The Value of a Chicken

Roasted chicken When you’re on a tight grocery budget, just how far can you stretch one little chicken?


I decided to track exactly what I did with a my last free-range chicken, because I wanted to know the ultimate value derived from it.


I started with a box of Whole Chicken Fryers, from Shelton Natural Poultry. They were recently on sale (I pretty much buy them only when they go on sale), so I purchased:


10 lb box (3 chickens)= $20.60 (regular price $24.25)


So, 1 chicken (approx. 3+ pounds), cost $6.87 (it was regular $8.09, but we’ll go by the sale price because that’s the whole point of being a savvy shopper).


Here’s the breakdown of how I used it.


1) First, I put it in my crockpot on low one day, to cook all of the meat. This also pulled some of the gelatin out of the bones at the same time, most of which I kept which the bones for making broth. After it was cooked, I carefully separated all of the meat from the bones (and other “stuff”), and put it all in a big bowl. Then I put one cup portions into small baggies, put those into a larger ziploc bag, and put it all in the freezer.


2) Next, I added the bone (and the gelatin left in the crockpot) to a large stock pot, and made a delicious and nourishing bone broth for soup, sauces, cooking grains, etc.


3) The particular whole chickens that I buy come with the giblets (translation- the guts), which have been removed, then tucked back inside for me to use or discard as I please. Because I know the value of liver, when it’s available from a good, clean source (not the regular grocery store), I carefully cleaned and cooked it, then added it to a batch of chicken baby food for my little guy. Liver is just brimming full of Vitamin A, B (including folic acid), iron, and other trace elements.


This is what my single chicken looked like in the end:


5 cups of frozen, cooked chicken, which was used to make these three meals

1 large batch of Black Bean Wraps (dinner for 4, plus lunch leftovers for 2)

1 pot of Busy Day Mexican Soup (dinner for 3, and lunch for myself and daughter for a couple days)

1 recipe of Chicken Divan (for 4, with lunch leftovers for 2)

5 litres (quarts) of homemade chicken bone broth


Liver added to a batch of baby food


Not bad for $6.87, hey?


Do you generally use whole chickens, or pre-packaged parts (breasts, legs, etc.)? What do you find to be the cheapest ways to buy chicken? If you buy whole like me, how do you make good use of your chicken?


Find more frugal ideas at Frugal Friday!

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Please forgive my ignorance, but when you cook a whole chicken in a crock pot, do you add anything to it (water, spices, etc.)? Thanks!

    • Allison says:

      @Angie, Angie, I just put the chicken in the crockpot, salt and pepper it and let it cook on low 8 hours. The meat just falls off the bone. I slice it and put it on a platter, like a turkey, and serve it one meal. Then, you have so much meat left over to freeze, etc. You will be surprised how much meat in on a chicken when you cook it like this!

  2. Sorry Lindsay! The link is fixed now- thanks for letting me know! :)

  3. I started using whole roasters this last winter when I found out you could make them in the crockpot. Never thought of that before! :-)
    One whole chicken feeds us (2 adults and 1 toddler) one roast chicken dinner, chicken fajita dinner, and homemade chicken nuggets dinner, plus I usually have enough to put into a salad a couple of times for my lunch.
    I’ll buy boneless skinless when it goes really cheap, but am trying to get away from doing that and am looking for some free-range options.

  4. We love whole chickens from a local farmer! They are 6.5 lbs each this year! I picked them up just on Thursday immediately after they were butchered (Can’t get much fresher than that!). Love cutting them up and freezing the thighs, breasts, and carcasses separately for future meals. One chicken extends for around 5-6 meals over here!

    Wanted to check out your black bean wrap recipe, but the link went to your chicken stock recipe. Would you be able add the correct link? Thanks.

  5. We don’t buy whole, though if it comes down to it this year I’m willing. So far though we stick with the boneless skinless chicken breasts. When we first got married we got the bone in kind, but my time was more valuable than the savings, so we switched. We get the boneless skinless only when it’s on sale. We find that a couple times a year it goes down pretty low at a local meat market type store. Just a couple weeks ago they had it at $1.68/lb. for Father’s Day. When we find it that low we buy a case (40 pounds). Then DH and I make a night of it (all 30 minutes the process takes) and bag it up one breast to a bag. Works great for us… and most of the time we can get 2 meals from each breast!

  6. I use whole birds, almost always. I do buy a few packages of free-range chicken breast meat but not very often. We buy from a local farm that raises pastured meat, and the birds are 6-8 pounds! It’s $2.10/lb so $12-16 per bird but that one bird serves for 4-5 dinners. I usually roast the chicken and have that with veggies for one meal, pull all the meat off and make a couple meals worth of enchiladas (one to eat and one to freeze) and then make stock with the carcass, and either make that into chicken soup immediately with the rest of the meat, or freeze the rest of the meat and stock separately.

  7. I just recently started using whole chickens (cooking them in the crockpot all day) and then separating the meat and bones. I have been amazed at how far a 3-4lb. chicken will go! I think I’m going to start making my own broth/stock now, too, to get full use out of the chicken.

  8. I only buy whole chickens. Generally they are 5-7 lbs or so.

    I cook them all at once (as opposed to slicing off parts and then freezing them). Then I cut off all the meat and use it in dishes. I find by using it in dishes it goes farther, rather than just serving meat-and-potatoes type of thing.

    So I package up the meat in portions I need for recipes and then put it back in the freezer, cooked. When I need it, I take it out to thaw, and adapt the recipe to use the already cooked chicken.

    I save the carcass and cook it up with some veggies and stuff for stock which I use in soups. I use the less than perfect meat from the chicken in the soups (mainly the parts that fall off the bone when cooking the carcass).

  9. Oops! I see now that you included how much it weighed in your post, LOL.

  10. I agree! You can really make chicken stretch. I usually buy whole chickens and roast them, making stock out of the bones with a few added raw pieces of chicken legs added. How big were those chickens you got? It seems like an awfully good deal! That’s great.

  11. I usually just buy chicken breasts because most of my family doesn’t like dark meat. I take the boneless breasts and cut them length wise so that it looks like I have two chicken breasts instead of one. Out of a 4 lb bag I usually can get 2 full meals and 2 leftover lunches for a family of 7. I don’t think that is too bad when I get the bags for around $1.89/lb on sale. :)