Chicken stock, or chicken broth, is one of my obsessions! This morning when I was standing in the kitchen, wondering what to make for breakfast, I said to my family, “What shall we have? If nobody has any preferences, I’ll just start by making chicken stock…!” I didn’t end up making chicken stock this morning, but that was a good example of how foundational to my cooking chicken stock is these days.
Since I love chicken stock so much, and think that it is such an important part of a healthy diet, I am going to put to you six reasons why making chicken stock at home will save you money. I *could* write about the health benefits, or the chemistry of chicken stock, but today I’ll start with how it can help you keep more moolah in your pocket, as I hope it will inspire you to go and try making some stock for yourself…
1. When you’d got homemade chicken stock, you can quickly and easily make your own chicken noodle soup for those nights when you would have otherwise bought takeaways
We haven’t bought takeaways for almost a year. I’ve been making chicken stock since before then, but recently I bought a pressure cooker and due to the pressure cooker I made so much more stock than I used to. However, you don’t need a pressure cooker to make stock; any large pot or saucepan is fine, or a slow cooker if you have one. When I want to make a quick meal, I grab some chicken stock out of the fridge or the freezer (it defrosts amazingly fast if you pop it in a pot and turn the heat up high – I think the natural minerals in the stock help it to melt super fast), throw in some pasta or noodles, and maybe chop in a couple of carrots or add a can of corn or some greens like summer beans if I have them. And a bit of salt, maybe a scant tablespoon for a BIG pot of soup, since people can always add more salt in their bowls at dinnertime. Then I cook until the pasta is done (it soaks up lots of yummy flavourful stock) – 15 minutes in a regular saucepan, or 8 minutes in the pressure cooker. Finally, add some shredded chicken leftover from a roast – I always keep some shredded roast chicken in the freezer – or add some sliced chicken breast fillet into the soup near the end of the cooking time. Serve with freshly ground black pepper and save yourself $$! An average takeaway for a family of four easily could set you back $30, if not more. One BIG pot of homemade chicken soup will cost you less than $10.
2. If you make your own chicken stock, you won’t need to buy it from the store when a recipe calls for it
Chicken stock in cartons from the store costs about $4 a litre. I often make chicken stock from chicken bones or carcasses left over from a roast bird. This costs me nothing, so to speak! Even if I buy chicken bones, two decent-sized chicken frames cost me $2 max. From two chicken frames I make almost four litres of nutrient-dense, gelatinous, delicious chicken stock. $4 for 1 litre or $2 for 4 litres; I know which one I choose! Stock freezes so easily that I never need to buy it; I just always keep some in the freezer. I’ve also tried pressure canning it, which made it very useful indeed to have on hand in the pantry.
3. No more stock cubes to buy
I haven’t bought a stock cube for several years now. Instead of adding a stock cube to water, use homemade chicken stock instead of water. A litre of homemade chicken stock costs, at the very most, about 50c and tastes far better than a cube of MSG and other dubious ingredients found in stock cubes (yes, there’s MSG even in the “natural” ones these days – they are allowed to label MSG as simply “spice” or “natural flavours” now). I use homemade chicken stock instead of water in casseroles, stews, soups, gravies and in pasta/rice cooking water to give depth of flavour and a rich glossy finish to sauces.
4. Eating soup a couple of times a week with chicken stock will save you making more expensive meals
A hot hearty soup made from a chicken stock base is filling and nutritious, and eaten with a slice of bread, it makes a perfect inexpensive meal. A bowlful of soup made with a chicken stock should not set you back more than a dollar or two per bowl. Contrast that to an average meat and two veg style dinner, which will cost on average at least $4 per person just in the cost of the meat alone.
5. Making chicken stock will stretch your hot BBQ chicken further
Most families buy a hot BBQ chicken from a takeaway store or supermarket once a week or more. They are a quick and easy way to feed a family if you just add bread and a salad; what family doesn’t do this sometimes, especially on a hot summer’s evening? Now you can get even more out of your BBQ chicken by making a stock from the bones. Once you’ve eaten the meat, put the bird carcass or bones into a large pot, cover completely with water and bring to the boil; then simmer for 2-6 hours. Strain off the liquid and there’s your stock. If you don’t have the time on the same day as the BBQ chicken is purchased, then pop the bones in the freezer where they will quite happily wait until you have a few hours to spare to make the stock.
6. Buy less packet sauces
Packet sauces are in regular use by most families today. When making a roast meal, a gravy, a casserole, or a stew, in go the packet sauces. These packets cost $2-$3 each. One litre of homemade chicken stock costs me 50c if I make it from purchased chicken bones, and practically nothing at all if I make it from the carcass from a roast chicken meal. The flavour is outstanding and far surpasses the flavour of a packet sauce. Simply use homemade chicken stock instead of water in a casserole or stew. When you make a roast, make a roux with the pan drippings and some flour, then add homemade chicken stock and stir over the heat until thickened. Delicious. The only other thing you may need to add is salt, because sauces need salt to bring out the taste, and a packet would contain a lot of salt, but your homemade chicken stock will be salt-free until you use it in cooking. (You don’t add salt when you make a chicken stock because if you later use the stock in a dish that concentrates the liquid at all, the salt will become concentrated too and the result may be too salty.)
Well, that’s our list of six ways homemade chicken stock will save you money. If you have any more ideas, please post them in the comments below. 🙂 I would love to learn about more clever/fun ways to save money by making your own chicken stock at home!