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One great way to save money is to stop buying and start making a few household and cooking essentials. Did you know you can make vegetable and chicken broth out of what you were going to throw in the trash? Yes, you read that right. You know those pieces of meat and bone you throw in the trash? And the vegetable scraps you throw in the trash? With that and a couple of herbs, you can make vegetable and chicken broth. In my opinion, that’s like getting it for free. 

Keep two freezer bags in the freezer. One for chicken (or turkey, any poultry really) scraps and bones. The other is for vegetable ends or unused vegetables. I go through our vegetable drawer on a regular basis. Even though we do our best to eat all the produce, occasionally there is some that just doesn’t get eaten. Now it doesn’t go to waste. I wash it, coarsely chop it, and throw it in the freezer vegetable bag.

(I personally don’t make beef broth. We use it rarely, the “good” recipes recommend boiling 24 hrs., and I don’t want to take up precious freezer room. But if you use it more often, the same tips apply- save those scraps.)

A little extra tip: If you really, really want to stretch a dollar, here is what we do in my house. I buy a whole chicken (on sale, of course). Buying a whole chicken is the cheapest per pound anyway (versus buying legs, etc.) I roast it and the first two days, husband eats the legs and thighs, his favorite part. Then I chop off most of the rest of the meat and make chicken pot pie. (Click for my chicken pot pie recipe). But wait…we’re still not done. I throw the scraps, including all the bone (yep, the whole chicken) in a Ziploc in the freezer. And, of course, use them to make chicken stock.

Frozen chunks of vegetables & scrap meat (including bones).
Frozen chunks of vegetables & scrap meat (including bones).
Frozen herbs in olive oil. (Another way I save money!)
Simmering for many hours.
Simmering for many hours.

I took step-by-step pictures so you could get an idea of the various steps: how big you can leave the vegetable chunks (nope, you don’t need to dice!) and how I strain the broth, etc.

I use scraps from the freezer. For the herbs, when I have extras, I freeze them in olive oil so I actually don’t have to buy those either. Like I said, this is practically free. Toss a thyme cube and parsley cube in a large pot. (For how I make thyme/parsley cubes, see “12 Ways Ice Cube Trays Can Save Time & Money.”) Add frozen vegetables, sauté for about 5 min., until they start cooking/browning. Add rest of ingredients (chicken scraps, bay leaf, water, salt, & pepper).

Simmer 4 to 5 hours. Strain. Cool. Skim off fat.
And yes, that layer of fat looks horrible. I know. But trust me, the final product tastes good!

Strain into a bowl before chilling to remove any solids
Strain into a bowl before chilling to remove any solids
A good portion of the fat layers on top when you allow it to cool.
A good portion of the fat layers on top when you allow it to cool.
Half the fat skimmed off
Use a flour-sack dishcloth, put it in the same strainer used above, and pour the skimmed broth into a pitcher.
Use a flour-sack dishcloth, put it in the same strainer used above, and pour the skimmed broth into a pitcher.
After a little bit, you may have to “wiggle” the cloth a little bit to get it to finish straining.
After a little bit, you may have to “wiggle” the cloth a little bit to get it to finish straining.
I freeze some of it in a larger container- for when a recipe calls for 2 cups- and the rest as “ice” (broth) cubes. Each cube is approx. 1 Tbsp., so it’s easy to thaw out exactly how much I need.
I freeze some of it in a larger container- for when a recipe calls for 2 cups- and the rest as “ice” (broth) cubes. Each cube is approx. 1 Tbsp., so it’s easy to thaw out exactly how much I need.
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Homemade Chicken Broth

Ingredients

  • Tbsp Olive oil & thyme cube or *olive oil & 1 . fresh thyme
  • Tbsp Olive oil & parsley cube or *olive oil & 1 . fresh parsley
  • 1 chicken carcass plus any extra chicken scraps or equivalent
  • C Approx. 3 . vegetables cut into 1″ pieces, ideally including some onion
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp . salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil & herb cubes in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and cook until vegetables start to brown, approx. 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken carcass and scraps. Add enough water to almost fill the pot. Add the bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low heat and simmer 4 to 5 hours.
  • Let cool slightly. Strain into a large bowl to remove the solids.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator. A layer of fat will form on the surface. Skim off and discard.
  • Use a flour-sack dishcloth and strain again.
  • Freeze until ready to use.
  • *If using olive oil and fresh herbs, add fresh herbs during step 2 with bay leaf; do not sauté with vegetables.

Notes

***For vegetable broth, use 6 C. vegetables & no chicken. Follow rest of instructions as normal.
Vegetables you can save: chop very coarsely if needed
Carrots and carrot ends
Celery
Green onion
Nice looking onion peels/skin
thick green leek tops, bits of leeks (dark part of leeks, if not very tough)
broccoli trunks
cauliflower trunks
Cabbage stalks
Mushrooms & stems, even dried out ones
Woody bits of asparagus
Peels of veggies that don’t need to be peeled, but often are for texture or looks: carrots, zucchini, asparagus, etc.
Seedy, watery bits of tomatoes
~Feel free to try out other ones. Each combination will give your broth a subtle difference.