Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trash Chili

One of my favorite practically free meals is Trash Chili. Don't let the name gross you out; it's actually a tasty meal.

I have a half gallon container in the freezer. Whenever I have a bit of food that would go well in chili, I toss it in. If I have a bit of leftover pasta, in it goes. I save  bits of tomatoes (fresh, stewed, diced, however), onions, beans, and peppers. I also save small amounts of leftover cooked ground beef. If something is going to go bad in the refrigerator before I can use it, I cut it into appropriately sized pieces and put it in the freezer. When I use a jar of tomato sauce, I rinse it out with a little water and dump the rinse water into the container. Once it is full, I make chili.

I pull the container out of the freezer the day before so it can thaw completely. Before I head out for the day, I dump it all into the slow cooker. I add whatever it is lacking. If it is a little too thin, I add a can of tomato paste. If it's bland, I add some jalapenos. I season with whatever it needs: hot sauce, chili powder, oregano. I let it cook on low for 6-8 hours.

A few weeks ago, I made some cornbread that was really crumbly. Utter fail. Rather than throw it away, I crumbled it into a container and placed in the freezer. When I have chili, I can add a bit to the top shortly before serving.

A batch of Trash Chili costs $.50-$1.50 depending on what is lacking. It makes enough for around four meals for two, bringing the cost of each meal to as little as 6c. Most of the ingredients would have been thrown away otherwise. I reduce my contributions to the landfill and I save money.

07/21/2013: Update: Today I made a big batch of trash chili in the crock pot. I had lots of dehydrated veggies in the pantry so I decided to add some of them to the batch. I dumped them in dry and let them rehydrate during cooking. I didn't add any extra water to the chili. Usually, since I use the tomato sauce jar "rinse water" as the liquid in my chili, it is usually a little on the thin side. With the dehydrated veggies rehydrating in the chili, it thickened up perfectly.

I call it Trash Chili. My friend calls it Feral Soup. What do you call it?

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  1. What a good idea! I try to keep a "soup bucket" in the freezer- anything that would go well in a chicken stock type soup. The ends to veggies (that the chickens wont eat), bones (from the chickens), etc. When I have enough bones I will make a broth (and add in what is lacking) and can the broth. We always have chicken broth on hand and like your chili, it is basically free (especially if we have enough veggie scraps). I will have to try your trash chili idea as well. Especially since I don't add pasta and the likes to the broth, now I can save it for chili! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I love your trash chili - what a great money saver. I've been using dehydrated veggies from my pantry in my 'never-ending soup' that I've been making for a weeks' worth of hot soup lunches for cold-weather comfort. It works beautifully rehydrating right there in the soup pot. Thanks for sharing this post, I loved it. (visiting from The Homesteaders Hop)

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  3. Great Idea! I would call is delicious! I will try this over the weekend. Will be making crockpot meals for the week and I am going to add this into the rotation. Thanks! cj

    1. Thanks! It really is a yummy meal. And since it uses stuff that would otherwise go to waste, it's practically free!


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