Cheeseburger Soup – for $1 per person {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 10}

31 Days 300

It’s a real food recipe that most everyone will love.  It’s full of nourishing goodness.  After all, there’s chicken broth and carrots in it, not to mention delicious beef, cheese, milk, and sour cream.  It’s a full meal all on its own.  Just like all of the recipes I share, this one won’t appear to anyone as “health food.”  It’s simply delicious food.  Comfort food.  And yep, it just so happens to be healthy.

I found that this recipe yielded six hearty servings.  I did the math on it, and can declare it to be a Dollar Menu Dish.  Technically, it cost me just over a dollar per person to feed this to my family.  I decided, eh, it counts.  :)  So what does it mean that this meal costs about a dollar per person?  It means that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive!  I love it that there are so many economical ways to feed a family well.

If you don’t mind adding a little extra expense to this soup, and you really want to make it appealing to those among you who just might be afraid of anything healthy – try adding 1/4 – 1/2 pound of chopped, cooked bacon.  Then it becomes Bacon Cheeseburger Soup, and who wouldn’t want to eat that?  By the way: Bacon is real food.  Hallelujah!

Cheeseburger Soup

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups milk
5 cups potatoes cut into chunks
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large pot, brown hamburger meat with onions, carrots, basil, and parsley.  Once thoroughly cooked, add chicken broth and potatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium while potatoes cook, about ten minutes.  Once the potatoes are tender, add milk, stirring and cooking until bubbly – about two minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add cheese and sour cream, stirring until melted.  Serve.

Cheeseburger Soup

Looking for more meal ideas that use healthy, real food ingredients and cost less than one dollar per plate?  Here’s what I’ve shared so far:

Have you found ways to keep real food eating within a reasonable budget for your family?

Easy and Delicious – Black Bean Salsa

You’ve likely seen this recipe on my site before, but I wanted to highlight it as a delicious meal that costs less than a dollar per plate!

Black Bean Salsa is easy to make and has only five healthy ingredients.  It tastes so fresh, and the cilantro makes it so flavorful.  I serve it with Organic Corn Chips.  The total cost for the salsa and the chips costs less than $6 and will feed my entire family.  This is also a great, inexpensive snack to share with guests at a party.

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You’ll find the recipe here.

Looking for more meal ideas that use healthy, real food ingredients and cost less than one dollar per plate?  Here’s what I’ve shared so far:

 

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola Recipe {Real Food Dollar Menu}

Ever paid over $6 for a tiny box of cereal, and then witnessed that the contents in the tiny box only fed three people one small serving?  As delicious and convenient as the Cascadian Farm Dark Chocolate Almond Granola was - that is one pricey breakfast.

I actually got a box of this cereal with some Vitacost credit I had – just to try it.  It was a huge hit in our family.  That’s what made me decide that surely I could figure out a similar recipe and make my own.  Besides, I like the idea of eating chocolate for breakfast.  What a way to start the day.  :)

The result of my experimenting turned out delicious!  I did a little rough math to determine how much money I saved.  These aren’t the cheapest of ingredients, but they are hearty and can stick to the ribs.  I found that I cut the cost from over $2 per serving to around 75¢ per serving – even using mostly organic ingredients.

What I love best is that this is a recipe that can be made ahead of time for a quick meal or snack.  (It’s a perfect recipe to work into your Getting Ahead in the Kitchen routine.)

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Dark Chocolate Almond Granola

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil and honey together.  Stir oats, shredded coconut, and slivered almonds together in a large bowl.  Drizzle on the honey/coconut oil mixture and stir well.  Pour mixture onto a large, parchment paper-lined baking sheet (or two 9×13 inch dishes).  Bake at 300° for 35-45 minutes, stirring after the first 20 minutes.  Allow mixture to cool.  Stir in dark chocolate chunks.  Store granola in an air-tight container.  Makes 12-14 servings.

You may have noticed that this recipe is in the Healthy Breakfast Made Simple eBook.  Haven’t downloaded that yet?  Get it here for free!

