“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

 

One of my favorite ways of saving on my food budget is to “shop the pantry”. What do I have on hand that will make a great meal? One recent Saturday morning while I was making my menu and grocery list I was looking through my freezer to see what I had on hand. Right at the top of the basket in my freezer I found some ham. Ham, yes-but not just ANY ham…

 

I don’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Hubs’ birthday is Christmas Day. It’s tough for people whose birthdays are near the holidays-their special day always seems to get lost in the shuffle. Because of this, I’ve always allowed him to dictate our Christmas dinner menu. His overwhelming choice every year is a Honey Baked Ham. It’s an indulgence, but it’s a doubly special time of year in my house so I don’t mind. There’s something about that glaze, and while I realize I could probably duplicate it for far less money, there’s no way I’m using a blow torch in my kitchen! (Visions of smoke alarms dancing in my head…)

 

One of the best things about a Honey Baked Ham, or any ham for that matter, is the bone. After we’ve had our dinner and our next-day leftover dinner, whatever is left after that, including the bone, gets made into Bean Soup. I swear to you this is some of THE best bean soup ever. I use the recipe from the back of the bag of Hurst 15 Bean Soup beans. You can click the link here for the recipe.

 

There was far more leftover ham than usual this year so, before I made my traditional after-Christmas pot of soup, I took some of the sliced ham and froze it. It was a no-brainer what I would do with it when I came across it in my freezer the other day.

 

Without further ado, here’s how I shopped my pantry and made my family a pot of bean soup…

 

Dried beans, canned tomatoes. chili powder, onion, garlic & lemon. Ingredients for homemade bean soup.
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Dried beans, canned tomatoes. chili powder, onion, garlic & lemon. Ingredients for homemade bean soup.
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Ingredients gathered

 

While I had the ham in my freezer I had to get a bag of beans, an onion and some tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients were already in my pantry so it was just a matter of prepping them and getting them in the pot!

 

Dried beans after being soaked overnight.
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Dried beans after being soaked overnight.
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Soak the beans overnight for best results

 

I had the time so I soaked the beans overnight.

 

Rehydrated beans after being soaked, drained and rinsed.
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Rehydrated beans after being soaked, drained and rinsed.
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Drain beans and rinse well.

 

Once the beans were done soaking they needed to be drained and rinsed. I’ve always loved the look of drained, rinsed beans before they’re cooked. Call me weird…

 

Chopped ham and onion.
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Chopped ham and onion.
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Ham chopped to bite-sized pieces and onion chopped well.

 

Next I had to chop the ham and onion. The ham is cut into bite sized pieces and I’ll admit to cheating on chopping the onion-I used my Pampered Chef onion chopper. Chopping onions has never been my favorite chore…

 

Simmering bean soup on the stove. If only the smell could be bottled!
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Simmering bean soup on the stove. If only the smell could be bottled!
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If only I could bottle this smell!!

 

In no time everything was in the pot simmering away…After 2 hours I added the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for another 30 minutes.

 

Steaming hot bean soup in a serving bowl.
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Steaming hot bean soup in a serving bowl.
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Time to eat!

 

And here is the finished product! Hubs and I thought it was missing something compared to the soup I made right after Christmas, and we both decided the flavor from the ham bone was what we were missing. This soup was good, but not as good as it could’ve been. I think next time we’ll try to find another bone to put in with the ham and see what happens.

 

The best thing about this whole process is how many meals I got out of this one Honey Baked Ham. These hams are expensive, but I got 4 meals out of it at Christmastime and 3 more meals now. I’ll take it!

 

So tell me, how have you shopped your pantry? Do you have any great meal ideas or recipes to share? Please share in the comments or drop me a line at admin@olderwisermoneymiser.com. I’d love to feature your ideas in a future blog post!

 

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…

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