Sweet, sour, salty and spicy, all the flavors of Thai food in one spoonful. Thai Squash Soup is spoonfuls of good-for-you!
As a registered dietitian and nutrition educator, I hear people complain that it costs too much to eat healthier foods.
Harvard researchers agree. The healthiest diets, those rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, cost an average $1.50 per day more than a diet high in processed foods and refined grains. Over a year this amounts to just under $550, but the investment in your health will pay dividends.
If you think eating is expensive, try paying for a chronic disease!
People with diabetes spend more than two times the amount people without diabetes spend on their health. The average cost to health insurers for 3 months following a heart attack averages more than $398,000.
Eating on a budget
But rather than be grim, let’s focus on how to stretch your food dollars, maximize your nutritional bang for your buck and eat on a budget. These foods are always in my kitchen.
Top 12 healthy budget-minded foods
- brown rice
- beans and peas, dried and canned pinto, black beans, garbanzos, lentils
- canned salmon and tuna
- whole-wheat pasta
- canned tomatoes
- peanut butter
- plain yogurt
- old-fashioned oats
- frozen plain vegetables
If you need help, check out my budget tips plus a cabbage slaw recipe and the LiveBest grocery list. If you want more ideas, look at the USDA’s Healthy Eating on a Budget, a free downloadable cookbook with 2 weeks of menu ideas. Here’s my recipe for Gallo Pinto (black beans and rice).
For this post I wanted to create a healthy entree recipe to help keep food spending in check. Can I make a meal for less than $3 per serving? I think I hit the lottery!
My solution? Squash. A big one.
How to bake squash
I placed this Buttercup squash on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven for about 60 minutes (or until squash is soft and the sides buckle). Remove from oven, allow to cool. After it cooled, I cut it, peeled off the skin, removed seeds and found I had the base for several meals. I stretched that single squash into 5 meals and had leftover squash to freeze!
Cheap, healthy, easy meals: squash recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Tacos, a breakfast skillet, pizza, ravioli with browned sage butter, roasted with maple syrup and Thai Squash Soup. And I still have squash in the freezer for more soup and ravioli! I admit that some of my ingredients aren’t included in this list above, but they are all great flavor boosters. For a squash that cost $8, look at all the meals I made!
Thai Squash Soup Shortcuts
This hearty soup is sweet, sour, salty and spicy. All the flavors of Thai food in one spoonful.
But you know what? You don’t have to buy an enormo squash. Buy a small one. Buy a package of frozen squash. Buy precut squash from the refrigerated vegetable section. You’ll pay more for the convenience, but you’ll be rockin’ this soup in no time!
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Thai Squash Soup
This hearty soup is sweet, sour, salty and spicy. All the flavors of Thai food in one spoonful. Thai Squash Soup is spoonfuls of good-for-you!
- Prep Time: 1 hour 15 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Oven and stove
- Cuisine: Asian
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 4 cups squash, cooked and cubed
- 1 13.66 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 14.5 once can vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown or raw sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Lime, zest and juice
- Toasted squash seeds
- In a 4-quart pan, over medium heat, add oil and onion. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and transparent. If onion starts to brown, reduce heat.
- Add curry paste and cumin, stirring for 1 minute.
- Add squash, coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar, pepper and lime zest. Stir to combine.
- Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through.
- Serve it chunky or smooth. I ran mine through the blender for a minute.
- Top with a squeeze of lime juice and the toasted squash seeds.
- To toast squash seeds: scrape them out of the squash. Remove as much pulp as you can. Rinse in a bowl of water. In a separate bowl, sprinkle seeds with a teaspoon of canola oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for up to 60 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on them for browning. Remove pan from oven, place on calling rack. Seeds will crisp as they cool.
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Calories: 220
Keywords: asian soup, curry soup, squash soup, how to cook on a budget
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