Of all the ways I’ve been cutting back costs, making my own broth has got to be in the top three ways I’ve saved my family money. I would consider this right up there with making our own yogurt. At first though, I didn’t think making my own broth would be a significant savings. I started it because I needed to cut out processed foods. I’ve got an allergy to certain preservatives, and Monkey can get some wicked migraines to MSG.
But let me tell you, once I started making it, it is very hard to go back to store bought. Not only am I able to control what is in it as far as sodium and seasoning, but I’m also able to easily modify it with what we have on hand. And since it uses things that we would throw out otherwise, such as vegetable scraps or roast chicken carcass, it comes out to pennies spent on making a lot of broth. On the occasional time that I need beef broth or ham broth, I do buy Better Than Bullion’s Beef Base and Ham Base. It’s a very reasonable price for the little amount that I need to use.
One of the best things about homemade chicken broth is that it’s a really flexible recipe. As a matter of fact, most of the items you probably have on hand already! Even better is that you don’t have to use up those ingredients for this purpose; you can save scraps while you cook! Next time you use carrots in a recipe, put the peels and ends in a freezer safe bag rather than throwing them out. Same with onion, celery, and most other ingredients. Please keep in mind, if the vegetables are already rotting though, they are not safe for this purpose. They would be better suited to your compost bin.
Starting with carrots, onions and celery as a basis, it’s easy to modify the broth recipe to what you have on hand from there. I’ve also used carrot tops, zucchini, Swiss chard, garlic, peppers, tomatoes… the list can go on and on! Don’t be afraid to throw in some parsley stems, a few peppercorns, some Kosher salt and a bay leaf or two. It’s best to stay away from veggies that are particularly strong though, like broccoli, cauliflower, beets and cabbage, as they can make the broth taste very strong, and may not be appealing to some.
As for chicken, I’ve used whole roaster chickens, or a mix of drumsticks and breasts. I’ve even used the leftover bones and roasted veggies from nights we’ve had a roasted chicken. Simpler really is better when it comes to this homemade broth, so use what you have on hand and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Place all of your ingredients in a large pot. I use a 12 quart stainless steel pot simply because I can fit a 6 pound whole roaster in it along with veggies. You can season the chicken, and then cover chicken and veggies with water. Turn the heat on high, and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, turn the heat to low, and simmer for an hour. Remove your broth from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, strain out the bones, meat and veggies and skim off any fat that’s on the top.
To store, I divide the broth into freezer safe bags. I like to divide into 2 cup increments because it’s very close to the amount in a store bought can of broth. For added protection, I place two of smaller bags inside a gallon bag. This is just because every once in a while, one of the smaller bags will leak a little, and the gallon bag catches it and makes sure I don’t get broth icicles in my freezer. Freeze the broth until you needed.
If I have the time, I can the broth into pint jar, but we’ll save that for another post.
Each time I make broth, I get about 20-26 cups of broth. This all depends on how much veggies or chicken I used, how much water I put in, as well as how long I let it simmer on the stove.
As for savings, I use 6 cups of broth per week on average. It’s not an exact measure because some weeks I go through a lot more than other weeks. Not only is broth good for soups, but I use it in place of water when I cook rice, as a base for most sauces in skillet meals, and so on.
In my area, canned broth is $1.59 for a 14oz can, or $0.40 per ounce. If I bought 6 cups of broth at the store each week and didn’t pay attention to sales, I would spend $19.08 per week on broth, or $992.16 over the course of a year! That’s a lot of money on broth!
By simply using what I’ve already got on hand, between veggies and chicken, I’m getting a double use out of money we’ve already spent. In turn, I’m making the most out of the money we spend. I love it when that happens!