Top view of chicken soup -  broth on wooden table with vegetable.

Can you make stock for free from takeaway leftovers?

Left over takeaway
Left over takeaway

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have that busy day where you really don’t have time to cook, or you just wanted one less thing to have to do, yet you still get to make some fresh stock for a soup, gravy or something else that is the epitome of health? Sounds like a contradiction, right? That can’t happen…. can it?!!!

Inspired by DIY stock ideas, I figured out a way, and it’s the simplest thing you can imagine. You get to:

  • recycle food instead of throwing it out
  • Add flavour and substance to your meals
  • Have fresh stock available whenever you need it
  • Add liquid nutrition to your meals, even if it’s just in place of the water for instant gravy. Each meal can get a nutrition lift

All with barely any effort. The method is just the four following steps:

Stock tub
Stock tub
  1. Pick off leftovers and put them into a tub. I keep old ice cream tubs in the freezer for stock ingredients. Anytime I have something to add, it goes in the tub, which goes back in the freezer. This includes bones, meat, and vegetables. Remove the stuff you don’t want, like the ends of vegetables, chips, and other starchy vegetables.
  2. When you have enough ingredients, you can make the stock. Everyone uses a giant pot, but I improved on this or just got properly lazy. I have a slow cooker, and it’s the perfect thing. It’s the biggest pot I have and is designed to cook food safely for 8-12 hours without ruining it. I literally just pop the frozen ingredients in the stock pot. Pout enough enough water to cover it, often more, since it will lose some. Add herbs and a bouquet of garnish if I have anything. I’ve got some dried bay leaves, thyme, that sort of thing. Then I go to work.
  3. When I come home, I only have to transfer the ingredients to the compost bin with a slotted spoon and pour the liquid into containers for freezing. If it’s cold outside, I put the containers outside to cool them down quickly before freezing.
  4. I found some cheap freezer labels to make it quick and easy to remember what the heck these things are weeks and months later.

That’s it. I don’t:

  • Add yet more hours to get something done. The hard part is done by the cooker when I am at work,
  • Use expensive ingredients; it’s basically free using ingredients you normally throw out.
  • I have to plan my day around it. The only critical time is afterwards, so I must pick a day when I will have half an hour or so to empty the pot into the containers and label and cool them. That just means an evening I’m around and there is something good on TV or the radio 🙂

My stock is not meant to be professional. It is cloudy, and I’ll work on that. Sometimes, there is a little too much fat in it. I can work on that, too, but the amount of effort I put in is really tiny. Now, I have stores of fresh, homemade stock I can use for anything I want.

It doesn’t just help me, my wife who does not particularly like cooking now makes soups regularly because she loves the freshness of the stock and it’s right there for her.

It’s really easy to make and costs me literally nothing because my ingredients were to be thrown away. Now that I have so much, I have come up with more uses for stock, and I have to say it has opened my eyes up to the world of flavours fresh stock can bring.

My example is based on a KFC meal with chicken leftovers, but I’ve used it on all sorts of takeaways, and now I even use it after restaurant meals, especially if there are leftover bones. I know I’m starting to geek out with it, aren’t I 🙂

Have you got any ideas of what I could do with the stock or an even better way of making it? I am always looking for ways to do things that little better.

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