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Just a couple of days left in our Getting Ahead for Breakfast ChallengeHow’s it going for you?  Have you made some breakfast foods ahead to save you the effort in the morning?

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Homemade Grape Nuts Cereal

A huge thank you to Michelle for telling me about this recipe idea!!

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First of all, I have to ask – because I know you’re all dying to know the answer to this as well:  Why is this cereal called “Grape Nuts” when there are neither grapes nor nuts included in the list of ingredients?  Haven’t you always wondered about that?  Who named this cereal?  And why, if they were going to call it something random like this, did they not call it “Pickle Sprouts” or Olive Berries?”  How about “Banana Seeds?”  I mean, if we’re going for titles that don’t make sense…

Yeah, don’t waste much time pondering that paragraph.

At the Colorado Springs Meet & Greet, we talked about everything from kids and media time to cereal.  When Michelle told us she made a cereal like this, we all got super excited!

Homemade Grape Nuts

Looks like the real deal, huh? This cereal is pretty tasty with berries!

Homemade Grape Nuts is super easy to make, and I personally think it tastes better than the boxed stuff.  Can you guess my kids’ first question when I introduced them to this at breakfast?   “Looks good, but why is it called Grape Nuts?”  I don’t know, Son.  I don’t know.

Homemade Grape Nuts Cereal

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
1 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
2 cups buttermilk (or milk mixed with 2 Tablespoons vinegar)
2/3 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients together, beating well until smooth.  Spread mixture onto a parchment paper lined (or well buttered) cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes in a 375° oven. Remove cereal from the oven, and cool completely.  Once cool, grind in a food processor until it becomes “crumb like.”

Return crumbs to cookie sheet or a large baking pan.  Bake in a 250° oven for one hour or until crisp, stirring every 15 minutes.

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I found it easiest to bake the crumbs in a dish with sides (my 10×15 pyrex) so that I could stir more easily.

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Cool the cereal and store it in an air tight container in the pantry (for about two weeks) or freezer (for up to two months).

The geek in me decided to do the math to see if this was not only a High Five Recipe, but a Real Food Dollar Menu recipe as well.  Sure enough!  It took about $2.00 to make a batch of this cereal – using all organic ingredients.  This makes about twice as much cereal as you would find in a regular sized box of Grape Nuts.  When’s the last time you were able to buy a box of whole grain, organic cereal for a buck?

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Tell me you’ve always wondered where Grape Nuts got its name.  And by always, I obviously mean, “Yes, I’ve pondered that for a second or two once in my life.”

Breakfast Pizza {Real Food Dollar Menu}

Our boys discovered that you can use my Whole Wheat Pizza Crust to make an awesome Breakfast Pizza. They also discovered that if you work ahead in your math book, you will finish ahead of schedule. On the contrary, if you avoid doing math some days, you will have to do double the lessons on the days you’d really rather go outside and play with your brothers on the trampoline.

But back to the pizza.

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Make it just like you would a regular homemade pizza, using this crust recipe.  Top it with salsa, scrambled eggs, cheese, and any other toppings of choice - like veggies and meat.  Homemade Turkey Sausage is great on this pizza!

Bake it as directed.  Serve with fruit.

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Without adding meat, I found that it cost about $4.52 to make this meal, which filled my family of six.  That’s about 75¢ per person, for a meal that actually sticks with them for several hours!

Easy, delicious, filling, versatile, inexpensive, and healthy.  What more could you want?  (Except maybe to be finished with math lessons for the year.)

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

Chili Mac ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

I have a love-hate relationship with leftovers.

Most of the time, I really do love them.  On the days I have way too many items on my to-do list and just don’t have time to cook – it’s great to just pull out leftovers to warm up and eat.  But on the other hand, having a fridge full of little tid-bits of this and that?  It makes my fridge look cluttered, which kinda makes me feel annoyed.

