How to Use a Head of Cabbage Without Wasting Anything

One of the easiest and most effective ways to lower your grocery bills is to buy items from the farmers market.

The price of oversized zucchini often drops to under $1.00 each at the height of the season. I have seen huge heads of cabbage and cauliflower for a couple of dollars. Likewise, pumpkins and other winter squash can be found at bargain prices when they are in-season.

When you purchase large, oversized vegetables, it allows you to plan several dishes using that one plant and feed your family delicious, healthy food. The end result will be a lower overall grocery budget.

This post is sponsored by Garden Spot Vegetable Farm. Located in Princeville, Illinois, owner, Jim Buckley and his family, cultivate 34 acres of vegetables and 375 fruit trees. Garden Spot is a no-spray farm, offering a variety of CSA packages. Check their Facebook page for current programs and options for available produce.

Waste Not, Want Not

The old saying, “Waste not, want not” certainly applies in my life. Our family has a long-standing 3% food waste goal. So, tracking (and using) every single item that comes into the house is vital to me.

Add to this the fact that I am currently feeding my family of four for just $50 a week, by planning my weekly menu around the items I receive each week in our CSA box.

How many dishes can I make with one head of cabbage?

I can feed my family of six for just a few dollars a day, by creating six recipes with just one head of cabbage – for under $20 for everything!

Yes, you read that correctly!

I calculated the cost of each recipe, using the prices that I paid for the ingredients. When it was all added up, I had made enough food to feed my family supper for an entire week for under $20!

I am about to show you how to use every single scrap of this head of cabbage to make a large pot of homemade scrap veggie broth and five main dish recipes.

Buckle up! We’re off and running!

This one, single head of cabbage was at the farmers market for just $2.00. It weighed in at exactly 7 pounds. This means that the price was just 29¢ per pound. I will use this calculation in the cost of each dish.

In this post, I’ll show you how to use one, large head of cabbage to make six recipes (and not waste one, single part of the plant.) I’ll even throw in a cost analysis for each recipe.

Ready? Let’s go!

Separate the cabbage into its usable parts by following these three simple steps.

  1. First, remove 6-8 of the outer leaves. I just slice the very bottom of the cabbage and incise the bottom of the ribs (cutting toward the middle of the core). This will release the outermost leaves. Reserve these large leaves for later use.
  2. Cut the head of cabbage into fourths. Carefully, remove and save the core for use in homemade vegetable broth.
  3. Using a sharp knife, slice each of the cabbage quarters into even strips. Yes, you can use a grater if you want finer pieces, but I very rarely do. I find it simple and pretty effective just to try to get the slices thin and it’s good enough for us.

In the photo, I’ve shown you all three parts of the now deconstructed head of cabbage: The larger, outer leaves (for stuffed cabbage rolls), the core (for vegetable broth), and sliced cabbage (for 4 main dishes).

This head of cabbage filled my 30 cup Rubbermaid container completely to the top! This will easily allow me to make five recipes this week, all featuring my amazingly huge head of cabbage.

Recipe #1: Homemade vegetable broth

Ingredients: Vegetable scraps, herb scraps, and water
Total Cost: Under $1.00 for 6-8 cups of broth

Although cabbage is a strong flavor and some veggie broth enthusiasts will tell you not to add it to the base, I do it all the time. Granted, a little goes a long way. But, I have never had a problem with my broth being overloaded with a cabbage flavor or odor.

I have a hard time assigning a cost to this recipe, since for the most part you create it using vegetable and herb scraps that you would have thrown out anyway. However, for the sake of writing this post, I decided that a cost of “under $1.00” was fair.

You’ll find step-by-step instructions for making homemade broth, here. This broth will provide the base for cabbage soup.

Recipe #2: Vegetarian Cabbage Soup

Ingredients: Veggie broth, onions, garlic, potatoes, cabbage, spices. (tomato and garnished with fried noodles). Total Cost: $ 3.50

The Stingy Vegan is my kind of girl! She shops like I do, concentrating on finding in-season fruits and vegetables at cheap prices and then combining them to produce mind-blowing, great-tasting food for just pennies! She provides detailed price breakdowns for all the recipes on her website. The Stingy Vegan can come hang with me any day of the week!

