Save Your Scraps! Frugal Vegetable Stock Recipe

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We all love spending less money at the grocery store, right!? Our frugal pack has cut our grocery spending by 33% this year (and 60% over four years) by changing how we shop! But, instead of resting on this improvement, we are still looking for ways to frugalize our grocery bill and eat delicious, healthy, vitamin packed food. Lo and behold, this month we finally tried cooking a frugal staple: vegetable stock! It was so scrumptious! We wanted to share our vegetable stock recipe with you readers!

Has anyone else ever been intimidated by making vegetable broth? I’d read the benefits of it, but didn’t know if it was worth the hassle.

I rarely buy veggie stock and instead just cook with water and spices. I honestly didn’t think it would add much to my food. But I was WRONG! This is seriously, one of the most transformational kitchen discoveries we’ve made this year. I’ll put this as third on the list. Wow, I really do doubt internet strangers a lot.

(This post may include affiliate links, see my disclosures here.)

Since starting this blog, I finally did the millennial thing, and joined Instagram and Twitter (I’d love it if you followed me!). I happened to follow some people trying to live the zero waste lifestyle, and I’ve been eying their awesome lifestyle practices on the reg now. I love shopping the bulk aisle and using my reusable containers. Unfortunately I also love to shop at Aldi, which packages EVERYTHING! My solace in shopping at Aldi is that they definitely have less produce waste since you can’t pick and choose through all the items. So, more packaging – less food waste. Someday I’ll try to run through the money and environmental cost comparison.

But getting to the point, those zero waste people were also showing mason jars and Pyrex filled with vegetable scraps to be turned into broth. Finally, I had the visual inspiration to try making it myself. (Also frugal me couldn’t bring myself to buying broth by the can…those things are expensive!

So, we diligently started saving our vegetable scraps, and last Sunday we dove in headfirst and made our first batch of vegetable broth. Using that broth we made an awesome vegetable noodle soup with butternut squash, zucchini, peppers, onion, celery, and carrots! But that’s enough jibber-jabber, on to the recipe.

Vegetable Stock Recipe

Store up vegetable scraps in freezer save container. We used a large pyrex storage container and just added scraps as we produced them. Instead of going into the compost pile, vegetable scraps went into the freezer. We made sure the vegetables we froze were:

  • Washed thoroughly with no dirt (basically in edible condition, just not the parts of veggies you eat)
  • Mold free
  • Completely dry

The vegetables that we used included:

Vegetable scraps (post vegetable stock recipe)
Vegetable scraps (post vegetable stock recipe)


  • Onion tops and bottoms
  • Celery tops and bottoms
  • Carrot ends and greens
  • Butternut squash peels
  • Whole Garlic Cloves (2)
  • Broccoli Stems
  • Cabbage Stem
  • Pepper pith (the white part on the inside of a pepper) and seeds/stem


  • Thyme
  • Dried Bay Leaves
  • Dried Oregano (from our garden!)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

To make the frugal vegetable stock from scraps:

  1. Add vegetable scraps to large pot (we used a 6 qt. pot)
  2. Fill pot with water, leaving 1″ room
  3. Place pot on stove and set head to medium-high
  4. Add spices
  5. Once the mixture is boiling, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Let cook for 1-3 hours.
  6. Using a colander strain out vegetables and large spices. Voila! Broth!
  7. If desired pass mixture through a cheesecloth to fully strain vegetable broth.

Use the frugal vegetable stock in place of water or whenever broth is called for in a recipe!

When I read online recipes they recommended adding in whole onions, carrots, and celery, in addition to the scraps! By stockpiling a bunch of vegetable scraps (we probably had 4 loose cups) we didn’t need to add any vegetables

Bonus Recipe(ish) – Frugal Vegetable Noodle Soup

We immediately made a giant pot of vegetable, lentil, noodle soup after making the frugal vegetable stock! The soup called for:

Frugal vegetable soup! Learn how to make frugal vegetable stock recipe
Frugal vegetable, noodle, lentil soup! (Forgive me, I’m not a food blogger!)
  • 1 frugal vegetable stock recipe (about 4 quarts)
  • 2 tbs oil (we used vegetable oil)
  • 3 Onions
  • 4 Carrots
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups pasta (we used penne noodles)
  • Top with water to fill pot
  • Add spices (thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger, etc.)

We sautéed the onions in the oil, then added the remaining veggies and sautéed for 20 minutes before adding the vegetable stock recipe (we just strained it directly into the soup pot to save on dishes). We cooked this for a long time and added the noodles at the end, so they wouldn’t be a pile of mushy noodles.

The whole pot of soup cost us $5 in ingredients and spices total! We froze two quart size mason jars of soup to bust out this winter when we get sick and don’t want to cook. (I LOVE freezing food in mason jars. It makes food storage so simple.) We got 8 large servings out of the pot of soup, so less than $1/meal. The butternut squash was a great addition to thicken up the soup!

Since making the first vegetable stock batch, we’ve made a second (in 5 days), and we are storing vegetable scraps for the next batch! I think this frugal vegetable stock recipe will become a cold weather staple in our house!

This definitely goes to show, that challenging everything will lead to new discoveries!

What’s your favorite frugal recipe? Have you ever made vegetable stock? Let me know if you try it out and come up with a better recipe!


4 comments on “Save Your Scraps! Frugal Vegetable Stock Recipe”

  1. Thanks for sharing!

    Just curious, how much time did you spend to complete all the steps (the stock, the soup, anything else)?

    1. Reply

      Good question! 5 minutes hands on time for making the broth. It was super simple! But we let it cook for 2 hours or so.

      Then, the soup involved 20 minutes of hands on time at the start. Mostly chopping vegetables then stirring occasionally as they were cooked in the oil. I let it cook for 2 hours, and stirred every 20-30 minutes. Then ten more minutes of hands on time at the end to add the noodles and clean up.

  2. I haven’t tried this, although we’re good about making chicken broth with whatever is leftover from a whole chicken after we’ve enjoyed it.

    Our best frugal hint is that after Jon’s cooked meats in the slow cooker, he uses whatever leftover liquid to cook dried beans. It adds great flavor and means a lot less waste.

    1. Reply

      Oh, that’s a great trick! We don’t eat meat now at home, but I will definitely mention it to my best friend who loves her slow cooker. I used to make chicken broth, but had never dove into the vegetable version! The flavor is shockingly similar.

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