How to Make Broth For (Almost) Free

Ever since student loan repayment began, I’ve been pretty good at being frugal. But I don’t know why that surprises me. Although I wasn’t a good saver growing up, being cheap is basically in my DNA.

My Grandpa Bill is basically the essence of frugality. 

Even once his FIVE BOYS left the house, he maintained a steady lifestyle of never over-spending on himself (but always being generous with others, of course.)

When he had five hungry monsters under his roof, it made sense to tell them that they had to eat the fat on their meat if they wanted seconds and to add lawn chairs into the back of the station wagon so they could all make the trip to the beach.

But when he decided it was a good idea to collect all of the toilet paper that someone had wrapped his car with and turn that into next month’s stash for him and Grandma…that’s the kind of cheap we’re talking about.

But this post isn’t about Grandpa. It’s about you. 

You might be in the January slump and:

A. You just spent one billion dollars on Christmas presents and now you’re making it your New Year’s Resolution to actually start a savings account. 


B. You need some soup because eating salad just makes you feel colder and your favorite blanket went missing and now you need something to help you keep it together. 

Or more than likely…both! 

So I’m going to show you how to make your own broth for (basically) free out of scraps from other meals you’ve made! 

Some Supplies

What to Cook Your Broth In

If you have a stock pot, crock pot, instant pot, dutch oven, or french oven…you’ll be set. 

Personally, I used a stock pot and an instant pot so those are the ones I’m going to focus on. 

You’ll also need a strainer.

What Scraps to Make Your Broth From

I want you to be able to make this broth out of scraps that you’ll usually have just from cooking other things so here are the items I’d suggest washing and saving in a plastic bag in the freezer:

  • Chicken Bones (I usually grab a rotisserie chicken once a month for this specific reason)
  • Onion Ends and Skin
  • Broccoli Stems
  • Aging Lettuce
  • Celery Ends
  • Wrinkled Tomatoes
  • Winter Squash Hull
  • Scallion Tips and Greens
  • Carrot Tops and Peels
  • Bell Pepper tops and innards
  • Scallion ends
  • Mushroom Stems
  • Corn Cobs
  • Beet Greens

There are a few veggies you’ll probably want to avoid adding to your stash because they’re particularly potent and might make your broth a little too strong:

  • Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Artichokes

To be clear, we also don’t want to include vegetables that are actually spoiled. If they’re a little past their prime, that’s fine, but mold is not fine.

Don’t eat mold. Repeat after me. “I won’t eat mold.”

Additional Flavors and Supplies

I always add in:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar (this helps extract some additional nutrients from your scraps)
  • Salt
  • Peppercorns
  • Bay Leaf

Some things you can add in based on whether or not you have them:

  • Parsley (dried or fresh)
  • Garlic (dried or fresh)
  • Oregano
  • Basil

What to Do

1.Gather Your Scraps and Keep Them in the Freezer Until You’re Ready to Use Them

2. Dump Your Scraps in a Pot (or Two if You Have a Lot)

If you’re using an instant pot, I find it helpful to leave the trivet in the bottom to help you pull out the scraps when you’re done.

3. Add Your Seasonings and ACV

I like to add about 1 TB of Apple Cider Vinegar, 10 peppercorns, and 1 or 2 tsp of any other dried seasonings.

4. Fill your pot up with water just over the level of your scraps.

If your pot has less than an inch above the top or is above the max fill line in the instant pot, take some of your scraps out or else it might boil over.

5. Turn Up the Heat!

If you’re using a pot, heat on high until boiling, then simmer for 30 minutes to two hours. If you’re only making veggie broth, stay on the 30-60 minutes end of things. If you’re making chicken broth, feel free to let it cook for longer.

If you’re using an instant pot, seal it, turn on high heat, and cook for 20 minutes to three hours. Again, with veggies you’ll want to stick to a lower cook time. If you can leave your chicken broth to cook for more than two hours, you get some really great flavoring.

6. Allow broth to cool slightly and strain into plastic cups. Place those cups in the freezer.

You’ll want to leave them over night. It usually takes a minimum of 6 hours for mine to freeze completely.

It’s helpful if you figure out how many measured cups your cups hold.

Yep. That’s a whole duck in the back of my freezer.

7. Squeeze the frozen broth into freezer bags.

You’ll likely need to run them under warm water to squeeze them out.

I’d definitely suggest labeling them with the type of broth, a measurement of how much is in each broth cube, and the date you made it.

And that’s that! Now you have free broth ready for you whenever you want.

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