Thrifty Thursdays: Save Bucks on a Bird

Sorry, vegetarian and vegan Eat Drink Better readers.  This tip is for the omnis! We recently made the move from a vegetarian kitchen to a sometimes-omnivorous kitchen.  Without getting into the nuances of both my husband and my’s food preferences, we’re more likely to eat at home if I cook meat sometimes, and I’d rather save the money and eat at home where I can control ingredients.  One thing I recently tried as part of this new arrangement was cooking a whole chicken. Why deal with a whole chicken when you can buy the convenient prepackaged boneless skinless breasts?  Because you can save a ton of money by buying a whole bird.  Find out how, after the jump…

A whole bird costs a fraction per pound that chicken parts.  I either buy a local bird (still cheaper than store-bought breasts) at the farmers’ market, or I wait until organic chickens go on sale at the supermarket.  Either way, wait until you can get a deal, then buy a few to freeze.  You can get at least three meals from one chicken, four depending on the size of the bird.  Here’s how:

When we’re ready for chicken, I’ll roast a whole bird (it’s much easier than you would think!) and we’ll eat that for one meal with roasted veggies.  We save enough pieces for one leftover meal of chicken pieces.  Then, I shred any other leftovers, plus any meat picked from the bones/carcass, and freeze for either tacos, salad, or pasta.  The carcass also gets frozen and then made into stock, which can be used to make soups or risotto.  Boom, four meals.

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About the Author

A former high school teacher, I'm currently a part-time writer/full-time doctoral student at the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities, studying leadership in education from a critical pedagogy perspective along with public policy. On the green side, I'm interested in local food and agriculture (Iowa girl, born and raised), sustainability education, DIY projects, and grassroots activism. I'm slowly turning my South City, St Louis home into an urban farmstead. On the hoping-to-be-greener side, I love reading, yoga, soccer, music, backpacking, knitting, pop culture and trivia, my Tuesday Night Dinner Club, traveling, Guitar Hero, dive bars, and sitting on front porches with my husband and a cold beer. I came to Green Options via a post on Sustainablog,working the St Louis angle to get Jeff to let me in. I have a personal blog chronicling (what else?) life in South St. Louis. Follow me on Twitter!
  • I cooked my first bird of the fall (I usually don’t cook a whole one in the summer) this past weekend. We ate dinner from it and I’ve now got two containers of leftovers in the freezer – one to make chicken pot pie and one for chicken noodle soup.

    It really is very easy to roast one. Very little hands on time at all.

  • We eat a lot of chicken in our house. I need to talk my roommate into this, especially considering that it’s really not much more work at all.

  • I also want to talk him into more beans and vegetarian meals. I think we could cut down our food bills significantly AND lower our impact too.

  • Christine

    Robin, in the summer, I grill my whole chicken outdoors. Usually I use the beer can method :)
    Kelli, Leanne Ely on calls this the Rubber Chicken…make that chicken stretch out into 3 meals! :)

  • We do this too! And, like Robin, I wait until cooler weather to run the oven for 2+ hours. It’s great to stretch $5-6 into 4 meals instead of spending $5 just on one package of pre-trimmed meat!

    If you have any little leftover bits of chicken, you can run them through a food processor with some cracker or bread crumbs, minced scallions, and a bit of mayonnaise (just enough to make it all stick together), season, and cook on a hot griddle. It makes a good chicken patty for sandwiches, and the kids like it.