Keep your freezer stocked with this practically free vegetable stock made from veggie scraps and you’ve got the base of hundreds of meals. No more stock powder cubes!
Stock forms the basis of many healthy, inexpensive meals like soups, stews, casserole, risotto, sauces – just to name a few.
Making your own will not only save you money, but it will be healthier, taste a million times better than stock cubes and your homemade stock will have less salt and no additives.
A tetra pack of ‘real’ stock costs around $4 for 1 litre.
You can make three times as much for (practically) free.
Making stock is really easy. It takes time, but you just put it on the heat and leave it. I use a slow cooker and cook it overnight. Just set and forget and then wake up to the beautiful smell of your own stock.
While the ingredients are free, you have to pay for the electricity to make your own stock. Our slow cooker costs about 4 cents an hour to run, so overnight, I spend about 52 cents to make this stock (find how to calculate your appliance running costs here).
How to make your own Vegetable Stock
Scrap stock starts long before the actual cooking begins. It starts with the collecting of scraps.
Collecting Vegetable Scraps for Your Stock
Keep a bag or container in the freezer for keeping your scraps in. Then…
When you prepare meals, wash your vegetables and save the peelings and the scraps. Put them in your freezer bag and keep it in the freezer so your scraps don’t go mouldy.
Include scraps such as:
- onion skins and ends
- carrot peelings and ends
- zucchini ends
- mushroom stalks
- parsley stems
- the green part of the leek (washed)
- garlic skins
- celery tops
Limit things like broccoli stems and cabbage as these can give the stock a strong flavour. I sometimes throw these in anyway, because I don’t mind the flavour. Brown onion skins and red capsicum will give the stock a dark colour.
Vegetables that don’t go well in stock are starchy vegetables like potato, so it’s best to keep spud peelings out of your scrap bag.
Cooking Vegetable Stock
When you have a full bag, throw the vegetable scraps in a pot or slow cooker. Top it up with 3 or 4 litres of water.
If you like the taste, add a few peppercorns and a bay leaf or two. If you’re short on onion, carrot or parsleys scraps, throw a bit extra in the pot.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a few hours.
Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for eight hours or overnight.
After your stock has simmered and developed it’s wonderful flavour, the next steps are:
- strain the vegetables using a fine sieve
- divide your stock into convenient portion sizes that suit you (I usually freeze 500ml lots); and
- freeze for later
You can freeze the stock in plastic zip-lock bags, containers or glass jars as pictured. If you do use glass jars, just be sure to leave plenty of head-room in the jar for the liquid to expand as it freezes. Otherwise, your jars will smash in the freezer!
Now you have an almost free base for soups, casseroles, sauces, stews, risotto, or whatever you use stock for.
Looking for more stock recipes? Check out these related articles:
- Reduce waste with this gelatinous slow cooker pork stock
- Bone and Barley Broth – delicious, nutritious and cheap
- Beef Bone Broth in the Slow Cooker
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.