This, my friends, is what we call a ”first world problem.”  Too many leftovers?  So much food in my fridge that I can’t find what I’m looking for?  So many people around the world long to have the “problems” I have.

When I have to slide all sorts of bowls and jars around in my fridge, just to find the peanut butter stuffed way in the back?  It’s a waste of a good thirty seconds of my life.

Ooh, and you know what’s really annoying?  When I make enough peas for each of us to have a nice serving.  And then the last person leaves about 13 peas in the pan.  Why?  Just take the rest of the peas, for goodness sake!  I do not want to find a little container for 13 leftover peas, and then put them into the fridge so that I can slide them all around when I’m looking for peanut butter.  Likely, they’ll become forgotten and fuzzy because really?  Who wants to take the time to re-heat 13 peas?

Oh to have the luxury of complaining about “all” the food in my refrigerator.  I truly am thankful for all of the food on my shelves - even the container of 13 forgotten peas.  I promise to always be grateful for the cluttery tid-bits.

(But really, if you are the last one to serve yourself at my house, and there are a few peas floating at the bottom of the pan, please, for the love of my sanity as I search for peanut butter, just put them on your plate and eat them already.)

And now for a real food recipe that costs a very small amount of money and uses up some of the leftovers that are taking up space in your fridge.

Chili Mac

6 cups (give or take) leftover chili
2 cups water
4 cups whole wheat or rice pasta (any shape)
Sea salt to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pot, bring chili and water to a boil.  Add uncooked pasta.  Cover and cook on medium heat until pasta is tender.  Sprinkle in salt, according to your taste.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

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Estimated cost of this meal?  About 65¢ per person.  And that includes the peas.  All of them - even the last 13.

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

If you are sick of chili, and don’t want to eat your leftovers immediately – simply spread this Chili Mac mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish, top with cheese, cover, and freeze.  Reheat another day.

I am happy to report that the day recently when I served Chili Mac, there were no leftover peas.  But just in case, maybe I should come up with a recipe that uses 13 peas…

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

Are you a fan of leftovers?  Do you sometimes find a few straggly uneaten peas in the pan? 

Easy Chicken Pot Pie {Real Food Dollar Menu}

FAQs of Easy Chicken Pot Pie…

Question:  What do you get when you mix one cup of milk, one cup of mayonnaise, and one cup of whole wheat flour?

Answer:  The most amazingly delicious crust you can imagine.

Question:  What is the easiest way to make a crust for a Chicken Pot Pie?

Answer:  You know the “one cup of milk, one cup of mayonnaise, and one cup of flour” I referred to?  Mix it up and pour it over the top of your pot pie filling, then bake.  It doesn’t get any easier.  No mess.  No rolling.  No problem.

Question:  How much does it cost to make this healthy, hearty Chicken Pot Pie?

Answer:  Would you believe me if I told you that it only costs $6.00*?  It’s true.  This recipe feeds 8-10 people.  (Eight if you’re my family.  Ten if you aren’t feeding teenage boys.)  That makes the cost of this recipe between $0.60 and $0.75 per person.  And it’s a complete, filling, healthy meal.

Question:  Is the rest of this post going to be as cheesy as what I’ve read so far?

Answer:  Ummm…no.  But I do want you to know that I’m currently working on more ideas for this milk/mayo/flour crust mixture.  I got the idea from Matt’s cousin Monica, and I’m thinking that the possibilities are definitely not limited to Chicken Pot Pie.  Can’t wait to figure out more ideas!

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Easy Chicken Pot Pie

6 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bites
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups frozen peas
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup cold water
2 Tablespoons organic corn starch, arrowroot powder, or wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower Mayonnaise)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour from hard white wheat)

In a large cooking pot, boil broth, chicken, carrots, potatoes, and peas until veggies are tender.  Mix cornstarch with water until smooth.  Stir mixture into the broth/veggies, cooking for about one minute on the stove to help the mixture thicken.  Pour contents into a 9×13 inch baking dish.

