Winter is the perfect time for soups, they are jam-packed with vitamins to help you fight against the flu, the ingredients are basic, it’s affordable (you can use cheaper cuts of meat - for example), you can keep it for ages if frozen and… it’s warm!
Warm, hearty foods on a cold day both comfort and sustain. Slow cookers can be bought for relatively cheap and use little energy - so set the soup up before you head out, and arrive home to a delicious aroma - and a delicious supper.
Let’s be honest, convenience is expensive; cooking from scratch means that you can buy vegetables and other ingredients in bulk while they’re on special and cook up batches of soup or stew that can be kept in the freezer for another day. (Fresh fruit and vegetables are one of the most price variable foods, so it is generally better to buy what is in season.) The other great thing about soups is that most vegetables can be used in their entirety (leaves, skin and all), without wastage or extensive prep time.
Hosting a soup party is a great winter alternative to a braai. Both have a casual atmosphere and instead of everyone bringing their own meat, guests bring soups, breads and cheeses. Serving with soup mugs instead of bowls is a great way to keep things informal and everyone can dish up for themselves. There are literally thousands of soup recipes online to keep everyone happy - from hearty to creamy to spicy.
Once everyone has settled down - let the games begin! With everyone gathered around, soup mugs in hand, it’s the perfect time to introduce a game. There are lots of free smartphone apps that can work for group games, the trouble is finding a good one (I would recommend Heads Up!). If you’re a bit more old-school then feel free to break out a board game or cards.
The point of this article is to highlight that it’s still possible to have a healthy meal and some good old-fashioned fun without spending a fortune on a fancy, formal dinner. Food is an everyday necessity that can be effectively used as an area for cutting down on costs, without sacrificing on nutrition and taste.