Thrifty Thursday: Homemade Vegetable Broth

I became an avid nutrition label reader after going vegan, and even more so when I went oil-free. I was shocked to discover just how much oil is sneaked into the most unlikely of places! Vegetable broth, for example. Many of us rely on pre-packaged cans or boxes of broth, or we use those bouillon cubes. They’re convenient, right? Well, that convenience comes at a cost, not just monetarily but also nutritionally. So many of those innocent-looking cubes contain oil, corn syrup and other scary ingredients. 

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Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I see no reason to put up with that when I can make my own fat-free, sugar-free broth with minimal effort and expense. Guess what? You can, too!

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First, you’re gonna want to gather up your veggie scraps. You know, the little bits & pieces of fresh vegetables that would normally get tossed in the trash. Carrot & onion peels, celery leaves, pepper tops, etc. Whatever is left over after preparing your meal, with the exception of salad greens because they don’t freeze well. I also avoid cabbage, kale, broccoli and other strong-tasting (and smelling) vegetables, but that’s just me. Dump these into your container, pop in the freezer and keep adding until it’s full. Now you’re ready to make broth!

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I rely on my Instant Pot for this purpose because it’s fast and easy, but you can also use a slow cooker or even stovetop method. The process is the same: dump the veggies into the pot, cover with water and cook until a nice rich broth appears.  (Times vary, but I did forty minutes in my Instant Pot because I wanted a very rich, dark broth. I’ve read that it can be made in as little as five!) If you want to get fancy, you can add some seasonings but since I’m using this as a base for future recipes, I don’t want any conflicting spices.

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Once it’s cooled down enough to handle, strain your vegetables over a large pot. (Some people put pasta strainers right into the Instant Pot, gonna try that next time!)

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Discard or compost the vegetables, then pour broth into jars or containers for storage. I got about 8 cups of broth.

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I used some immediately for a soup recipe, and the rest I poured into ice cube trays and froze. When I need a little bit of liquid for sauteing vegetables, I just pop one of these out and use in place of oil! So much healthier, right?!

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So, there you have it. Gorgeous, fat-free vegetable broth made from plain old water and stuff  you’d have tossed out into the trash. Frugal, eco-friendly and much tastier than anything you’d find on the grocer’s shelf.  Don’t you feel proud of yourself? I sure do!

Michele

Plan to Succeed

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As I mentioned in my last post, meal planning is an integral part of my homemaking routine. Not only does it save time and money, but it also helps me with my fitness goals. I’ve found that I’m most successful on my “diet” when I plan ahead; the more planning, the more in control I feel which leads to better eating and ultimate weight loss.

I like to dedicate one morning per week for meal planning & shopping. I peruse the grocery sale ads, check my fridge and pantry for what I have on hand, working with what’s fresh and in season whenever possible.  Since I don’t work outside the home, I usually spend Monday mornings on this task. I combine it with laundry day and general tidying-up-after-the-weekend.  Of course, you can choose whichever day works best for you; Sunday afternoon is popular with some folks.

I’ve just completed this week’s meal plan and shopping list, thought I’d share here and perhaps make this a regular weekly blog feature. I’ve featured mostly dinners for now since I tend to eat simple breakfasts and lunch often consists of leftovers from the night before, but did include one lunch-friendly salad and one sweet treat for fun. There are five dinners planned, allowing for dining out or one lazy night when we just throw something quick together.

Michele zucchini

Since I bought a giant zucchini at the farmer’s market yesterday, I’ll be looking for ways to use it up! I also have some overripe bananas which will be baked into bread for a special friend, and a head of red cabbage begging to be cooked. Oh, and a gorgeous pineapple (my favorite fruit) is sitting on my counter, tempting me with it’s sweetness!

Here’s what I’ll be cooking this week; clicking on the links will take you to the author’s original recipes where you can print if you’d like.

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet 90% of the time, allowing for a little oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. Most of the recipes posted are perfect “as is,” no modification required, but in the case of baked goods I just allow myself that bit of fat and move on. (Life’s too short to live without  an occasional bite of chocolate, for goodness’ sake!)

Sending good luck and best wishes to the students and families returning to school today! I hope the 2015 – 2016 school year is your best yet.

Michele