Beating the Bulge...on a Budget (Tuscan Style Soup Recipe)

It's decided. My mission this spring is to fatten my wallet and lessen my dress size! I've got rather, er, cuddly lately as I've been consistently spending well under budget for groceries to the detriment of my waistline. Potatoes, pastry and pasta are all delicious and cheap but it's time to put my health first.

Mr Thrift and I were discussing this over the weekend and he suggested I sign up to the gym again, which I entertained, for a few seconds! I was suddenly disheartened by the financial implications of expensive out of season fruit and veg, packaged low calorie food and gym classes. It even crossed my mind that it would be cheaper to buy a few more forgiving dresses than to fork out hundreds a year on a gym membership.

Then I had a reality check. As much as I want to pay down our mortgage and ensure our financial security, I shouldn't let it get in the way of either my health or my happiness. I'm going to use the resources available to me, available to ALL of us, to drop a dress size. Here are my weapons of choice:


I have trainers, I have feet. I need to MOVE. I'll use free apps like Mapmyrun to track my calorie count and progress. I also have a Garmin GPS watch and heart rate monitor from my running days, so will use this too. I'm too chunky for some of my running stuff, so Mr Thrift's big T-Shirts will have to do for now.

The Allotment

We're going to grow as many organic, fresh veggies as we can. Leaves like rocket and spinach are easy to grow, and very expensive per gram to buy!

The Internet

I've downloaded myfitnesspal to count my calorie intake. In the past I've found consuming less than I burn is the only surefire way to stay in size 8 jeans, so that's what I'll do. It's also one of the more frugal ways. Some diets (Atkins, for instance) would definitely blow our budget out of the water!

I've started collecting low calorie cheap recipes which I can make ahead of time and pack for lunch or reheat for dinner, to keep me on track. Click here to view my Cheap and Healthy Pinterest board if you're an avid pinner too!

Kitchen Scales

I'm going to be weighing nearly everything I put in my mouth so I can keep the calorie numbers accurate.

Tuscan Style Bean Soup

To kick off my new eating plan I whipped up this easy and delicious Tuscan Style Bean Soup, which I enjoyed at my desk for lunch today. I'm sure I'd get thrown out of Tuscany for this, but it was inspired by similar recipes I've seen in my many cookery books.

I often buy beans and tomatoes when they are selling for 4 for a £1, which makes them only 25p a tin; a few tins in the cupboard means I always have the makings of a filling and nutritious meal. Just chuck in some veg from the fridge, some spices and serve with pasta or rice!

In this case, in the name of slimming, I forgo the carbs and make an equally delicious, but considerably lighter, soup.

Serves 6 - £1.66 or 28p per portion, 221 kcals per portion*

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions - 10p
1 tsp very hot chilli powder, or 2 tsps mild/medium chilli powder (or to taste) - 5p
2 teaspoons garlic - 6p
2 red peppers - 17p
2 tins white beans (any kind) - 50p
2 tins plum or chopped tomatoes (I think plum gets you more tomato for your money!!) - 50p
2 stock cubes - 6p
4 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice - 12p

  • Fry the onions in the oil until softened.
  • Add the chilli powder, garlic, and red peppers and fry for 2 more minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the beans, tomatoes and stock cubes, plus 3 tins full of water.
  • Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and season well.
I portioned this up so two will go in the freezer, and the other portions will serve as our lunches for the first two days this week. I'm sure Tupperware has saved us loads of time and money over the years!

*Prices are calculated using mysupermarket. I usually shop between Lidl and Sainsburys. Everything is bought in big packs so whilst you might not be able to buy 2 peppers for 17p, that is the price worked out from the fraction I have taken from a value bag of mixed peppers.

Calories are calculated with


  1. Great to discover your blog. I don't use the gym and I'm trying to do the 1000 miles in a year challenge. I'm going to give your recipe a try. It looks delicious. X

    1. The 1000 mile challenge looks like great fun! We have a National Trust membership so getting walking would be a fab way to get fit. x


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