In all food financial discussion is mentioned that Belgium is an expensive country and we cannot find affordable food.
We adapted to local sources and started to cook a basic simple cheap dish: vegetable soup. Soup is great for Belgium weather (9 from 12 months are rainy and cold) so having a soup is a basic solution for me to warm my soul and body and not diminish the wallet and most important to not have the question: “mom, what do we eat today??”.
In soups I hide and bring a plenty of veggies for my family. Regularly my husband avoids almost all cooked vegetables, but he doesn’t know what is in the soup as I use it as an opportunity to cash in on nature’s offers and local unappreciated vegetables (pumpkins, root celery, parsnip root, nettles etc)
Soup is great to save time as I cook once, eat twice. Specially the last year with teleworking I started to spend too much time in the kitchen.
Soups are rich on vitamins and minerals and fibers, and low in fats and calories. Even the C vitamin is destroyed by cooking, some vegetables needs very little time for cooking and adding extra herbs will improve it, but there are a plenty of other vitamins that are thermal survivors (A, B, beta-carotene ,iron etc) but help to stay hydrated too, and reduce hunger and increase fullness.
Soups are easy to make, not need strict recipes and we can make it with what we find on the market. Adding 2 extra carrots and one red pepper can change the taste from one soup to another, and if we don’t have it we can make a soup.
Soups can be a lunch or a dinner, even can be take away.
Add condiments for health and flavors: garlic, onions, ginger, curcuma, parsley, dill, bay leaves, basil, chives etc all are famous for the healthy effect and we can play with these to give a nice flavor. More, these condiments I can grow in pots on my balcony so are for free.
Vegetables are cheap. 1-1.5 euro /kg – and I can make dishes with costs under 1 euro /dish.
When I don’t have any idea what to cook, I look on PINTEREST to inspire and choose what soup I can make with existing ingredients and this is how I have a soup for a half of the week.
So what ingredients are cheap in Brussels and I use often for soups? Leek, pumpkins, root celery, parsnip root, potatoes, carrots, onions, cauliflower, red beetroots, cabbages, beans (beans, lentils and chickpeas – I buy dried and boil in advance and freeze) , etc – these are weekly on my shopping list, 4-7 kg of all. 10euro for vegetables and to eat a a half of the week for all the family. Who said we have to be rich to eat healthy?
What I love is to add, on my dish, after cooking, 1-2 spoons of raw olive oil (nice to have a Greek friend) or a big spoon of fat yogurt or heavy cream, dried cheese or dried bread, any condiments freshly cut from a pot.