Tasty Tuesday: Creating a Soup Bucket (a creative way to use up leftover food)

I’m probably strange, but every time I throw food out, I see money being wasted.  Dollar signs kind of float in front of my eyes and I sometimes feel a bit guilty.  It is true though.  Throwing out food is basically throwing out money.  After all, it is estimated that the average household throws out $590 worth of food a year!

So I was intrigued when I heard a lady that spoke at the mom’s group I attend talk about this idea of creating a soup bucket.  To eliminate the whole leftover dilemma, she simply keeps an ice cream bucket in the corner of her freezer and whenever she has leftovers that she knows won’t get used, she just throws them into the bucket.  When the bucket gets full, she dumps the contents into a pot and makes a soup/stew out of it, adding other ingredients to improve the taste if necessary. Now maybe that just grosses you out, I don’t know.  To me it sounded interesting and like a fun challenge.  I was curious to see if I could make something delicious out of all those random leftovers!

I’ll admit that I didn’t implement this idea right away, mainly because I figured we do a good enough job using up our leftovers that I thought it would be a waste of my time to try it.  But during the next month I was amazed at how many times I threw stuff out that would have easily been “soup” material.  Finally I bit the bullet, got my container and started my own soup bucket.

Soup from my last soup bucket- the gourmet tasting one.

We had “Soup Bucket Soup” three times over the last year and believe it or not, each one was pretty tasty!  No, none of them looked like gourmet soups but one of them did taste like it!  (I share my secret to that gourmet taste below.)

I’ve learned a few things over this last year about using soup buckets, one of the key things being that leftover sauces and seasonings from dishes such as Ham Loaf (I like to scrape the juice left in the pan into my soup bucket) and Herb Roasted Chicken (any of the leftover butter/seasoning mixture gets scraped into my soup bucket) give an incredible flavor.  We had our last Soup Bucket Soup two weeks ago and it was seriously so good that we were wishing I had a recipe to make it again.  I had scraped various leftover sauces into the Soup Bucket and it created a rich flavor that was simply delicious!

When I go to make a meal with my soup bucket I just add extra things as needed.  One time my bucket was mostly liquids and a few vegetables.  So I added some cooked ground beef and cut up a bunch of potatoes and threw them in.  And if the bucket doesn’t have a lot of sauces or seasonings in it already I like to play around with adding things like Italian Seasoning, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder and even Chili Powder.

Still a little hesitant to try a soup bucket?  Here’s some tips for you.

Leftovers that Work Well in a Soup Bucket:
* meats
* cheese
* milk
* broth
* veggies
* potatoes, cut up
* tomato products
* cooked beans
* cooked rice
* cooked pasta
* sauces from meats
* herb sauces like I mentioned above

Things to Add to Help the Flavor/Consistency:
* any of the things from the above list
* tomato juice
* tomato chunks
* chicken broth/stock
* seasonings like I mentioned above
- Italian Seasoning, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder
* whisk a little (maybe a Tablespoon) flour with some milk (maybe a cup or two), add to the soup to make it creamier and to thicken it slightly
* cottage cheese
- I had some of this that was going to spoil and I added it to my last soup bucket.  It just added a nice creaminess.
* cream cheese
* ketchup

Do you ever make soup from leftovers?  What are your tips?

For other recipe ideas, check out Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday, Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Semi-Homemade Mom’s Show and Share Wednesday, and 33 Shades of Green’s Tasty Tuesday.

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