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In a separate bowl, stir together milk, mayo, and flour.  Spread mixture over the veggies in the baking dish.

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Bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

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Chicken Pot Pie

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken and broth.  And I love one-dish meals!

This is just one more recipe that proves that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive!

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

P.S.  I think this recipe would work great for creating personal sized frozen Chicken Pot Pies.  :)

Crock Pot Beef Stew ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

Here is another healthy meal that is super easy, quick to make, and low in cost.  There is really nothing fancy about this meal.  But it’s comforting and warm and perfect for a chilly evening.

Crock Pot Beef Stew with Cornbread Muffins

1 pound stew meat, cut into bit-sized chunks
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion or 2 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix
1/2 cup water
Sea salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

The cost of this meal, including the cornbread, added up to $8.29*.  It fed 9 people.  Cost per plate (um, bowl) =  $0.92.  I love this price!!!

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Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu?  Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Stay tuned for many more recipes and ideas for our Real Food Dollar Menu!

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken – Real Food Dollar Menu

It might sound kind of silly for me to say this, but I’ve typically thought that making a meal of Barbecue Chicken Breasts is a bit of a “splurge” for us.  Why?  Because hardly ever do I just cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts as our “main dish” without spreading them out within a casserole to make them “stretch”.

Even so, this meal costs just a tiny bit more than one dollar per plate.  Sweet!  I’m so glad to know the price breakdown on this, because we love it.  Plus, this meal is super fast and easy to prepare.  I’m talking five minutes tops.  I can quickly throw chicken breasts and homemade barbecue sauce into the crockpot on a Sunday morning before church, or right after lunch on a weekday – and a few hours later, our main dish is ready!  Add a veggie or two, and maybe some bread, and your meal is complete.

We used (free) green beans from our garden for this meal, but to be fair to those who don’t have garden beans in their freezer, I included the price of purchased, frozen beans as I calculated the cost of this meal.  Altogether with the chicken, sauce, beans, and muffins, this meal ends up being $1.09/plate.  (I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.)

In case you’re wondering – I use Smart Chicken Brand boneless skinless chicken breasts in recipes like this.  That is the best I can find around here – and I wait for them to go on sale.  (My friend recently got me a case at a great price from her local store.  Smart Chicken breast for just $2.71/pound…so exciting!)

Crock Pot Barbecue Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 recipe of Homemade Barbecue Sauce (about 1/2 cup)

Cut chicken breasts into portion sized pieces.  Place in a crock pot, top with barbecue sauce, and cook on low for about four hours or until meat is no longer pink.

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Do you often use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a main dish…or do you typically try to “stretch” them into more meals?

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

Pasta Alfredo ~ Real Food Dollar Menu

One of my family’s favorite meals is Pasta Alfredo.  It is easy to make, and tastes even better than when you order alfredo at a restaurant!  And of course, when you’re making this at home, you can use real food ingredients, making this dish super healthy.  :)

Isn’t it nice to know that while you’ll pay around $8.00 per plate for a nice meal of Pasta Alfredo at a restaurant – when you make it homemade, it will cost you (drum roll please)…

…$0.99 per plate.  Seriously.  And that’s including whole wheat pasta and steamed veggies.  Yes indeed!

(My calculations* told me that our steamed veggies cost us $1.65 and the pasta with alfredo sauce broke down to about $5.30.  This meal fed seven people.)

pasta alfredo

You’ll find my Pasta Alfredo recipe here.  Feel free to add leftover cooked chicken to this if you have some!

*I calculated my cost based on the food sources and prices I have available to me. Most of the ingredients I use are organic. Your cost may be slightly more or less depending on where you find your ingredients.

Looking for more meals on our Real Food Dollar Menu? Here are the recipes I’ve shared so far:

How much do you love Alfredo Sauce?  My boys, who have birthdays “coming up”, are already telling me that they will be requesting this for their birthday dinner.  (It’s never too early to plan for your birthday which is three months away, you know…)