I spend $200 or less per month to feed two adults in mega expensive New York City. If you simply make real food from scratch, and eliminate eating out for convenience sake, I guarantee you will slash your budget. Freezer meals are a huge help in this department, they ensure that you won’t fold and order expensive takeout when you don’t feel up to cooking.
If someone asked me, “if you could only give one piece of advice on slashing my grocery budget, what would it be?” I would say avoid any and all convenience foods. These include premade sauces, bars (energy, granola, diet), canned soups, cereal, frozen dinners, spice packets, etc. Basically if it wasn’t in the supermarket 65 years ago, I don’t buy it. They didn’t need it then, and we don’t need it now.
I can already hear the cries of, “But I work! I’m busy! I’m tired! I hate cooking!” And I totally understand. Not everyone loves to cook, and even though I do, there are still nights when I don’t feel like making a huge production out of dinner.
If I have nothing in the freezer, ordering a pizza (about $20 for four servings) is tempting. But it’s also relatively expensive and unhealthy. This is precisely why I like to stock my freezer with easy to heat homemade meals. I have found the best way to do this is to take one whole day and cook a bunch of different freezer meals at once. Then portion, label, and freeze them all at the same time. I make large enough recipes that my freezer stock lasts at least three months, which means only four big days of cooking a year, and no more reliance on overpriced and unhealthy convenience foods- it’s definitely worth it. If you have a larger family, just double or triple the recipe.
This recipe makes 12 large entree sized servings, and it freezes perfectly. I recommend freezing this in gallon sized freezer bags, in the amount that you would serve in one sitting. Since there’s just the two of us, I save two servings in each bag. Then if we need a quick dinner, I just pull out a bag, plop it in a pot and heat it up. Suddenly we have lovely homemade soup filled with four kinds of peppers, tomatoes, herbs, turkey, and spinach! Campbell’s can’t even come close to this flavor, health, or price.
3 lbs. lean ground turkey ($7.99)
1 large tomato ($0.89)
5 cloves garlic, minced ($0.15)
2 jalapenos, minced ($0.30)
1 red bell pepper, chopped ($1.79)
1 green bell pepper, chopped ($1.99)
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped ($1.99)
4 cups frozen chopped spinach ($1.00)
2 cups frozen cut corn ($0.70)
28 oz. crushed tomatoes ($0.99)
2 cans 28 oz. plain tomato sauce ($2.00)
2 tbsp. olive oil ($0.10)
1/2 tbsp. onion powder ($0.05)
2 tbsp. paprika ($0.10)
2 tbsp. chili powder ($0.20)
1/2 tbsp. cumin ($0.05)
1 tsp. brown sugar ($0.03)
Note: I don’t actually have a pot large enough to make this recipe. So I start it in one large pot, after I add and cook the turkey, I divide the mixture between two large pots and continue the recipe, divvying up the ingredients evenly.
Step by Step
1. In large pot, combine 1 large chopped tomato, 2 minced jalapenos, 5 cloves minced garlic, olive oil, and onion powder. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring intermittently.
2. Add in crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of water. turn heat low. While soup is simmering, chop the yellow, red, and green bell peppers.
3. Add peppers in to the soup, along with 1 tbsp. chili powder. Combine well and let pot continue to heat uncovered over medium low for 10 minutes.
4. Add in ground turkey. Slowly break turkey apart with a wooden spoon. Break up all the chunks and stir until turkey is spread evenly throughout the stock. Once turkey is well mixed into stock, add in both cans of tomato sauce and mix a bit more. Now add in cumin, and paprika. Turn heat up to medium and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
(now is a good time to divide your soup between two large pots if you need to, continue the recipe by divvying ingredients between the two pots.)
5. Add in spinach, corn, and brown sugar. Mix thoroughly and let simmer over medium, covered, for 10 minutes. Now remove lid(s), and simmer uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.
Let soup cool before bagging.