Let's flashback a couple of years for a moment. Ahh, thanksgiving shopping. Grocery stores filled with carts pushed by distracted drivers, checking their lists twice and circling the store's front 'holiday' display again and again to make sure nothing is missing. If you're like me, you probably did this the day before Thanksgiving. Something about that panic of knowing nothing will be open tomorrow should you forget a crucial ingredient, and the excitement of being there to witness the other shoppers in a frenzy, all part of some secret procrastinator club. Also, of course there are the sales. And the coupons.
I have been couponing since before it was cool. Circa 2007 I was dubbed the 'coupon queen' by those in my life. On a near minimum wage beauty-advisor salary, I couponed and thrifted my way through my first pregnancy. I've come a long way, thankfully, but almost 7 years later I still (and probably always will) clip the Sunday paper. Given, I'm not as crazy dedicated as I used to be, with organized binders and inserts dated and perfectly filed. But understanding the basics of pricing and matching buy one get one free sales to numerous high-value coupons has tremendously helped my budgeting skills.
Recently though, my knowledge of the consumerism 'behind the scenes' if you will, has begun to line up with my common sense and shopping practices. If I can easily buy one bulk bag of flour, a bulk bag of frozen organic chicken breasts, and I always have milk on hand, why am I still wasting energy on weekly circular scanning and $0.25 cent off coupons for big brand condensed gloupy soup, which even at it's cheapest rarely dips below $1 per can (and usually is closer to $2.) Because sappy family commercials convince me that my dishes must include these 'basics'? Because I am nostalgic for the vintage brand labels? Not to mention the ingredients, which I assume I am not alone in just recently questioning labels to this degree. How could we have known not to trust the brands we grew up on? It's a learning process and I struggle constantly with the desire to do what's right and healthy, and to throw my hands up with "I mean, really, it can't be THAT bad?", settling for a quick, conventional dinner.
But the truth is, it's not hard at all to recreate these so-called "essentials" in the kitchen. Popping open a can certainly is easy, but in comparison - mixing some flour and liquid together with a whisk for a few minutes isn't time consuming or 'too much' at all - especially considering that your final product will have less than 5, pronounceable, wholesome ingredients and make you feel just a little proud, at least.
It stores in the fridge for up to a week - and I haven't tried freezing it but I've heard that it works well and makes recipes calling for a "can of condensed soup" a breeze. The texture may slightly alter as with most frozen foods, but since you aren't eating it alone, it shouldn't usually affect the quality of your dish as a whole.
Oh, and my previous recipe for homemade Crockpot Chicken Stock is perfect for making this even more wholesome (and reducing the sodium.)
I used my recent batch in my Homemade Chicken Pot Pie that I have been making for 10+ years and for the first time decided to try it from scratch. The verdict is in and DIY in the kitchen is definitely worth my while.
Homemade Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the milk. Bring to a boil. In a separate bowl or cup, combine remaining 1 cup milk with flour and seasoning . Whisk until smooth.
Add flour mixture to low-boiling broth mixture, reduce heat to low-medium, and whisk constantly until desired texture is reached. If you leave this unattended or keep the heat too high, it will scorch on the bottom. When desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and use immediately or store in fridge for up to a week.