After my last post about ‘Real Food’, I got a good comment that inspired this post. Olivia asked if eating Real Food was possible on a meager grocery budget. That’s a really important question. If it’s not possible – why bother?
I know that we can’t afford to eat perfectly. At the same time, we have a long way to go before we are really maximizing what we can afford. One way I bring down food costs is tby making things myself. This requires time to plan as well as time to cook. It is definitely a habit that requires a lot of work to develop. It’s like exercise. You can’t run a marathon without training. I can’t even run a mile without training – it doesn’t come naturally to me and I have to work at it.
One thing I have started doing is making my own broth. It’s way less expensive than canned, and more nutritious. It’s the foundation for a lot of recipes, so I’ll tell you how I make mine. Plus, I get to use the word ‘marrow’, which makes my friend Nicol throw up a little in her mouth (her phrase; not mine) which I think it’s hillarious.
It’s really, really easy. For chicken broth, just take a chicken carcass that has been fairly well cleaned. After you’ve roasted a chicken, for example, and have picked off the leftover meat for chicken salad sandwiches (or whatever). Throw it in your crockpot with a lot of water. Your second ingredient is vegetables. I throw in some carrots and celery, put the top on the crock pot, and let it cook on low for about 6 hours. Then I strain the broth with a sieve, and let it cool. You can discard everything else. After it has cooled, the fat rises to the top and will just jump onto your spoon if you are gentle so you can just get rid of that.
Every time I clean and cut up a carrot or stalk of celery, I throw the ‘leftovers’ in a ziplock freezer bag. The same goes for vegetables that are kind of getting soft, but I don’t have a recipe to use them up before I would have to throw them away. Everything in the vegetable bag goes into the stock – right from the freezer.
Can you see the savings? I don’t buy baby carrots, which are more expensive. I don’t buy celery hearts, which are more expensive. I want the scraps. A whole chicken is less expensive than boneless, skinless breasts. Plus, you get the bones – where the marrow resides.
Last night, I made this recipe with my home-made broth. I also freeze corn when it’s in season here (another cost saver), so this was a very inexpensive meal. We try and eat one non-meat meal per week, but this week we’ve had two already and will have one more tomorrow. It has taken time for all of us to get used to the meatless meals, but now it’s completely normal. It’s just a process that takes time.
Southwestern Corn Chowder (an Everyday Food makeover)
2 tablespoons real butter
2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 baking potatos cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups frozen corn kernels
6 cups home-made chicken broth
3 cups whole milk
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add white part of scallion, carrot, chili powder, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until scallion is soft, about 2 minutes. Add potato, corn, broth, and milk.
Bring to a boil over medium-high, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until potato is easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in green part of scallion, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 day.
For more Real Food Wednesday, check out Kelly the Kitchen Kop.