52 ways to save money on a healthy diet: Make homemade stock and salad dressing

Over at MoneySavingMom.com, Crystal started a blog series about 52 ways to save money this year. I have been brainstorming about how to talk more about eating healthy but frugally on a more regular basis at The Nourishing Gourmet, and I loved her format. So, on Thursdays (to go along with my Pennywise Platter Thursday carnival), I will be presenting a tip on how to save money while eating a whole food, nourishing diet.

I am really excited about it! It will be entitled: 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet. Since this is the second Thursday of the year, I will be giving two tips today. Both of these tips were practices that I developed early on in my home cooking career. They served two purposes. The first was to improve the nutrition of my food, while at the same time cutting out undesirable ingredients. The second helped me save money on our food budget.

Week 1: Make your own salad dressing
If you need motivation in making your own salad dressings, let me give you two motivators. First, read the ingredient label on your salad dressing bottle. Eating an iceburg lettuce salad tossed with genetically modified (and rancid and processed) oils in the form of a salad dressing (not to mention the preservatives, MSG, and refined sugars found in many), and you don’t have the healthiest dish in the world.

And I personally don’t find these salads the best tasting either.

When I first started making salad dressing, I had one basic recipe that I used 90% of the time. It was herby, tangy, and garlicky, and it was good. It also took about 5 minutes to make. Score! This was when I was delving into cooking in high school, later I started experimenting with different vinegars and flavors and proportions. Salad dressings are so FUN! And delicious. The side effect is that I’ve completely lost my taste for most store-bought salad dressings now – except if it’s one of the exceptional real food ingredient versions (that are also quite spendy).


I also noticed that the reviews of my salad book, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons, especially note the salad dressing section as a favorite. I think that is because the salad dressing makes the salad.

But to the point, making your own, using a basic, high quality extra virgin olive oil (I will have to do a post about some different olive oil brands that are a true olive oil, but not super expensive), and raw apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar is super quick, not expensive, and is truly delicious too. You can download a few of the recipes from my salad cookbook here – it includes a recipe for Leon Salad and Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette, and my Everyday Salad Dressing.  and I also shared a favorite recipe for Sweet Onion Poppyseed Dressing here.

Week Two: Make your own stock

Also early on, I started making my own chicken stock. This was not as early as my salad dressing endeavors, but a habit I got into once married. We had a weekly meal of roasted chicken with a green salad (with homemade dressing, of course), and a grated carrot salad, and brown rice (served with butter and gravy). We’d pick the carcass clean, use the leftover chicken in a variety of recipes, and then I’d turn those beautiful bones into beautiful chicken stock.

I was the master at getting the most broth possible about of those bones. I think often my stock would be almost half vegetable stock, half chicken, because I would add in so many vegetables, and then sometimes a raw chicken drumstick or two to beef up the flavor. Then that would be turned into so many meals for us (at this point it was only two of us). Chicken noodle soup was almost on the menu every week, just because we liked it so much. But creamed vegetable soups were on often as well.

I just wrote a cookbook containing over 100 recipes for soups in it (Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons), so you could say that this habit has stayed with me well! But the point is not that you need to buy my book, but rather that you need to make your own broth! Save any bones. Seriously. Don’t throw out those chicken legs bones, or the bones from bone-in breastmeat, or the chicken drumsticks bones. Put them in a baggie in the freezer and when you have a couple of pounds, make it into a nutrient dense stock. I often saved vegetable scraps to use as the vegetable base too! Some big pots of broth were made purely out of the “leftovers” that most people will throw away. Your tummy will thank you, and your budget too.

I was able to keep us in a very tight budget by serving so many soups made with homemade stock (I generally served them with homemade baked goods and butter and a salad). Soups are like the frugal queen of the frugal kitchen. Homemade stock made our meals more nutrient dense and more frugal. What more can you ask for?

Later I learned how incredibly frugal making beef broth is (and it is delicious too), once I found a frugal source for bones. It generally costs me around 5 dollars to make a substantial pot of beef stock. Delicious! It costs even less when I use bones I got almost for free when I buy my beef quarter.

Fish stocks can be almost free, if you can get your fish bones for free. I love to use them in seafood chowders and such. And that’s not even mentioning anchovy stock, which is super frugal as well. (I have those recipes in my book, but I am sure you can find good ones online too).

Start with chicken broth, if you have never made it before, make sure you cook it long, and salt it really well, and enjoy some really delicious soups. Recipes you might find helpful: Chicken Stock, Beef Stock

So those are my two tips. I choose to write about them first, as they are some of the mostly deeply ingrained practices of my kitchen. I can’t wait to share more with you!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. Jenny says

    This is such a great idea!!! Thank you for putting this together. I have to say that I’ve got the chicken stock making down, but definitely need to start making my own salad dressing. Yay, I can’t wait to see more ideas! I wonder if you could make a printable so we could print it out each week and make a binder to reference. Or i guess I could just print off the post. Thanks again!

    • KimiHarris says

      Oops! Sorry about that. Don’t worry, there was no virus on the link. I just left in the “https”, when it should have been “http” in the address on accident. It should be fixed now. :-)

  2. kelly says

    I am loving this idea! It is so expensive to go to the grocery store these days. I love that I can look forward to these frugal tips. (and I own your book and am LOVING IT as well!) thanks for all your hard work in practical tips for those of us who are trying to help our families eat healthy and on a budget.

  3. RJ says

    My problem is keeping up with my stock consumption. I find myself planning meals with chicken bones just so I can make more stock!

  4. Susan says

    Hey, I just bought your “Ladled” book, and I started The Nourished Kitchen’s “Perpetual Soup” chicken broth this past Monday. I used the stock to make two dishes this week, and yesterday I started drinking some of the broth in a tea cup to help improve immunity and ward off some of the icky colds & flu that are floating around in our community right now. I have beef bones in the freezer waiting for me to make beef stock, and I’m so excited about learning how to make more soups from your new cookbook. :D Thanks for sharing all that you’ve learned!

  5. Molly says

    Great post that may have just inspired me to try some new salad dressings. Right now I make the same vinaigrette every time. We all love it, and it does only take 5 minutes to make, but your other ideas also sound very yummy.

    Also, I would LOVE to read a post on true olive oils. Right now Im using Kirkland brand evoo. Do you know if this one is really all olive oil? Thanks and looking forward to more ideas!!

  6. Valerie says

    Should we only use organic bones? I haven’t found a reliable source yet and grocery store organic is out of my budget for regular consumption.

  7. Wendy W. says

    We’ve been making your Sweet Onion Poppyseed Dressing and the whole family loves it. That Salad cookbook was so worth buying! Thank you!

  8. Karen says

    Only problem is that soup doesn’t make for very good lunch leftovers for my husband, who does not have a way to heat his food up mid-day. We try to stay frugal by eating leftovers for lunch. But I love soup and we will make it for the weekends! Thanks to you, I started making my own broth AND my own salad dressings. I love your salad book and can’t wait to get your soup book in the mail.

    • KimiHarris says

      Hey Karen,

      We use a wide mouthed thermos for soups for lunches. :-) I find that if you fill it with really hot water (and then pour out) before you put in the soup, it keeps hot at least 3-4 hours.

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