Kitchen tips: How I’m making meals out of what most people would throw away!

Jun 19 2017
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This post is all about my favorite frugal kitchen tips! I save every single glass jar that comes with a decent lid. I can’t help it! Here’s the thing though, I use them CONSTANTLY. A big batch of stock to freeze? I fill up a bunch of jars and stick them in the freezer. Leftover soup? Yup it all goes in jars and gets frozen. One of my old plastic herb shakers finally breaks? Dump that garlic salt in a jar! (My entire seasoning cabinet will eventually be nothing but jars with green Parmesan container lids screwed on them.) Leftover bacon grease? Yup, it goes in a jar so I can use it later. Leftover every other kind of grease? That also goes in a jar and when the jar is full, it gets thrown away. So handy. I’ve also managed to collect 6 glass drinking “bottles” from my favorite organic tea that I spoil myself with from time to time now I always have one full of our water in my car at all times, which helps me avoid the impulse purchase of buying something to drink when I’m in town.

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!
My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

Remember the frozen juice everyone used to buy? Yeah, I started doing that again. Juice is very expensive! Now I always have a few frozen juices in the freezer at any given time and they all even claim to be “100% juice” I saved a couple of large jugs from past juice purchases and just funnel them into there, add water until they’re full and viola: I can’t believe how much money this has saved us! (Each little thing of frozen juice is less then $1.50 and it entirely fills up a gallon jug.)

I don’t always remember to use my cloth shopping bags so that means I bring home plastic grocery bags on occasion so I use them as garbage bags in all of our trash cans throughout our home. I also use them in our freezer, one got 12 bags of frozen carrots, the other helped corral 15 bags of frozen tomatoes and several other things. They don’t last forever in the freezer but it does help keep something resembling order. I also always keep one in my car behind my front seat for catching trash. I might not have the prettiest or newest car on the block but she’s clean on the inside 🙂

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

Save vegetable scraps. I can’t believe I had to see a video online because this is so OBVIOUS. Just save your scraps. I keep a gallon zip lock bag in the freezer at all times. Peal potatoes? Great, the peals go in the bag. Clean an onion? Awesome the skins and everything go in the bag. Peal a bunch of carrots? Yup their skins go in the bag too. (Just make sure and wash all your veggies first.) I literally don’t throw anything away when I clean any kind of vegetable now, it all goes in the bag.

Save your bones. Just like saving your vegetable scraps its time to start saving all of your meat scraps too. One of our favorite recipes is pan fried chicken thighs so when I bring them home I debone them and all raw chicken bones and scraps go in their own gallon size zip lock bag. (One thing that’s really nice about this is that I don’t have to be so careful to get every last bit of meat off the bone now because I know it won’t be going to waste.) The other day my dad made a ham and I brought the whole thing home and, of course, the bone and all of the scraps went in its own bag in the freezer too and I’ll either make beans or ham soup out of it.

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

This last weekend I noticed my chicken scrap bag was getting full so I dumped it in a pot with my vegetable scraps and boiled it all day. (Note: My stock is so richly colored now that I’m using onion skins – great unforeseen benefit!) It made SEVEN big jars worth of stock and, seriously: once you start doing this you won’t believe the amount of meat that you would have thrown away otherwise. When the stock is finished I always separate out and save all of the meat I can and just drop it back into my jars of stock. Normally I would have cut up an onion and thrown a bag of carrots in there as well, this time though I didn’t need to as my veggie scraps bag did that for me. Literally I just made several almost-full meals for us out of nothing but SCRAPS that most people would have thrown away. My mom called me sick the other day so I thawed out a jar of stock, threw some cooked pasta in there and delivered her a pot of absolutely delicious homemade chicken noodle soup. When I cook a turkey now (for thanksgiving, xmas, holidays etc.) I butcher it completely and boil the entire “carcass” and make homemade turkey stock in the same way I make chicken stock. (I’ve actually found now that I’m more fond of turkey stock then chicken stock – it seems to have more flavor.)

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

And so now, after a long day of working at my day job, and I don’t want to make supper, I’ll just thaw out a jar of stock, add some noddles and BOOM: homemade chicken noodle soup. And all it cost was half a box of pasta which is usually less then $1! SO easy. If I feel like doing a bit more I’ll thicken up the stock, add some Parmesan, seasonings and Linguine noodles, throw some garlic bread in the oven and make pasta instead. I stopped buying milk and, ya know what? I like our “Fettuccine Alfredo” now WAY better using my homemade stock instead of milk or cream – it is so much more flavorful!

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

This is the pot I use to make my stock in and, ya know what? Its actually a big pasta pot so it literally has a strainer built in! PERFECT for making stock! And I’ve made enough stock now that I also purchased myself a second strainer to also put inside my pasta pot – essentially giving me two separate strainers. So, I fill the pot halfway with water, insert its strainer, add all of my chicken pieces and then, on top of that, I drop in THIS strainer that I purchased on amazon and put all of my vegetables in there. This keeps the veggies and the meat separate which means I don’t have to sort through them and have to separate the meat out after its been boiled together. I salt and pepper the stock as I’m cooking it but otherwise I don’t season it at all, but in this case its really a free for all, stock takes flavors beautifully and if I have any leftover fresh herbs I throw them in there too.

