As a follow up on my post on Making The Most of my $.20/lb Chicken, I wanted to share how I made a nice pot of chicken noodle soup almost for free.
After we had finished cutting off chunks of chicken for different meals that we made, I put all of the bones (along with the bits of meat I couldn't quite cut off) into my stockpot and simmered them with onion skins and carrot peels for a few hours. By this time the last bits of meat had fallen off of the bone.
I strained the broth off and packaged it into a few re-used plastic food containers. I picked through the bones for the last little bits of meat. I packaged that into another container and put it all in the freezer to make soup later.
Last night I pulled the containers out of the freezer to thaw. Today I scooped the fat from the top of the containers and dumped the broth into my slow cooker. I added the chicken pieces.
During one grocery shopping trip, I got a coupon for a free 1 lb bag of baby carrots (I got organic ones since the coupon didn't have any restrictions printed on it). I used about 1/4 of the bag cut into coins.
The only ingredient (besides seasonings) that I paid for was the onion. I paid $.11 a pound at Aldi by stocking up when they were selling 3 lb bags for 3 for $1. I used about 1/2 an onion. I sauteed this in a little bit of vegetable oil before adding it to the slow cooker.
This cooked on low heat for several hours. When I make soup for dinner, I usually get everything going while I make my breakfast and let it cook all day.
For this soup, I added the pasta about 20 minutes before we were ready to eat. Any sooner and it would get way too soggy. I used bits of different kinds of pasta: broken spaghetti or fettucini noodles, or bits of pasta that weren't enough for a meal, but were too much to throw away.
At the same time that I added my pasta, I added seasonings. Tonight it was simply a bit of salt, garlic powder (free from a previous employer of Trucker's), a pinch of cayenne pepper and some Italian seasoning blend. Before serving, I ground some black pepper and it was done. It turned out pretty good. I added a bit too much cayenne pepper (I admit, I accidentally added more than a pinch), but it was okay since Trucker's had a bit of a cold. Sinus busting power soup!
I love that all told, this soup cost around $.25 including seasonings for 4 meal-sized servings of soup. It was a perfect meal with some garlic toast made from bread I got for free (job benefit of being a baker!)
What are your favorite practically free meals?
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