Part 1 – Why I Love Me Some Whole Chickens
I cannot tell you how many people I have talked with that won’t use a whole chicken. Either they fear it, or feel grossed out by it. I am here to say, “Don’t be a chicken with the whole chicken”. Somewhere along my frugal, whole food journey, I discovered the glory of the humble whole chicken. Using whole chickens is now one of my favorite ways to save time and money in the kitchen.
It’s such a critical part of my Dinner for a Dollar journey that I am creating a 3-part blog series to share with you! This is Part 1 – Sharing why I love whole chickens so much!!! Part 2 will cover how to actually cook a whole chicken and Part 3 will cover how to use the bones to make your own broth and save some major money.
So, what is so great about a whole chicken? Seriously – how can I care so much about this???
#1 reason that I love whole chickens is that they are huge money savers.
1 whole chicken can yield enough meat for 2-3 meals for our family PLUS enough bones to make a batch of bone broth or chicken stock. That means it serves as a base for 3-4 meals. Talk about a meat that can STREEEEEETCH your dollar!!!!!
The first question you are probably asking is,
“How on earth do you get a whole chicken to stretch 2-3 meals for a family of 6 without everyone starving to death???”
The answer?? I make meat part of the meal – not the main meal. I portion about 2 cups of chicken to serve as a part of a complete meal for our family. Depending on the size of the chicken, this yields enough for either 2 or 3 meals.
What types of meals can I serve my family with 2 c of chicken? Lots actually!!! I serve: tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, salads, soups, loaded baked potatoes, fried rice, sandwiches, and casseroles. Within each of these types of meals, I can season them several ways or serve them with different veggies or sides – creating significant variety for my family – so they don’t ever feel like they are eating the same thing all the time.
To round these meals out and make them more filling, I simply serve more vegetables and don’t forget to add a healthy fat! You may remember from my Recipe-Free Dollar Dinner mini eBook, that our food equation is meat + starch + veggie + veggie + fat = complete meal. That second set of veggies in the food formula really adds volume and substance to the meal and makes the meat go farther.
Show me the money…..
When I buy whole chickens on sale, I buy them for $4 and under. Let’s say that I paid $4 for a whole chicken and I get 2 meals out of it, plus a batch of broth (worth $4)… that makes the meat for my meals come in at $2.00/meal and the broth for free. If I can get 3 meals of meat out of that chicken, that makes the meat portion of my meal come in at $1.33 per meal (for a family of 6) and the broth for free!! I think you’re starting to see why I love whole chickens so much!
To put this in perspective, let’s say I am going to make Chicken and Rice soup. From the above example, let’s say the chicken came out to $2.00 for the meal and the broth came in free (real life examples for me). I am only $2.00 in and I have both the meat and broth covered for a meal. Add in rice and veggies (under $1.50), serve with a side salad ($2) and I have come in at or under $6 for a simple, hearty, whole food allergen-free meal for my family of 6.
The #2 reason I love to use whole chickens is that they save me time and energy in the kitchen.
I’ve already stated that I cook a whole chicken and it yields meat enough for 2-3 meals. That means that I have given energy to cook this once – but then have enough meat for the base of 3-4 dinners. I love this!!! The number one reason people site for not cooking at home is that they don’t have time. When you take your energy and create the base of 3-4 meals out of 1 task, you have increased your chances of eating at home and avoiding the drive thru or take-out. Cha-Ching!!!! Keep that money in your account!!!!
Many times, I cook 2 chickens at the same time. This means that I give energy to this 1 time and yield enough meat for the base of 6-8 meals!!!!! When I do this, I use the first chicken for the next 3-4 meals. Then, I take the meat from the second chicken, pull it apart, portion it into 2 cup portions and pop them in the freezer. Then, on busy nights, I know I can pull out cooked chicken and make a several different meals with it in under 30 minutes.
Dinner for a Dollar is not just about saving you money on whole foods, but also about saving time and energy.
Using the whole chicken accomplishes all of this – which is why I consider them a critical part of my cooking plan. If you have decided to give whole chickens a whirl, check out the blog next week on how to cook them! Trust me, you can do it!