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

I generally cook the stock at least four hours but you can really let it simmer ALL day. Once its done, I pull out both strainers, toss the cooked veggies in the trees outside and set the chicken in a bowl to cool. I put my big pasta pot with the broth directly in my sink because I always seem to manage to spill a bit. I tried using ladles and funnels initially but, honestly, the easiest way to fill your jars is to just dunk them in the pot. Once the broth gets so low you can’t dunk the jars anymore then I use a ladle to get the rest of it out. You’ll find if you season with pepper that it will settle to the bottom so the last inch or so of stock that’s full of pepper I divide between the jars. Then I separate the meat from the bones and divide that up between the jars too. From there you just need to wait for them to cool to room temperature before you lid them and freeze them. Remember: DON’T fill your jars too full. It is better here to ere on the side of caution or else your jars will blow their lids when the broth freezes.

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

And there you have it! My dad’s mom (my Grandma Eleonora) knew that my favorite meal was her homemade chicken noodle soup and every year on my birthday she would boil an entire chicken for me. Once the stock was done she would strain it and then take all of the meat off the bone, put it in a pan by itself, cover it with cream and salt and pepper and I would eat that on buttered toast beside her homemade chicken noodle soup. Goodness my mouth is watering just thinking about it lol! Her favorite noodles to use were the angel hair pasta egg noodles that were only a couple of inches long but I have a very hard time finding them… So I just toss in whatever pasta I have on hand.

My favorite frugal kitchen tips and how I'm making meals out of what most people would throw away! making chicken broth our of nothing but kitchen scraps!

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52 Comments on "Kitchen tips: How I’m making meals out of what most people would throw away!"

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Lace Faerie
Sounds like we are kindred spirits when it comes to being frugal, thoughtful and inventive when it comes to not wasting food! I used to blog regularly and a ways back, I posted something right along this topic. Perhaps it might be helpful to others. Since this post I have started canning more and more. We had a power outtage that was suggested might last for 3-4 days. I found myself in a quandary. I have two freezers in the garage in addition to the bottom freezer of our refrigerator, and keep a well stock fridge as well as… Read more »

What neat ideas! 🙂

I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!


What wonderful suggestions, thank you!

Gentle Joy Homemaker
What a great post! I usually do most of the things you discuss… and it really does help the budget… and our health. All of those “scraps” have so many nutrients left in them and I agree with you that the flavors all combine so well in a soup stock. I have also saved cookie crumbs from various batches, in the fridge (I have 6 kids, so we do a lot of cookies and usually there are some crumbs!).. I store those crumbs in the freezer until making something and toss them in… extra flavor in another batch of cookies…… Read more »
Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

What a great way to make use of scraps! The only caution is that if your vegetables aren’t home-grown or organic, the peels contain a higher concentration of pesticides than the inside, so they are not the safest of food.

Here are my 70+ ways to reduce food waste–including a number of other recipes for things some people would throw away!


Lots of good tips. Sometimes I forget all the easy things to do to save money. I’ve much better at it at the cabin (where we live the majority of the time) than when we come to town to do what we call “town chores.” – Margy

I’ve had people ask me to post recipes more often, but the problem is that I really don’t use real ‘recipes’. Even the recipes that I plan out are adapted to use up what we’ve got, so I do a lot of stuff like this. My grandmother fed 5 boys and 2 girls by using every single scrap of food in her house, and I grew up hearing stories of ‘garbage potage’ (garbage soup). Like you, she would put every single edible scrap in a bucket in the freezer and when it was full she made soup for the family.… Read more »
Anne In The Kitchen
I love this post. I do all of these things in my kitchen! Two things I also do are to roast the bones first. Roasting is easy and it adds great depth of flavor to the stock. I just chuck them in the oven in a roasting pan at 375`. I leave them until they are browned. Then, I top the pan up with water and lower the heat to 250`. I leave it in at least 4 hours (but sometimes all day). In the summer, I do this in the crock pot. On high and dry to roast the… Read more »
Disney Magic Mommy

I’ve never thought about putting glass jars in the freezer. I always wondered if they would shatter. i do try and keep the scraps in freezer bags, but they tend to get lost, or go freezer burnt before they get all get used. I need to try and do better on food waste this summer! While we don’t waste a ton, any waste is throwing away money! I came over from a link party, glad I did! I’ll be back to read more!

Jann Olson

Great thrifty tips! Thanks for sharing them with SYC.

Michelle Leslie

I’m so glad you shared these Tarah, we’ve become such a wasteful species and so much ends up in the dustbin instead of being used to make something delicious. We’re very much like you. All our scraps get reused for soups, stews and stock and even the compost heap. The only thing we throw away are the outer skins of onions and that’s only because, we found that onions don’t work to well in the compost heap. Our fur babies always get a share of what’s cooking and I’ve heard that onions aren’t good for them.

