Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to Make 7 Meals from 1 Whole Chicken

After watching the documentary, "Food, Inc" a few months ago (I think) and reading Michael Pollan a few months before that, my husband and I have been making some pretty drastic changes to the way we purchase food and eat. Before our "new" ways, our goal price for meat was no more than $2 per pound. Our new goal is $5 per pound for organic meat of any kind. At that price, we quickly realized that we are going to be eating a lot less meat.

I was curious to see how far I could stretch a whole chicken. So the same week that whole chickens were on sale at the local grocery store for $.79 a pound, I went to Trader Joe's and paid $1.99 per pound for a "Free Range" "All Natural" chicken.  Now, I'm not sold on Trader Joe's chickens because TJs is not very forthcoming about where their store brand products are from. If I'm paying that much for a chicken, I want to know all about it's living conditions and make sure that it is truly free range and vegetarian fed. But at the time, this was my best option. I paid $14 for a 7 pound chicken (which is HUGE for chicken!). My goal was to stretch that chicken in to 7 meals costing just $2 per meal for the meat.

The first thing I did was to cook the chicken. I tossed it in the slow cooker on high for about 4 hours. When it was done, I discarded the skin, peeled off all the meat in to a bowl and threw it in the fridge.

Meals 1 and 2 -- Soup: Once the chicken was just a carcass, I made chicken stock in the slow cooker using the carcass, veggies, and gizzards. I got 8 cups of stock, which will make 2 meals of soup for us. I froze the stock for later. It's still 100 degrees and I'm not in the mood for soup!

Meal 3 and 4 -- Chicken Salad Sandwiches: We ate chicken salad sandwiches for lunch for 2 days. I use chicken, mayo, lemon pepper, and dried cranberries.

Meal 5 & 6 -- Chopped Salad: I based it on this recipe and it was delicious! I added a homemade vinaigrette dressing to each bowl because I knew we'd have leftovers and I didn't want it to be soggy the next day.

Meal 7 (and probably 8): Either Chicken Pot Pie or Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole: We got tired of chicken, but I have enough left (which I froze) to make either of the above recipes. We will most likely have enough for dinner and lunch with either recipe.

While the "all natural" (not organic) chicken definitely gave us sticker shock, I am very happy that we were able to stretch it so far! We also did some research and found that Whole Foods sells Mary's Chickens, which appear to be truly free range and vegetarian fed. Until we can find a local source (which isn't likely) for chickens, we'll probably be purchasing Mary's when the go on sale.

6 Thoughts From Others:

Sarah Kay said...

Great job Camille! That's pretty awesome!

Chief Family Officer said...

Great experiment - I am going to try this too. Do you have a Whole Foods near you? $1.99 is their sale price for whole chickens, so I bought two last week when I was there for the $3.99/lb grass fed ground beef and froze them in the freezer. Now I know what I'm doing next week!

Camille said...

Thanks, Sarah. :-) It was a fun experiment.

Yes, Cathy! We were there a few days ago and they had their organic whole chickens on sale for $2.99/lb (normally $3.79) so I got 3 and froze them! I figured for $1 more per pound, I'd go for the organic. I'm curious to see if they taste any different. I did not notice any taste difference in the TJs chickens, but as I said, I don't entirely trust them.

ReeCh said...

Hi -- Here via CFO, with a newbie question. Did you add water to the slow cooker for the whole chicken? I'm pretty good at stretching a roast chicken but very interested in doing a whole chicken in the crock pot. Thanks!

Camille said...

Hi ReeCh and thanks for stopping by! No, I don't add water. I just toss it in. If you want to do double duty, you can throw some potatoes underneath and get those cooked, too. I usually rinse off the chicken fat, dice them, and fry them up as home fries the next morning.

ReeCh said...


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