Chicken is one of the more expensive meats, especially if its organic. But you can make those extra dollars count by spending a little extra time in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned meal of chicken? Here are some ways to enjoy chicken without having to pay an arm and a leg.
1. Only Buy and Cook Whole Chickens
Price varies from place to place, but whole chickens will always be cheaper than buying chicken breasts on their own. In addition to price, cooking meat in its whole form increases its nutrient content. This is because the minerals and nutrients from the bones will absorb into the meat. If you only like specific cuts of chicken, trying something new might be in order. People often choose chicken as it is a very lean meat and then even then only eat the white meat as it is the leanest. It is important to remember that fat isn’t bad for you, and eating only the leanest of meats will leave you lacking important nutrients and not feeling your best. This is because your body needs good quality fat to function properly, if you aren’t getting enough you may feel fatigued or brain-fogged. There are important fat soluble vitamins in fats, specifically vitamin A, E, D, and K; if you aren’t getting enough fat, you definitely won’t be getting enough of these vitamins. This is why eating all the different parts of a chicken is healthier than living on plain old chicken breasts. If they include the giblets with your chicken, and you are feeling adventurous, eat those too (they are nutrient packed).
2. Don’t Eat Just Chicken
If you cook a whole chicken and then have a meal of chicken and potatoes, there may not be very many left overs. Instead, use the meat from the whole chicken in stir fries, soups, or salads. Combining chicken with more vegetables will have you eating less chicken at each meal and make up a more balanced meal. As delicious as it is, you don’t need to eat a full chicken breast in one sitting.
3. Make Bone Broth
There is a wealth of nutrients left in that carcass, so don’t let them go to waste by throwing it away. Throw that carcass in a slow cooker, cover with water, add some red wine and spices and let that thing simmer overnight (10-12 hours). You can use this broth to make a flavorful soup or just drink it on its own for a shot of nutrients in the morning. Bone broth is great for your gut, hair, skin, nails, and joints! Read here for a whole list of benefits.
Once you have made your bone broth, strain the bones, but don’t get rid of them yet! More than likely there is still meat you left on the carcass (I usually leave on the back meat and some of the thigh). Pick through the strained bones and separate out the remaining meat. This does take a little time and you will have to get in there and use your hands, but you will be surprised with the amount of meat you can find. You can use this meat in your soup, or eat it with other things.
5. Save The Bones
Even though you just boiled the bones, you can still get more nutrients from them. While I am picking through the carcass I usually separate out the larger bones (mostly legs and hips) into a container to put in the freezer. You can add these bones along with a chicken carcass to add a little extra to your bone broth, or you can save up more bones and then make a bone broth out of saved bones only. If you make a bone broth out of saved bones it will be less rich (as it will lack most of the fat contents of a bone broth made from a fresh carcass) and you will have to simmer it for longer, but it will still contain lots of minerals and nutrients. You don’t have to throw them out after the second boil either, you can keep saving them and reusing them until they dissolve. Make sure you save them in the freezer until their next use though. You can read more about reusing bones here.
As an individual person, a small organic chicken can last me almost a week and usually costs me around 20 dollars. I get lots of meals out of it mostly in the form of stir fries and soups. Price and nutrition just can’t compare to buying chicken breasts separately!
Do you have any other tips for getting the most out of your chicken?