Easy Alphabet Soup Recipe
My friends at Fred Meyer recently challenged me to come up with a few budget-friendly and healthy kid lunch recipes for back to school. At first I told them, “You know, I’ve done this idea before…and I think I’m out of ideas!” After all, I’ve talked about bento, putting quinoa in muffins, putting a spin on peanut butter sandwiches, and making cheeseburger muffins. That should be about good, right?
After further consideration, I realized maybe *I’d* gotten in a rut of sending my kids to school with the same ol’, same ol’ things. So after some real soul searching, Googling, and serious brainstorming, I came up with three kid-friendly recipes perfect for back to school. Each of the three recipes I’ll be sharing has the following in common:
- Simple, inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients. No gooseberry leaf rice flour or rosebud-infused vinegars.
- Easy and quick to assemble. It’s important to me that these recipes
- Freezer friendly. I wanted to create recipes you could easily create in batch and throw in the freezer once a month.
- Kid-friendly. I tested each of these recipes on my kids and they passed the test. And I have picky kids!
- Healthy (or nearly so) recipes. I understand everyone’s version of healthy is different, and I don’t care to split hairs. My goal is to make delicious, portable lunch items that offer good nutrition for your little ones. If there are ingredients you deem “unhealthy,” switch them.
Today’s recipe is probably something you wouldn’t normally consider sending your child to school with: hot alphabet soup! I’m drawing inspiration from this recipe at AllRecipes.com.
In fact, I usually do think of “cold lunch” as being…well…cold. But why should it be? Check out the huge selection of food storage solutions I found at Fred Meyer on a recent trip; several of these are insulating, which means hot foods are now an option! (Tip: make sure to check the ads for coupons before making a purchase.)
What better soup to send your child than alphabet soup? It sure seems fitting for back to school! At my Fred Meyer store, I found the alphabet pasta pictured above for just $0.47 in the Hispanic section. Score!
This recipe has great flavor, thanks to a full carton of beef broth. It also sneaks in servings of vegetables, thanks to a full 46 oz bottle of V8 Juice!
The recipe also calls for mixed vegetables – you can save time and money by using frozen, such as this bag from Fred Meyer.
- 1 lb lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 carton beef broth, 32 oz
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 bottle V8 juice, 46 oz
- 1 cup frozen vegetables
- 1 small package alphabet pasta (about 7-8 oz)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- salt & pepper, to taste
Start by sauteing the onion in olive oil until soft in a large saucepan or stock pot, about a couple minutes. Then, cook your ground beef. I did *not* drain mine because I used very lean ground beef and wanted the little fat that remained to flavor the soup. (But you do what you want!)
From there, you add everything else: the broth, V8, water, frozen vegetables, pasta, bay leaves, and seasoning. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through. If you find you want more liquid, add either more water or broth. But at this point, you’re pretty much done. (Just remove the bay leaves before serving.)
This recipe makes a LOT of soup – roughly 12 servings. It is full of fiber and protein and is absolutely delicious! It’s got a familiar, comforting flavor. (My son kept saying, “This reminds me of something, Mama!”) It’s fantastic with bread dipped in it, or by itself.
And, since many of you may be wondering, here is the rough price breakdown (prices are estimates) by shopping at Fred Meyer:
- Ground beef: $7 (I used organic)
- Vegetables, including frozen: $1.20
- Broth: $1.99
- V8: $2.49
- Pasta: $0.47
- (I had all the seasonings and water, so I won’t count those)
- TOTAL: $13.15 ($1.10/serving) – obviously I could have made this even less had I not opted for the organic meat
After prepping this recipe, I enjoyed it for several days afterwards for lunch. It’s surprisingly low in calories and very filling. I would also add that the flavor almost gets better the longer it sits in your fridge!
To serve it in your child’s lunch, just make sure to use a thermos that is suitable for retaining heat long enough to get from your house until lunchtime. If you don’t currently have something like this, Amazon sells these Thermos containers in a variety of colors and characters for about $13-$15. I found some at Fred Meyer for slightly less than this, and there are often coupons in the ads you can use, too.
If you ever send your kids with hot lunch for cold lunch, I’d love to know what else you do – and how you keep it hot!
Stay tuned for a couple additional delicious, budget-friendly lunch ideas you can send your child to school with this fall!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post from Fred Meyer. They additionally provided me with a gift card for the purposes of this post. For information on how this blog makes (and does not make) money, please see my Disclosure Policy.