Wednesday, January 21, 2015


This is our first post for feeding a large family on a budget. I have a family of eight plus a grandma that is living with us.  I have six kids ages 15 to 5. My first four are boys, with two teens and a tween that eat a ton. I really have to be careful with the food budget to make money stretch all month long. I will be sharing some of my best strategies and recipes to help save a penny and feed a healthy family.

 I want to share a family recipe I learned from my mother-in-law. I chose this because I was able to use a left over ham that I purchased on sale after the holidays and it uses black beans from my food storage. This is an all day soup great for a cold day or when you have a lot of laundry to keep rotating and folding and will be home. Mom's you know what I mean!!!

Working with dry black beans.

I started with 1lb of dry black beans. Dry beans are so inexpensive they just take a little more work and planning. Honestly, I have struggled with starting here. When I would try, the beans didn't seem to soften. So, I researched and followed instructions carefully and I have been very successful the last few times I have done this. Start by sorting and rinsing your beans. They may contain rocks and dirt.
 I begin by soaking my dry beans overnight in a large pot, covering them with water at least two inches above the beans. No heat, just water.  In the morning I drain the water from the beans and cover them again with clean water and add  2 tablespoons of salt. I then simmer the beans on low until they are the preferred softness. Depending on how old the beans are this will vary, you will want to begin checking them after about 1 1/2 hours.When they are soft and where you like them, drain the water and store in a container in the refrigerator. They can be used in salads, casseroles, soups or anywhere you want in your meals.  If you want to learn more about cooking with beans go to  this website.

Black Bean Soup

(click the names for the recipes)

You will start with a 1/4 lb of bacon cooked in a separate pan. This is to render of some of the fat so don't go too crispy. In a large pot heat the olive oil and cook celery, onions and  minced or pressed garlic until they are soft. I usually add the garlic last to make sure it doesn't burn while the others cook. Add your chicken broth, spices, bacon and ham hocks. Bring this to a boil and allow it to simmer on low for a few hours. You will want to stir it occasionally. Remove the ham hocks from the soup and allow to cool. When they have cooled and you can work with them without burning yourself pull the meat from the bone and add the meat back to the pot. If you are using canned beans or beans that are already softened this is where you want to add them. Simmer 15 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar at the end, this is a must do not skip it.
 Here is the finished meal. I like it  topped with a low fat sour cream. Amy, my sister in law, adds chopped cilantro and salsa. Fresh tomatoes would also be delicious.  I added a spicy, but not too spicy cornbread to go with the soup.


Preparing this from my well stocked pantry the cost was minimal. The ham was purchased on sale and used for Sunday dinner a day before. The spices I keep on hand and always have onions and garlic ready to go. Purchased for this recipe was bacon and celery which I had just run out of. This recipe feeds my family of 8 comfortably, plus Grandma. We had about 5 servings left over for lunches later in the week.


  1. Your pictures caught the attention of my kids. They think this looks so yummy! Your pictures have inspired me to make this soup this week. It's one of our favorites too and I agree about the vinegar. Don't skip it! It adds that zing that takes the soup over the top. I can't wait to try your cornbread recipe too.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I know they will love it! The cornbread is something you can really tailor to you personal taste. Enjoy