I made a discovery just recently. One I was very excited about, because simple things give me the most excitement. Sometimes it's a bit silly, but oh well. What can I say? I'm very easy to please!
My discovery was about making homemade chicken stock. Making my own stock was always something that seemed like a long and involved process if you read recipe books written by purists who have deep beliefs about these things. Since I'm a simple, humble housewife and hold no such lofty or grand ideals about making stock I have the freedom to bumble about until I find something that works. So in my humble bumblings I have found that if you use the carcass of a roasted, completely picked over chook, the stock is clear and has none of that scum that appears with raw carcasses. All of a sudden something destined for the bin becomes precious, and stock-making is oh so simple!
Along with my roasted, otherwise useless carcass, I add the peelings from carrots and the ends from my onions, and the tops off the celery. Again, all things that would've gone into the bin, if not for making stock. If I don't have one or some of those ingredients then I simply don't put it in. Sometimes, I only have the carcass. No biggie. I put a lot of water in with that stuff and I simmer it through the evening. Before I head to bed I strain out the 'stuff' and voila, you have stock ready for the fridge.
If you don't have time the night you've roasted your chook, just throw it in the freezer (in a freezer bag or something similar) and do it one night when you do have time.
I absolutely love homemade stock in my soups and sauces. Part of that affection is because there are no additives or preservatives in what I do at home. The other part, of course, is that real stock tastes so much nicer than stock powder or cubes!
This is also where menu planning comes in very useful. If I am planning to have soup one night, I will usually plan a roast chicken dinner sometime in the days beforehand. Since we're having roast chook this weekend......I wonder what soup we'll eat this coming week. Hmmmmm.