Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Gifts from the Pantry

In our efforts to save money and get our grocery shopping down to twice a month (excluding produce and milk), it's important to learn to make meals from your stockpile and pantry.
I mentioned in a previous post that we ordered some free range whole chicken from another homeschooler. I cooked two whole chickens for dinner one night last week. One of the chicken we ate and the other I broke down into several meals.

Both of the chicken carcasses went into a huge pot with carrots, onions and celery to make some delicious homemade chicken stock. If you've never tried making your own stock please give it a whirl. It's really not difficult and the taste is worth the effort. Have you noticed the price of chicken stock lately? It's very expensive here and I don't use bullion cubes at all because the sodium, chemicals and taste are just horrible.
This is two of the four quarts of homemade chicken stock I made. The chunks are just ice as I froze these to use with another meal.
The chicken on the second bird was cut off for homemade chicken soup. Even though the chicken is already cooked, I cube it and saute' it in a pan with mushrooms, garlic, onions, zuchinni and carrots. It really gives the soup another layer of flavor when you saute' the items first. I add the broth after the veggies are cooked and then the potatoes at the end just before it's finished cooking. I had some cooked noodles from another meal and added those to the individual soup bowls. The hot soup warms the noodles quickly and they don't get mushy in the pot of soup.

If your pantry is well stocked with dried beans, peas, and grains, you should be able to create meals without too much difficulty. Stretch your meals, use the leftovers and see what you can come up with. We recently had a ham dinner. I always buy the bone in ham because it adds so much more flavor to Pea Soup. I also make a fresh Pea Soup when the peas are in season. With dried peas, I soak them overnight to help get rid of a bit of the starchiness and to soften the peas for faster cooking time.
The rest of the ham can be cut off the bone and used in the soup. This ham bone was in the freezer for a few weeks and they keep perfectly fine. I add the whole hock right in-it gives delicious flavor.

I add some chunks of potatoes at the end of cooking and the ham cubes that I cut off the bone. If your soup is too thin, just add a bit of cream, cook a little longer and enjoy.

Tomorrow I do need to go shopping and restock some pantry items. I went through my coupons tonight and hopefully I will do well in saving some money.

Most of these meals can also be cooked in your crock pot on busy evenings when cooking a meal may seem impossible. I've also been meal planning for the week and choosing meals according to my grocery list or sale flyers. Creating meals such as lasagna or Shepherd's pie, that can stretch over several meals really helps to save money too.

Check out your pantry, see what you have, browse some recipes books and be a little creative when it comes to meal planning. In the process you just might save a few dollars.

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