There is no words that can describe the feeling you get, when you are put into a position where you feel like you've failed your children. Especially when you've never been there before. Sure we've had some times where our budget was tight, which meant we couldn't get coffee from our favourite coffee shop that week, or we couldn't go out to dinner that month. But we have never been in this situation before; where our budget has been so tight, that I truly worried about being able to feed my children healthy and wholesome meals. While talking to friends about our current situation, I came to realize that for many this is an everyday, constant struggle. These people do not have the luxury of saying "next pay day, we'll be OK", because when pay day comes around and they take care of their responsibilities, they are back in the same situation they previously were. If our moment of bad luck can help someone who is unfortunate enough to be dealing with this every day, then it makes our struggle a bit less painful. Thank you to my friend Karen, for encouraging me to post about this!
When I have a limited budget to deal with, I try to get the most bang for my buck. Items such as potatoes, carrots and dry beans are very affordable, versatile and are packed with great nutrition. One bag of dried beans can be used for at least 3 meals and costs under $2. Which makes them staples in our house, no matter what our financial situation is. Two of these items, helped transform some of my left over ham, into a fabulous bean soup. I saved the drippings from the ham, the first night, after I had roasted it in the oven. I used these drippings, paired with beef bouillon (feel free to use chicken, all we had was beef), as the liquid in my soup. Onion and carrot was my flavour base, for the tender beans and ham. I let this cook in my crock pot all day, which lead to a wonderfully amazing soup.
By using the drippings and beef bouillon as the liquid base, I only had to use a bit of milk to make this a creamy soup; because I don't know about you guys, but milk is VERY expensive here in Canada ($5.49 for 4 litres). By using a slotted spoon to scoop up some of the cooked beans, and mashing them; it also added a wonderful creamy texture and thickened the soup slightly. Everyone loved the soup and I even had leftovers for lunch the next two days. That's what I love about beans, they taste great anyway you prepare them and you can eat a few meals from one cooked batch.
Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C carrots, chopped
2 C dried navy beans (white beans)
1 C roast ham drippings (optional)
1 low sodium beef/chicken bouillon cube
4 C water
2 C cooked ham, chopped
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 C milk
Bring the 4 C of water to a boil, in a large pot. Pour in beans and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes and set aside.
Place onion, garlic, carrots and ham in a 4 qt crock pot. Pour in beans, along with the water in which you boiled them. In a large bowl, whisk together the ham drippings and chicken bouillon cube. Pour over ingredients in the crock pot. Place in bay leaf and season all with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 6-8hrs; until beans and carrots are tender.
Once beans are tender, using a slotted spoon, remove some of the beans from the crock pot and mash. Return to crock pot and add the milk. Fish out the bay leaf and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the milk is heated through.
This post is linked to these AWESOME linky parties
Wonderfully Creative Wednesday
What's Cookin' Wednesday
Time to Sparkle
Create LINK Inspire
Lovely Ladies Link Up
Full Plate Thursday
Thursday Favorite Things
Create it Thursday
Bloom Designs Link Party