Do you ever buy those pre-cooked chickens at the grocery store for a quick, easy and healthy dinner during the week?
Pre-cooked chickens are a great option when you want to eat well without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Add a veggie or two as a side dish, maybe a starch like potatoes or brown rice and a healthy meal is thrown together in minutes.
Quick. Easy. Healthy. My kind of eating.
Do you want to know another thing I buy a lot of? Chicken stock. I buy it in bulk at Costco, because it’s one of the few pantry staples my family goes through regularly.
For years, I bought pre-cooked chickens, then threw away the carcass. I’d buy chicken stock containers and keep them in the pantry for quick-cooking meals.
One day as I had a chicken carcass sitting on my countertop that was ready to be tossed in the trash, I reached for a carton of chicken stock to add to my brown rice dish. I looked at the carton with a beautiful chicken and vegetables on it and though about the ingredients that had gone into making it.
That’s when the lightbulb moment went off. Why buy two parts of the chicken when you can buy one and make the most of it? I could buy a pre-cooked chicken, then turn it into chicken stock for later in the week.
But I didn’t really have time that week to sit around the house for hours while the stovetop was on and my stock is bubbling away. You probably don’t have that leisurely time to play around in your kitchen during the the day either.
So what did I do?
I tossed all the ingredients in my crock pot, let it go for a few hours, and had the easiest and most delicious homemade chicken stock in just a few hours.
Here’s how I did it – and you can too:
How to Make Crock Pot Chicken Stock
Step 1: Place full chicken carcass in your crock pot.
Step 2: Add a few aromatic vegetables, like celery, onion, carrots, and garlic.
Step 3: Add fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, or sage. Tie the stems together to create a sachet for easy removal later.
Step 4: Fill the crock pot with water.
Step 5: Turn your crock pot on low and cook for at least eight hours. You can let it go for longer – the longer it goes – the more flavorful your stock will be!
Step 6: Turn the heat off and allow to cool for a few hours so you don’t burn yourself.
Step 7: Strain the stock using a colander to remove the bones, vegetables, and herbs.
Step 8: Pour into airtight containers like canning jars, plastic bowls with lids, or freezer bags for longer storage. You can also freeze the stock into ice cube trays for smaller servings and an easy addition to a meal. Homemade crock pot stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week and in the freezer for up to six months.
Homemade crock pot chicken stock is an easy addition to soups and as a flavor addition to cooking up whole grains like brown rice or quinoa during the week.
There are two other really great things about using your crockpot to stretch ingredients:
1. If you aren’t ready to use your leftover chicken bones right away, you can put them in a sealable bag and place them in the freezer until you have some time to prepare your crock pot stock. (Bonus points for adding your leftover vegetable cuttings and peelings as you accumulate them)
2. You can create homemade crock pot stock using any bones that you have on hand from leftover meals. Try this recipe with beef, lamb, or even fish bones if you have them lying around. If you’re a vegetarian, you can even make vegetable stock with leftover veggies – you’ll just need less time for the stock to cook up.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to literally watch your stock pot boil, you can still reap the healthy benefits of homemade chicken stock.
Have you had a lightbulb moment for a more efficient and practical way to eat or prepare healthy meals recently? Share your experience in the comments below!