Here's a subject near and dear to my heart - Stock!
Yes, stock. I love it. I use it constantly, for a richer and fuller flavor to my meals. If a recipe calls for water, I use stock. Broth, if I have to, but I prefer to use home made stock. And I will tell you why. Homemade stock is low in sodium, because you control what you put in it when you make it. It's easy to store, and it's an environmentally friendly way to wring out the last little bit of your foodstuffs before throwing it out or , (as in the case of the veggies) throwing it in the compost, as we do, adding another environmentally friendly layer to the mix).
You can make stock out of virtually anything you cook. My favorite is chicken, beef, and veggie stock. All require a little forethought, but once you get in the groove, you will give it no more of a thought than you gave to meal planning in the first place.
Chicken and beef stock: First rule of business is SAVE YOUR BONES! After any meal, throw the leftover bones into a freezer baggie (one for chicken and one for beef and LABEL the bag, trust me, you will forget which is which), and put them in the freezer. When you get enough bones to fill a stock pot about 1/3 of the way, you are in business. Throw the bones in the pot, cover with fresh cool water, bring up to a boil, then turn the temp down low and let simmer for a few hours. Ta Da! Let cool, fish out the bones and toss, then freeze the stock for later use.
Veggie stock: Same first rule of business: SAVE YOUR SCRAPS! I know it sounds gross, but come on, you cleaned the veggies before cutting them right? Pretty much anything is fair game when it comes to veggie stock: carrot and potato peels, celery ends and tops, onion cores...whatever you were going to throw out, put it in a freezer baggie and freeze. Get a good mix of stuff in there, and then do the same thing as with the chicken and beef bones. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer for a few hours. Take the strainings and throw them into your compost pile, or throw away.
Here's a great tip that I learned awhile ago for storing your frozen stock. Once it's cool, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Once they are frozen, put them in a baggie for minimal storage space in the freezer. Each cube is about 2 tablespoons of liquid if you need measurements for a recipe.
Great. I have now have a freezer full of stock, what do I use it for?? Whatever you want. As I said, it makes a great replacement for water in a recipe. You can substitute stock for water when making rice, I boil potatoes in veggie and chicken stock (or a combo of stock and water) when making potato salad. Last night I used veggie stock for poaching salmon fillets. And, of course, there is always soup to be made! Really, its uses are endless.
I hope you try making stock, it's fun, it's not time consuming, and it's a great way to wring a little extra out of a dollar - which is something most of us need.