Whole Chickens: A Budget-Friendly Dinner

(Image Credit: wikimedia commons)

(Image Credit: wikimedia commons)

Chicken is delicious. It is a staple in our family. . .roast chicken, hot chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, chicken soup. . .you name it. I should disclose that because we’ve been raising our own chickens for the past five years, I haven’t bought chicken at the grocery store for a really long time.  I was surprised to discover that it’s pretty expensive, especially if you go for the boneless, skinless breasts that are so popular in recipes these days.

And if you don’t have the bones, how will you make delicious stocks and broths?

Whole chickens are much more budget friendly, and while they can be a bit of a learning curve if you’ve become used to sliding your poultry right off a styrofoam tray into a skillet, it’s worth it. One whole chicken can feed my family for three, sometimes four nights, so even if you’re paying for fancy organic whole chickens, it’s less expensive than the boneless, skinless breasts.

We often use the breast meat to make homemade chicken nuggets, the legs and thighs in chicken and dumplings, and then boil down the skin and bones with an onion and some veggies to make broth for soup.

That’s right. One chicken = three meals for our family, plus extra soup for lunches during the week.

You can find a video that shows you how to cut a whole chicken into quarters in less than five minutes here:

And this next video will show you how to separate the boneless, skinless breast meat so that you can still cook your favorite recipes:

Having done this for years now, I have some tips:

It’s easier with very sharp knives. My knives are never sharp, and I can still hack my way through a chicken, but it’s neither as easy or as pretty.

If I’m quartering and separating breast meat, I try to do two whole chickens at once. Obviously, you get twice as much, but it also makes the serving sizes closer to the standard store packaging (four breasts instead of two). Since many people are used to working with these serving sizes already, it might make for an easier transition.

And finally, you don’t have to quarter a whole chicken at all, which is the beauty of the thing. You can roast them, whole, like a turkey, eat a delicious meal, and then still have leftover meat for burritos and leftover bones for broth.  Again, when I do this, I often roast two at a time in the same roasting pan, for a cook-once-eat-multiple-nights effect.

Whole chickens will save you money and make rubber chicken jokes seem funnier. What’s not to love?

6 thoughts on “Whole Chickens: A Budget-Friendly Dinner

  1. Ray, we sold the farm, but I’d be happy to talk chicken any time. We learned a lot in those 5 years. . .we raised over 3000 chickens! And Holly, it really is easy. I think. But it’s also just part of my routine now, so I could just be weird.


  2. There is nothing like coming home after a day out to the smell of something
    cooking and knowing your dinner is almost ready.
    Of course, the opposite is also true’but you cannot eat outside food every day.
    Cook the vegetables in the same manner; as vegetables
    near doneness, return the meat to the wok, stir and serve


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