You’ll love this simple cabbage soup with white beans and the perfect blend of spices. She used savoy cabbage, but I (of course) used my huge, green cabbage. I also subbed pinto beans for the white variety. I bought 96 pounds of pinto beans in February when I found them on closeout at SAMS for 29¢ a pound.

Using homemade veggie broth lowers the cost. I doubled the beans, added a tomato, and garnished my soup with fried noodles from our trip to the Amish bulk food store. Leftovers are even more yummy the second day.

Recipe #3: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients: Cabbage leaves, lentils, tomato puree, rice, spices.
Total Cost: $3.25 for 12 rolls

The outer leaves of the cabbage are used for this recipe. I cut the very large leaves in half and use them to make two rolls. Foregoing the quinoa, I stuff these rolls with rice and lentils. They can be baked in the oven for an hour at 350 or in the crockpot on “high” for 5 hours or “low” for 8 hours.

Recipe #4: Layered Cabbage and Rice Casserole

Ingredients: Leftover rice, homemade marinara sauce, cabbage, and spices.
Total cost: $3.00

No time to make cabbage rolls? This crockpot layered cabbage and rice casserole is super easy and is a lot like deconstructed cabbage rolls. By using leftover rice and homemade marinara sauce, you can assemble this dish in literally minutes. It fills my 4-quart crockpot quite nicely. Layer the ingredients, throw on the lid, and turn the dial to “high” for 4 hours or “low” for 7 hours. Walk in the door after work to find supper ready and waiting.

Recipe #5: Hot Sausage and Cabbage Stir Fry

Ingredients: Vegan sausage, cabbage, garlic, spices, homemade tortillas
Total Cost: $4.25

I was skeptical about this recipe when I first saw it. However, I was pleasantly surprised by both the taste and texture. It was a winner, for us. I didn’t have any mushrooms on hand. So, I skipped them.

I very rarely buy any processed products (even vegan ones). However, I did have two vegan sausages that I bought on clearance from Kroger, so I added them to the pan. It did add flavor, but it also raised the overall cost of preparing this dish. In retrospect, I do think adding some crumbled firm tofu would be a tasty and more economical alternative, rather than using processed meat products.

Recipe #6: Mexican Cabbage

Ingredients: Onion, Cabbage, Tomato Sauce, Tomato Paste, Jalapeno Pepper, Corn, Black Beans, Spices
Total Cost: $3.00

The addition of black beans not only makes this recipe even higher in fiber and protein, it also ensures this dish is very filling. I added twice the suggested amount of black beans and subbed one finely chopped jalapeno pepper for the chopped chilies.

I keep the cost of beans low by cooking a big pot of dried beans a couple of times a week in my pressure cooker and then freezing extras in four-cup increments.

Total Cost of All Six Recipes = $18.00

That is an unbelievably low cost for five main-dish recipes and two quarts of homemade vegetable broth. Bear in mind that the soup lasted us for two meals and some of us had leftovers from two of the recipes for lunch the next day.

In essence, we are looking at a week of dinners for a family of six for about $20.00!

Clearly, planning your menu around fresh, natural, low-cost ingredients not only feeds your family healthy food, but also lowers your grocery budget substantially.

Bonus Recipes

Need more ideas or have some leftover cabbage? Here are some ideas for tasty salads and side dishes.

No-oil Cabbage Coleslaw

I like my coleslaw with a vinegar based dressing and a splash of flavor and sweetness. But, I didn’t want the calories of added oil. I looked all over and couldn’t find what I wanted. So, I created a new recipe, featuring all the flavor of fresh veggies and none of the added fat.

Roasted Rainbow Vegetables

Sliced paper thin and then sprinkled with a mixture of herbs and a little nutritional yeast, these colorful vegetables roast in about 30 minutes in the oven. Serve it as a side dish or over the top of pasta, rice, or even baked potatoes.

2 thoughts on “How to Use a Head of Cabbage Without Wasting Anything”

  1. I am thankful for locating the three of you.
    I grew up in the South. I worked for WW a few years ago. I still maintain some of the learned behavior to change my eating.
    At 71 yrs old I’m learning how to cook without Frying.
    Your information is very helpful to me.
    God Bless You and Yours


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