Like most other people, I am always looking for a way to save money on our grocery budget. This is not something that comes easily for me. For the longest time, I was never really that interested in learning how to cook, so our grocery bill was high due to my purchasing lots of prepackaged items and convenience foods. However, once we started our family and I found out that both my daughter and I have food allergies, things had to change fairly quickly. Specialty items are expensive and they were killing our food budget, so one of the first things I learned how to do, was to start cooking using whole chickens.
It is cheaper. Where we live, chicken is expensive, though not as expensive as beef. Buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts can cost over $5 a pound when not on sale and tenderloins are no better price wise. Whole chickens on the other hand normally cost about $1.39 to $1.49 a pound, and every once in a while, I can get them for as low as .99¢ a pound. When that happens I don’t buy just one, I buy as many as I have room to fit in my freezer and will eat over the next few months.
More than one meal. I use the whole chicken for two meals. The first meal is cooked in the crock pot. I dice up some potatoes, carrots, onions and celery and place them in the bottom of the crock pot, saving the scraps for making broth later. Then I clean the chicken and place it breast side down on top of the vegetables. I rub the chicken with some olive oil, and then sprinkle it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Next, I pour in 1 cup of water, put the lid on the crock pot and set the temperature on high for 1 hour, changing it too low for 6 hours or until done. When finished, I let the chicken cool, pick the meat off the bone and set half of it aside for another meal and the bones for broth. I usually make chicken salad, chicken pot pie or pulled chicken sandwiches for the second meal. This week I’m going to try chicken a-la king.
Make chicken broth. There is no need to buy store bought chicken broth. A lot of them have gluten in them, so it can be easier to just make your own and not have to worry if you are gluten free. I make the broth by taking all of the bones, all the vegetable scraps (sometimes I cut up an extra carrot, celery or onion if needed), add around ½ teaspoon each of parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, sage or basil, 1 or 2 bay leaves* and six cups of water and let them cook all night in the crock pot for up to 10 hours. In the morning, I let it cool, then just strain and store the broth in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to six months.
Do you cook using whole chickens? I’ve thought about roasting two in the oven instead and then freezing some of the meat. Have you ever done that? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
*I’m not the best at following recipes, so I tend to cook by eyeing ingredients and/or by taste, so things never turn out the same way twice. Please adjust any of the above recipes to fit you and your family’s needs.
*Picture courtesy of Pixabay.com.