 on the two or three cups of beans that form the heart and soul of the meal.

So to keep track of time let’s break it down:

  • Opening the bags and pouring e.g. half a cup each from six bags takes about one minute.
  • Filling the pot with 12 cups of water takes about two minutes.
  • Tending to the covering, boiling and simmering of the beans and water over the course of an hour takes about two minutes.
  • Being adventurous and adding whatever the heck you want like frozen fruit, goat’s milk powder, potatoes, rice, quinoa, etc., doesn’t take long, just a few minutes.
  • The chopping of veggies to go in, or the pouring of pre-frozen veggies can take about ten minutes depending on the variety, but that can be as simple or as complicated as you like.
  • The occasional checking up and stirring post-veggie-pour-in takes about five minutes total over the course of half an hour.
  • The adding of spices close to the end takes about one minute.

Our total time is about 25 minutes of active work. Of course the amount of soup you make depends on how much of everything you put in (and the size of the pot), but you can get a solid eight to twelve servings from these efforts, so two to three meals for a family of four. With yummy buns on the side of course.

It’s a super cheap meal that’s very healthy and quite efficient. Okay, there’s a bit more to clean up than the take-out containers or prepared meals from the frozen aisle, but you are good to go for a few nights’ worth of meals and you can of course freeze what you don’t want to eat within the week.

If you get bored eating the same thing each night, you can vary it by first cooking it thicker with less water, making it more like refried beans that you can make quesadillas, a variation on Sloppy Joes, or nachos with (with lots of cheese!) and then by adding water you can make it more soupy for variety on another night.

When thinking of savings we can approximate a $4 cost for eight servings or $.50 per serving, and compared with $2 per serving of a different meal, we can spend $52 a year if we have soup twice a week vs. $208 for a more costly meal. For a family of four, the savings in a year could be over $600 for having souper healthy soup twice a week. (Of course if you add meat, the cost will increase dramatically.)

Think you can handle the soup? I think you can, and you don’t even need to open up any cans, or develop any fetishes…especially not for cold soup.

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