Our winters here in Northern California are milder than anywhere I have ever lived. We don’t get snow at our house, but we do enjoy a rainy season. I love having four seasons, even if they aren’t as extreme as in many places.
One of the best parts of cool weather is soup.
Seriously! Soup warms you from the inside out.
And what’s even better is that soup is super easy and super frugal. And recipes are optional.
Unlike many frugal folks out there, I don’t ever freeze soup. I’ll tell you why and what I do instead! In fact I even made a video for you!
Why I don’t freeze soup
Before you start getting defensive about your freezer full of delicious soupiness, I’ll tell you that there is nothing innately wrong with freezing soup. At all!
I don’t freeze soup because of the sheer quantity of soup required to feed my family.
We eat a lot. A LOT!
My kids are all under ten, but they are very active and have big appetites. My husband is 6’7″ and has a hollow leg.
I saw some yummy looking soups frozen in quart jars on Instagram the other day. It would be perfect for a small family, a couple, or individuals, but there is no way that would work for my crew.
The containers would have to be really big, taking up a lot of freezer space, or there would have to be a lot of quart jars, also filling the freezer.
What I do instead
Instead of freezing soup, I freeze the ingredients for soup. Having the main ingredients ready to go in the freezer makes the assembly super speedy. In fact, the time it takes me to make soup from scratch isn’t much more than it would take to thaw and warm a frozen soup!
Three ways I freeze soup ingredients to save time and money
1. Chop and Freeze Veggies
I like to make versatile “soup kits” to freeze. My typical soup kits have celery, carrots, onions, and garlic in them. That way I can use them for Chicken Noodle Soup, Potato Soup, Vegetable Soup, or a new mystery soup variety.
My typical mixture is 4-6 stalks of celery, 6-8 carrots, 1-2 onions, and a few cloves garlic. No blanching necessary for soup veggies. Just chop and freeze! I chop the veggies small because my kids are little. Veggies hide better (are harder to avoid) that way.
I usually add 12-16 cups of liquid (broth or water + bullion) with this amount of vegetables. Of course that might change depending on what else I’m adding. For example with potato soup, I add lots of potatoes (which I peel and cut fresh), so I add more liquid than if I’m making chicken noodle soup.
On a night when I’m in the kitchen making soup, I just chop several freezer bags of veggies at the same time. That keeps my freezer stocked with soup veggies that are ready for a night when I need to make a dinner quickly.
2. Precook and Freeze Meat
Chicken and ground beef are my go-to meats for soup (actually for everything). I buy meat in bulk (40 pound boxes) from Zaycon Fresh.
I usually freeze the (very large) chicken breasts two per freezer bag. I also do a couple of slow cookers full of chicken breasts when my chicken order comes in. I shred the cooked chicken in the crock pot, then freeze the shredded chicken for soups and casseroles.
The ground beef now comes divided into 1 lb packages. I used to divide it up myself, but now Zaycon does it for me. I like to brown a lot of ground beef at the same time, then freeze it cooked. It’s handy for throwing into taco soup!
Another benefit of having soup meat pre-cooked, is that I can make part of the meal meatless. I have one child that doesn’t eat meat, so when I cook soup, I pull out a bowl or two for her before I add in the meat.
****UPDATE: Zaycon is having a flash sale on chicken. If you’re new to Zaycon you can get a 40 pound box for just $.99/lb with code 99FRESH. That’s the cheapest I have ever seen it! If you have it in your budget, then I would definitely jump on it! If space (or money) is an issue, split it with a friend!***
3. Cook and Freeze Beans
I have a whole post dedicated to how to cook and freeze dry beans so I won’t go into all of the details here. Suffice it to say that is healthier, more appetizing, and cheaper to cook dry beans than use their canned counterparts.
When I make white chili or taco soup, having beans from the freezer is just as easy as opening cans of beans, but without the slimy liquid from the cans!
What about cans?
I do occasionally use canned ingredients. If I use anything canned, I just leave it in the can until I make the soup. It would be silly to open a shelf-stable can and then take up freezer space with it.
There you have it!
For us, freezing ingredients for soup instead of the soup itself works best. Ingredients take up much less space in the freezer than soup with the liquid included, especially when it takes a lot of soup to feed your family.
Even if freezing whole soups isn’t your thing, freezing ingredients might be! Throwing together a soup takes barely any time at all when I have the meat and beans pre-cooked and the veggies chopped. Having the ingredients frozen is so versatile, too! I’m not limited to one kind of soup, or soup at all, for that matter!
How about you?
- Do you freeze soup? What kinds?
- What are your secrets for freezing soup ingredients?
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