Here are some things I've already been doing that stretch my food dollars when making healthy and nutritious meals. I happen to make homemade dog food using boiled chicken thighs. I've been able to strain the broth obtained from the meat and freeze it for use later in soups and for making rice. Win-win!
I also make homemade chicken wings. I buy the wings whole and cut them up myself. I save the "waste" wing tips in the freezer, and when I have enough, I boil those for the broth. Like many people, I use leftover ham bones in my pea and bean soups. I've also boiled roasted chicken and turkey carcasses to make soup and broth.
When my grape tomatoes get tired looking and a bit wrinkly, they go straight into the freezer to be used in tomato based sauces and in soups. The green tops of leeks I freeze for use later in soups, stews and sauces. I leave them in large pieces and simply remove them (like bay leaves) at the completion of cooking. Overripe bananas, if they can't be used promptly for baking, go in the freezer for use at a later date. Bruised or uncrisp apples are trimmed and cut up for baking.
Left over rice and pastas freeze nicely to be used in soups. I even add them in my dog's homemade food.
Today's Musing is about making homemade vegetable stock using vegetable scraps and peels. I saw a few articles that prompted me to give this a try. It really hadn't occurred to me to make something edible with ingredients that, for so many years, I've simply tossed out as waste or composted! I cook from scratch most of the time, and we eat a large amount of fresh vegetables. I have lots of scraps that I could easily collect. I kept a Ziploc bag in my freezer and kept adding the vegetable scraps until the bag was full. I saved carrot ends and peels, cucumber ends and peels, zucchini ends, onion ends and even the papery peels, ends cut from green onions, stem ends and trimmings from red and green peppers, bottom ends of romaine lettuce. I even included turnip peels and some stems (not alot) from broccoli.
Once the bag was full, I dumped it into a stock pot, covered it with water, and brought it to a simmer for about 4 hours. I kept the pot full as some liquid boiled off. Next time I will cover the pot, but this time I liked to be able to keep watch and stir. You can also make this in a crock pot if that is more convenient. After 4 hours or so the vegetables were cooked down to a very soft state. I then strained the cooked scraps from the broth. They were boiled and mushy but my broth was darker and clear. Ultimately, I ended up with 3 large freezer containers of broth that I will freeze to use later in soups and for cooking rice. It's a bit bland without salt, but I cook with low salt anyway. I simply salt my sauces, soups etc.to our particular tastes during cooking or at serving. The beauty of scratch cooking is being able to control the type and amount of ingredients!
Here are the links to articles that got me started. They give good tips for what to save (and not save) in your scraps. I didn't save potato peels, but I have creative use for those described in a future Musing! Stay tuned!
Here are photos of my vegetable stock being made.