Save Money with a Local, Real Food Fat

how to render lard Lard gets a bad rap, but it's a great cooking fat when you get it from pastured pigs. You just have to learn how to render it. The good news is, the rendering process isn't complicated or difficult to do. Here's some background on lard and a tutorial to render it yourself.


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How to Make Chicken Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker

Making bone broth is a great way to get more nutrients, save money, and make meals that taste delicious. Good news is, it's super easy to do in a slow cooker or Crock Pot! You get to go about your day while a yummy pot of broth simmers away on your counter.


Slow Cooker Chicken Bone Broth



Bones from one chicken

Assorted broth veggies like celery, carrot, onion, garlic, and herbs (whatever you have is fine)*

12 black peppercorns

Salt (to taste, I probably use about a teaspoon)

Splash of apple cider vinegar




  1. Add all ingredients to your slow cooker with enough water to cover everything. Put on lid and cook on low for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. Once broth is done, turn off slow cooker and allow broth to cool a bit. Then, strain the broth into jars or containers to remove solids. Store broth in the refrigerator if you want to use it within the next few days or the freezer to save for later.

*Note: I keep a bag in my freezer for storing vegetable scraps like onion peels, carrot ends, and celery ends. Then, whenever I make broth, I can just go in my freezer and toss some of these veggies in the slow cooker. This saves money and time. Other scraps you can keep in this bag include garlic ends, asparagus ends, ginger peels, and fresh herbs that you won't be able to use up before they go bad. Don't include cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower because they can make things a little stinky.

Slow Cooker Stock

I'm a huge fan of making your own stock. Vegetable, chicken, or otherwise, it's a great way to save money and inject meals with extra nutrition and flavor. Up until a couple weeks ago, I always made my stock in a large pot on the stove top. I even wrote a post about it. However, I have recently been converted to a new method: making stock in the slow cooker. It's easier, and you don't have to worry about baby sitting a pot or things boiling over. crockpot

As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, I collect veggies scraps as I cook meals and add them to a bag in the freezer until it's stock making time. Things like the ends of onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and asparagus all stay snuggled up in my freezer, along with fresh herbs that were about to spoil, waiting for me to use them. Just stay away from stinky veggies like broccoli or cabbage. Of course you can make your stock with fresh ingredients as well, but the frozen scrap collector version makes me feel much more savvy. I mean, you're basically getting something for nothing. What would have been compost or trash becomes food! Every time I make stock I get super excited about this fact and always tell Jasen about how cool it is. He plays along. :)

To make your stock, simply add your chicken carcass (if using) and your veggies until the slow cooker is full, then toss in a couple bay leaves and salt to taste. I usually do 1 teaspoon of salt, but, remember, you can always add salt when you cook with the stock later, so better to add too little rather than too much here. Pour in enough water to cover everything, put on the lid, and then cook on low for 8-24 hours. I like to do this right after our chicken dinner and let it go over night. It's always nice to wake up to a house that smells like soup.


Filter your stock using a fine mesh strainer or unbleached coffee filter. You can then refrigerate your stock if you'll be using  it soon, or freeze it for later. I've been freezing mine in jars for easy and plastic free storage.


Note: These jars were refrigerated. When freezing, be sure to leave plenty of room for expansion.

You can use your stock to make soup (obviously) or in any recipe that calls for it. It can also be used instead of water when cooking rice or other grains to add extra flavor.

Do you have any money-saving cooking tips? Leave them in the comments below!

Autumn Harvest Slow-Cooker Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfast options around due to it's whole grain status and fiber content. However, this nutrition superstar can quickly loose its sparkle when its loaded up with lots of sugar (even the brown variety) and tons of butter, or, even worse, processed to cook in a few minutes and flavored with chemicals. Delicious. Many people shy away from steel cut oats because of the long cooking time (30-40 minutes), but I have a solution to this problem that might surprise you: a slow-cooker. Suddenly, a dish that many consider to be a hassle becomes a set-it-and-forget-it convenience food that leaves your house smelling amazing when you wake up in the morning.

Autumn Harvest Slow-Cooker Oatmeal

makes 4-6 servings


1 cup steel cut oats

4 small cooking pears (or apples if you prefer), about 1.5 pounds, chopped

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup raisins

3, 1-inch pieces of cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves

4 cups water


1. Add all ingredients to slow-cooker and mix to distribute spices. The oats tend to sink while the cranberries float, but that's ok.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, depending on how thick you like your oatmeal. I usually do closer to the 10 hours.

3. Remove cinnamon sticks and serve straight from the slow cooker for an easy family breakfast. Add toppings if you like. Ground cinnamon, chopped pecans or walnuts, hulled pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup are all great options. A little butter is ok too. Just choose organic butter from grass fed cows and don't overdo it. One small pat can go a long way.

4. Refrigerate leftovers to enjoy later. Since I'm cooking for one, these can last me a week. Oatmeal can gel a bit in the fridge so, when reheating, add a little warm water. This and a some mixing should return your oatmeal to the proper consistency.

What other healthy, whole foods do you shy away from because of the time commitment?