I’m going to write this as if you’re all with me…you’re all on my side…you’re all feeling the same crunch I am.
The financial crunch that comes after the holidays when the bills start pouring in. The physical crunch that comes after the holidays when you’ve eaten too many cookies and had that extra glass of wine (25 days in a row).
You’re with me, right??
I’m actually a pretty frugal girl, and do very well at sticking to my budget for Christmas gifts. But the fact remains, in a normal month, I don’t buy 36 people gifts. So no matter how much I plan ahead, it’s still a hit to our bottom line.
Add to that, I LOVE to decorate! Lights on the Christmas tree, lights decorating the porch and bushes, lit garlands over the mantel and down the stairs… all of that adds up to a higher than normal electric bill.
It’s pretty much inevitable, and I’m okay with the reasons… but, I still feel the need to save money where I can once January arrives.
One of the easiest ways to put that into action, is to start using my slow cooker more! Plus it has the added benefit of making my husband groan when he walks in the door after a long day of work! The smells a slow cooker put off cannot even compare to cooking something on the stovetop!
Slow cookers use less energy than a conventional oven or stovetop, and then you aren’t using lots of pots and pans either. Especially if you lose a slow cooker liner, clean-up is a snap, which leaves more time for family game night! Yippee!!
A family favorite of ours is Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Basil and Parmesan. It’s so CHEAP to make, HEALTHY and FREEZES beautifully!! That’s like the trifecta of winning recipes in my book!
Here’s the secret to making this a REALLY low cost meal- I start with a giant, 6 lb. can of diced tomatoes. You can buy the smaller cans that I know most of you are used to, but it doesn’t make much financial sense. You’ll spend about $1.50+ for the small cans or $4 for this huge one!
You could also use fresh tomatoes, but you’ll spend A LOT more money and time, for something that you’re just cooking down into mush anyways.
I can get about 6 meals out of this recipe for my family of 4 and it costs me less than $7!!
- 1 (6 lb. 6 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
- 6-8 carrots, sliced
- 2-3 large yellow onions, chopped
- 4 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoon dried basil
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cans tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cup milk
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup parmesan cheese (I have also used cheddar or mozzarella if that's all we have on-hand!)
- Croutons for garnish if desired
- Add first eleven ingredients, tomatoes through black pepper, to the bowls of 2 slow cookers. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until vegetables are softened.
- Transfer to a blender or food processor in batches and blend until smooth. After it is blended return to slow cooker to keep warm.
- In small bowl, whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add half to each slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and heat for an additional 30 minutes to thicken the soup. Add cheese and croutons and serve!
I’m all about the slow cooker recipes, trying to eat healthier and saving money on our electric bill!