Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thrifty Thursday-Whole Chicken

Thursday’s Thrifty Tip
This week’s money saving tip is saving money on dinner time.  The whole chicken!  If you’ve never cooked a whole chicken you’re missing out.  I too, was once intimidated by the whole chicken.  It seemed like a temperamental time consuming beast.  In reality it’s simple and cheaper than buying cuts and pieces.  A little seasoning and an hour or so in the oven and dinner is ready.
I regularly buy boneless skinless chicken breast, but at a minimum of $1.98/lb in my local grocery store it’s quite costly.  I regularly find a whole chicken for $0.89/lbs and just yesterday snagged several at the bargain price of $0.59/lbs because they were near their sell by date.
Preparing a whole chicken is really quite easy.  I loosen the skin and put whatever seasoning blend underneath it and rub it in.  Garlic and oil, your favorite BBQ seasoning blend, a curry powder, or whatever else you can think of work wonders to turn boring chicken into an exciting dinner adventure.  I rub a little olive oil on the skin, lay it on a foil covered baking sheet, and put it in a 350 degree oven for an hour to an hour and half.  The internal temperature needs to reach 180 degrees.  Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone.  When it hits 180 it’s done.  Let it rest for a few minutes and its ready to serve. 
It’s such a cheap alternative to my nearly $2/lb boneless skinless chicken breast.  For around $5 I have a roasted chicken for dinner, chicken for a buffalo chicken pizza (1 dinner), chicken for a casserole (3 dinners), chicken salad for a lunch, plus the carcass for stock.  I can usually get around five different dinners and a lunch or two out of one bird preparing enough for three adults. 
Menu Cost For A Whole Chicken
Prices are based on my local grocery store.  For obvious reasons your prices may vary. 
Meal 1
I have allowed $0.50 for seasoning on the chicken.  A couple of gloves for fresh garlic for the broccoli would be pennies extra and garlic powder even less.  The total cost of the chicken is included in the budget for Meal 1.  Subsequent meals will list the chicken at Free.
Garlic Seasoned Roasted Chicken- $6
Steamed Broccoli from frozen with Garlic- $1.50
Green Salad (Romaine lettuce and various in season produce)- $2
Fresh Whole Wheat Bread- $1
Meal 2
Chicken Casserole
The cost of the crushed tomatoes is based on the price of a 6lbs can from Sams Club.  If you’re using smaller cans from a grocery store estimate $1 for the tomatoes.
This yields about 9 servings.  I’m feeding three adults so it makes three meals for us.
1 c. Chicken- Free
½ lbs Dried Black Beans (reconstituted and cooked)- $0.75
1 small can Cream of Mushroom Soup- $0.80
2 c. Crushed Tomatoes- $0.25
½ c Diced mushrooms- $0.15
1 lbs Whole Wheat Pasta- $1.10
1 Bag Mixed Frozen Veggies- $1.20
1 c Shredded Cheese- $1.25
1 Sleeve Butter Rounds Crackers- $0.75
If you have a bigger family try adding a large salad for only a couple of dollars more, or bulk out the casserole with more beans and veggies to stretch your servings.

Meal 3
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Again the price is based on the tomatoes from Sams Club as well as the ranch powder in bulk from Sams.
1 c Chicken-Free
Homemade Pizza Crust-$0.50
Homemade Buffalo Sauce- $0.50
½ Medium Red Onion-$0.15
2 Stalks of Celery-$0.10
2 tbs. Ranch Powder- $1

Green Salad (Romaine lettuce and various in season produce)- $2
Total- $4.35
So the grand total for the entire menu from the chicken is $20.10
That comes out to $4.02/meal and an average of $1.34/serving. 
The per meal and per serving prices are based on serving three adults with the casserole yielding nine servings in a 9x13 baking dish.
Stretch that bird even further by throwing it in a pot with some water, herbs, garlic, celery, carrots, and onions to make a killer stock for soup and other delicious recipes.

That beautiful chicken up there is from pioneer woman.  Check her site out for the fabulous recipe.

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