Sunday, February 5, 2017

Always buy the whole chicken.

I often hear people say that healthy, whole food is expensive and hard to come by.  I will be the first to admit that it is- if you haven't been trained on how to do it right.

When we were first married and I was learning to cook my freezer always had boneless, skinless chicken breasts in it.  They got used all the time.  Now you are likely to find a small bag of frozen chicken used exclusively for when I have no leftover steak, pork roast or other goodie to put Georgia's arthritis meds in.  The actual meat we eat (when we eat chicken) comes from whole chickens.

Consider this: a fryer chicken at Costco is less than $7 when bought in packs of 2.  I can take that $7 chicken and roast if for 90 minutes if I have time.  Or I can throw it in my crock pot before work, add some potatoes and veggies around it and have dinner ready when I come home.  I cut out the breast and white meat for Sky and I, give the wings, drumsticks and skin to Alex and Dusty.  Everyone is happy.  Dinner #1.

For meal # 2 I take all the remaining meat.  With it I make soup, shredded BBQ chicken for sandwiches, chicken nachos or chicken stir fry.  Yeah, it's leftovers- but they are repurposed so nobody complains.  *note that this method used to cover two  meals.  Now that we have a teenage boy and a preteen boy in the house, it doesn't stretch quite as far as it used to.

After all the meat is  pulled off the fun begins.  I put all the bones, cartlidge, onions stuffed in the cavity and a few spices together to make broth.  Today the broth is being made in my Dutch oven on the stove, because it is rainy and we are home and I have more time.  Typically I use the crock pot overnight and give myself a few extra minutes before work to portion it out when I wake up.  I usually come out with 3 quart sized mason jars worth of stock- it used to be 4 but I prefer the stock be more condensed.  We use the stock in everything.  Especially rice!  Rice is inexpensive and easy to make but really can be boring.  With homemade chicken broth it tastes awesome!  We also use the broth for soup, stir fry...pretty much any savory recipe that calls for water gets broth instead.  Sure, I could use store bought broth- but it is expensive and high in sodium.  And I can absolutely promise it does not taste as good.

So there you go.  Buy the whole chicken.  Rather than spending $6 for chicken breasts for 4 people, spend $7 for a chicken that will provide you with 2-3 dinners and enough broth to make another 2 week's worth of inexpensive meals taste sooooo much better.

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