A whole, raw chicken can have multiple uses – which saves you a lot of money!
Recently I’ve noticed a trend in many Pinterest recipes. I am finding that oftentimes, whenever a recipe calls for shredded chicken a blogger mentions that they have used leftover rotisserie chicken, (like the kind you buy already cooked from a store). Usually whenever you purchase pre-cooked meat it is WAY more expensive, may contain MSG and/or preservatives, (and in my family’s case), and is not guaranteed to be gluten-free. Here is why I prefer to start with raw chicken.
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I’m not trying to shame anyone who buys rotisserie chicken, rather I’m hoping that this post might be helpful to someone who may be new to cooking. Buying raw chicken can save you SO much money!!! It’s perfect for casseroles, soups, or other meals that call for shredded chicken.
PLUS, you can easily make homemade chicken broth AND stock that you can freeze (and use later), you get to control the flavor, there are no fillers or preservatives, it’s overall healthier, and it is SUPER EASY to cook! Why waste any of it? I can buy a whole, fresh chicken from Aldi for around $4 (depending on how much it weighs), or I can buy a whole, fresh, organic chicken from Aldi for around $5-$6. Often times the organic chickens will be even cheaper if they are getting close to the expiration date. Rotisserie chickens can cost at least double that!
Let me show you how to get your money’s worth from a chicken:
1. Eat the meat
Okay, like duh! What else are you supposed to do with it? I coat the raw chicken with my favorite seasonings – which can vary from week to week. Sometimes it’s paprika and garlic salt, sometimes is McCormick’s chicken seasoning, sometimes it’s cayenne pepper, etc. I also like to add a stick of butter, because…. well…. yum! Bake it according to package directions: usually 350 degrees F for 20 min per pound until it is 165 degrees F internally. Whatever chicken is leftover, (which is usually the white meat), I shred, freeze and use it in a casserole, soup, or whenever I need chicken for a recipe.
2. Save the Broth
Ahhhh, all that glorious golden liquid in the bottom of the baking dish!!! Yep, that is chicken broth! Making homemade chicken broth is so simple. For the first five years of my marriage that didn’t click with me, and I was throwing it away!! Why did I not know this!?! I weep for all that delicious, golden, and HEALTHY broth that went down the drain! I was making my own homemade chicken broth, didn’t realize it, threw it away, then went to the store to PAY for MORE chicken broth!!! *Slaps forehead and hangs head in shame*
Since I usually bake my chicken with butter there is a lot of butter mixed in with my broth. If you put the broth in the fridge the butter (and any grease) will separate from the broth and rise to the top. Simply skim off the butter and save it for sautéing veggies or for making a roux. Now you can use the chicken broth in any recipe that calls for it.
I know that one chicken usually doesn’t make a ton of chicken broth, however, there is an easy way to fix that issue. Whenever you cook a chicken, (and if you don’t need the broth at that time), simply place the broth into several containers and freeze it. This way you will have plenty of it at your fingertips for those recipes that call for a lot of broth, (like soup). You can freeze your broth in any size of freezer container, so it’s pre-measured and ready for use. Simply let it thaw out whenever you are ready to use it. If you don’t want to freeze extra broth you can always add chicken stock instead (see below).
Homemade broth is so much healthier than anything you can buy in a store. Nothing has been added to it except the spices you put on the chicken, you get all the wonderful nutrients from the chicken bones, and it’s preservative-free. Plus, the overall flavor of the homemade broth tastes so much better than what you can buy.
3. Make Chicken Stock
Now that you have eaten or frozen the meat and saved the chicken broth, you are left with the bones. Once again this was something I always threw away until recently! Those bones aren’t done yet!! Freeze those too! Once you have gone through several chickens and saved all those bones you are ready to make stock! Making chicken stock is also really easy to make. Simply place all the chicken bones in a large stock pan, fill with water, add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and some spices, then boil it for about four hours. That’s it. This will supply you with a ton of stock! For step-by-step directions click here.
Obviously, the more chicken carcasses and veggies you use the more stock it will make. When I use 3 chicken carcasses I can get around 6-7 quarts of chicken stock.
My family has 2 adults and 3 children. We can get two meals out of the meat of a whole chicken (either by eating plain chicken or using it in casseroles). Plus we get chicken broth and a whole lot of chicken stock! All for $4!
Buying chicken broth from the store will cost you around $2-3 for 32 oz. So this probably saved you $1.50 or so. Not a ton, but it adds up!
This is a great article that breaks down the cost of buying chicken stock versus making your own: Make or Buy?
It’s really not time-consuming, it’s more about thinking ahead and planning. Which is a huge part of saving money and living a frugal lifestyle.
Looking for recipes that use chicken?
What do you do with a whole, raw chicken?