Judee@gluten free A-Z Blog

This is a great post. I too save vegetable scraps for broth, but I wasn’t saving the onion skins. I feel so good making a broth out of what ordinarily would have been garbage. I do have a question. I sometimes freeze in my mason jars. I leave plenty of space for expansion, but I notice that I still get a hairline crack in the jar. I’ve never tried regular jars because I thought it might be even worse.

Find the mason jars that are made for freezing and canning, and follow the directions that come with come with them or check Balls website for more information. Also, your chicken broth may not be coming out as rich if you are using chicken from the store. For more flavor, you need to use an old one. The young ones you get at the store (whole or pieces) are only 2 to 3 months old, and don’t have as much flavor. Same with beef. 36 months will give you the best flavor. My sister in law used to can all… Read more »
At Rivercrest Cottage

I was with you all the way until you threw the veggies in the trees! Why? For chickens? LOL. I’ve made Turkey Carcass Soup since I was in my 20’s and all three of my grown daughters do now. Also, I’ve never had a glass jar bust in the freezer. I put strawberries and other fruit in them and freeze. Loved this post. So many good ideas.

I just recently started saving scraps to boil for broth. It sure did make some tasty broth and now I will try the broth made with chicken and scraps. Do you use any fat from the chicken? My mothers neighbor is very thrifty and I picked up the habit of re-using jars to freeze and store leftovers in. They are so much easier to pop in the dishwasher to cleaner rather than plastic containers. I also use them to store noodles and rice in and anything else I can. She also re-used all her bags that bread and what not… Read more »

I totally agree with you, especially about homemade stock. You can always tell the difference when it’s not used in my chicken and dumplings… or when I don’t use sausage/bacon grease to make biscuits and gravy.


Great tips! Thank you for sharing at Home Sweet Home!


First of all I just have to say I love your blog. I always boil my turkey carcass for soup and it’s amazing how much meat is left even on a carefully cleaned bird. It’s just my hubby & I and it makes a nice little pot of soup for us. I add some onions, celery & carrots when I boil it and after the meat falls off the bones I’ll add some rice or noodles. Whoa! I’m getting hungry for some soup.


Great post, girl! It is so refreshing to read something like this from someone as young as you are! I was born and raised on a farm. We didn’t waste, and our grandparents didn’t waste. Very little food is ever discarded in my home. Leftovers are planned and used. Our winter diet is mostly homemade soup and a side salad. We have a well-stocked pantry and freezer, so frequent trips to the store aren’t necessary. That alone helps to save a lot of money. It’s being frugal as well as being a good steward.

Kathy A.
Thanx for the great post! My first generation Polish mother who was raised during the Depression didn’t waste a thing; but she didn’t save peelings. I still cringe when I think of her drinking the spinach cooking water; she ENJOYED it. She made rhubarb-aid out of stewed rhubarb watered down; she never put in enough sugar to suit me! When my kids were little, I would throw leftovers into a can of Campbell’s alphabet soup (so they knew it started with “storebought” soup); we called it Mystery soup caz you never knew what was gonna be in it; leftover beef… Read more »

I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve done many of these things, and some I’d kind of forgotten about. You motivated me to re-establish those habits.


Glad I read this! For a while there, I was doing some of this, but then life happened. I kind of just forgot about it. We’ve been trying to be very frugal,and I have cut back our grocery budget, but we often feed scraps to the chickens (the veggie scraps anyway). I’ve done bone broth, but I should really get a strainer like that! I’ve got a pasta pot that my husband picked up awhile ago for me, but I haven’t used it, because I always forget it’s there. Thanks for sharing!


I save my scraps (meat & veggie) to use to make broth too. I also make cubes with some of my broth in a ice cube tray, when they are frozen I just pop them into a ziploc bag. Then I can put a few cubes into veggies or even meat (nice to have for pan frying meat) and so much better for you than bullion cubes, etc. Takes a little more effort but I enjoy having that flavor in our foods.

Aletha Oglesby

I am impressed with your creativity in the kitchen. I don’t save as much as you do but I try not to throw food away- it just seems so wasteful and ungrateful, when so many people in the world have so little. You post gives me ideas on how I can do a little better.

Jean |

Tarah, every time I visit your blog I’m amazed at what you two are up to! My southern Grandma would have been soooo proud of you! I try really hard to avoid food waste (and freeze a lot of stuff in jars – can’t throw a good jar away!), but I haven’t take it quite this far with the vegetable peels. I’ve always intended to, never got around to it, but I’m going to give it a go now. I’m one of those anti-plastic people, so I always freeze in glass. Thanks for the inspiration!

Roseann Hampton

I love making homemade stock with leftovers – so much more nutritional than the stuff you buy at the store! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger’s Pit Stop! Roseann from

Iris Nacole
Making a shoe rack and closet storage out an old ladder


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