Confession: I’m not exactly the most frugal person in the world. This comes as no surprise to my husband who has to pay half the grocery bill each month. I’m not good at looking at sales flyers before meal planning, nor do I have the patience for couponing. I’ve tried. Several times. It just doesn’t work well for me. I’m planning to try again, but seriously…it starts annoying me.
Another way I don’t exactly stretch my grocery buck is by “wasting” food. When I’m at the store, I always try to plan my side dishes along with the main dishes I’m going to serve. One of my personal favorite side dishes is roasted asparagus or green beans, so I typically pick one of those two up when I go to the store. One week later, I’m pitching them in the trash because I either forgot I had bought them or I didn’t have time to make them along with the main dish I was cooking. You’d think it’d be simple to make roasted veg (and it is), but when you’ve got a toddler running around your feet, it’s a little harder than I’d like, plus I get home with about 15 minutes to spare to get dinner on the table most nights. It’s a work in progress.
All that brings me to: pot roast. Wait. What? How do those two things go together? Well, I’ll tell you.
When I was at the grocery store the other day, I happened to notice a beef roast marked half price in the “clearance” section of our meat department. It still had a couple days to go before it expired, so I snatched it up with visions of succulent, juicy pot roast in my head. Yesterday before work I set about cooking it.
Using PW’s Pot Roast as a guide, I browned my veg, then my meat, added some wine and broth, and baked it on 275º for 3 hours while I went to the gym and did other errands. It was excellent!
After it was finished cooking, however, I was left with cups and cups of this wonderful liquid. Typical Bethany would just pour it down the drain, but trying-to-be-more-frugal Bethany tried to figure out what else I could do with it. The first thing that came to mind was gravy, but I’m not the best gravy maker in the world. Then it hit me: French onion soup. Done.
I did a quick Google search and was led to this recipe, which I used as a guide. I added some things, omitted some, and used the best tool at my disposal: my tongue. This is what I came up with:
French Onion Soup
(Adapted loosely from this recipe)
2 onions, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
8 cups beef broth
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
In a large stock pot, melt your butter in the olive oil over medium low, then saute your onions until caramelized, stirring occasionally. Once the onions are translucent, add your salt and sugar, then continue to cook until they turn golden brown. This process takes approximately half an hour if you do it slowly. If you are in a hurry you can turn your heat up a bit, but you’ll need to babysit the pot a little more.
Once your onions are caramelized, add your beef broth. I got my stock from the pot roast I’d made earlier, so it was a little more concentrated than I’d have liked, so I ended up adding some water to the pot. Also, since I got my stock from the roast, I had flavored it with rosemary and thyme earlier. If you are using the boxed variety of broth, you may want to take the liberty to doctor it up with some herbs at this point.
Also add in your Worchestershire and vinegar. These ingredients add to the depth of flavor to your soup. You may need to add a little more salt at this point. Otherwise, your soup is finished. You can eat it like this:
Oooooor like this:
I know which way I prefer! (I broiled a piece of wheat bread with a little cheese on top. I would have preferred a typical Swiss or Gruyere cheese, but all I had was Monterey Jack. It was still quite tasty.)
What’s your best tip to stretch a buck or a recipe?