Updated on 12.10.13

The Frugal Whole Chicken (or, Waste Not, Want Not)

Trent Hamm

Aunt Lee Geok's Roast Chicken - whole by avlxyz on Flickr!A few days ago, I was inspecting the whole chickens that were on sale at the local grocery store. The price was quite nice – $0.88 a pound – and although it was a different brand of chicken than what I usually buy, I was considering making the purchase (we tend to buy free range chickens, which cost more).

Just then, I overheard a person behind me talking about how buying a whole chicken was a “waste of money” because you’re paying for parts you don’t use. This lady immediately bought a two pack of chicken breasts which – lo and behold – cost about as much as the whole four pound chicken I was looking at.

As she walked away, I couldn’t help but smile. A whole chicken is an incredibly frugal deal that provides the materials for several meals if you’re sensible about it. Here’s the game plan for turning a whole chicken purchase into several delicious meals.

Meal #1: The Chicken Itself
Cooking a whole chicken is really easy. All you have to do is unwrap it, remove the neck and gizzards (usually already separated for you – but save them for later), rinse it down well, rub the skin with salt (two tablespoons or so) and pepper (a few dashes) and a bit of vegetable oil (two tablespoons or so), then cook it.

“How do you cook it?” is the next obvious question. If you have an oven or a grill, one very simple way to do it is with a can of beer. Just open one up, drink about half of it, then insert the can into the chicken’s cavity, open end inside the chicken. Then, you can literally sit the chicken on the can or use a beercan chicken rack. Toss it on the grill over indirect heat (off to the side) or in the oven at a low temperature and cook it until you get a temperature reading of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit from the breast. That’s it.

Then, just cut off the tastiest parts – most people enjoy the breasts, legs, wings, and thighs. Don’t worry about knowing how to cut it – just get the pieces off that you want. Serve it with a side vegetable, and you have cheap meal #1.

Meal #2: Leftover Pieces
When you’re done eating the chicken, you’ll have a carcass with quite a bit of meat still on it. Spend some time carefully extracting these little pieces of cooked meat and save them in a baggie in the freezer.

Why? This stuff is the perfect basis for any dish with chicken in it. Use it on a homemade chicken pizza, in a casserole, or in soup. Any recipe that uses diced chicken can use this stuff. Usually, you’ll have more than enough left to satisfy any recipe you might have.

Meal #3: Even the Waste Parts
Now, what about those leftover “junk” pieces you don’t want to eat? Even those are useful. Throw all of the leftover pieces (bones, skin, neck, gizzards, all of it!) into a big pot, add enough cold water so that the pieces are thoroughly covered, add a dash of salt and a dash of pepper, toss in a few vegetables (I like a small amount of onion, celery, and carrots – maybe 1/2 cup each), then crank it up to a boil. Once it’s boiling, drop it down to a low simmer and just let it cook all day – four hours, minimum.

When it’s done, remove the bones and strain what’s left, removing the chunks. The remaining liquid is chicken stock, and it’s infinitely useful in all sorts of dishes. It can be the basis of a soup, the liquid ingredient in a savory casserole, stir fry, curries, or anything else. Any recipe that uses bouillon or broth can use this liquid instead and will taste substantially better for it. You can freeze this stuff in freezer bags if you’d like.

One good way to do this is to have the whole chicken on Friday or Saturday evening, remove the extra meat after dinner, then boil the remnants the next day while you’re doing other household tasks.

A Look at the Costs
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you can get a whole four pound chicken for $7.50. You’ll also need perhaps $3 worth of vegetables to go with it, $0.50 in cooking materials, and you might burn $0.50 worth of energy in the cooking process. That’s a total of $11.50.

From that, you can produce a meal of chicken and vegetables to feed a family of four, a meal worth of leftovers, a bag full of chicken pieces in the freezer for a future meal for a family of four, and a bag of chicken stock for another meal or two. That’s five complete meals and the key ingredients for eight more meals.

What’s the Lesson Here?
For the most part, being frugal with food is just like being frugal with anything else: the more stuff you can reuse, the less expensive day to day life becomes. An ordinary whole chicken seems like a ho-hum purchase, but when you look at the possibilities that it provides, it becomes a much stronger purchase.

Here’s another example. Let’s say that you often buy vegetables, but only intend to eat part of it. I know, for example, that my family tends to eat about one and a half sliced zucchinis as a side dish, leaving that other half of a zucchini as a waste. Just go ahead and slice it and throw it with other miscellaneous vegetables into a freezer bag – whenever you have a leftover vegetable, just toss it in there. Then, once every few weeks (when the bag gets full), toss a bit of olive oil and a bit of garlic in a pan and make a stir fry out of the leftover vegetables. It’s an incredibly cheap meal (plus you can toss in some of those leftover chicken pieces).

If you spend a few minutes thinking about what you can do with the left over elements of any meal you prepare, you can usually come up with a tasty use. And when that tasty use keeps you from tossing those pieces in the trash, then it’s as good as found money.

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  1. Katie says:

    A grocery chain in my area has whole roasted chickens for $4.99 on Sundays (sometimes $3.99 if you go later in the day), and if they’re out they also have turkey legs for $3.99 (and sometimes $2.99) the same day.

    I do my weekly shopping on Sundays to take advantage of this deal, and either munch on the chicken the entire week, or use it in recipes as above.

  2. Macinac says:

    I’m fascinated by the (half) can of beer. I’ll have to try this, but what about the paint on the can?

  3. Amanda B. says:

    Have you had any trouble eating chicken since reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma? I actually got queasy in the store yesterday (I am finishing the book now).

  4. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Have you had any trouble eating chicken since reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma? I actually got queasy in the store yesterday (I am finishing the book now).”

    That’s the big reason we switched to free range chicken. It’s more expensive, but a lot less worrisome.

    “I’ll have to try this, but what about the paint on the can?”

    When I do it, the can seems unchanged after the cooking other than a bit of discoloring on the bottom.

  5. H-Bomb says:

    Thank you so much Trent! I have been trying to find good and creative ways to streach my food budget.

  6. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Since two people have emailed me already, I’m going to do a post near Thanksgiving that talks about ways to maximize the ubiquitous Thanksgiving turkey in similar ways. Look for it about a week before Turkey Day.

  7. Anya says:

    Trent, I’ve heard that it’s actually NOT a good idea to wash chicken or turkey before cooking. Rinsing the bird just spreads any bacteria on its skin all over your kitchen, whereas if you just cook it (without rinsing), the cooking temperature itself kills any bacteria.

    Thanks for all the great food-related tips!

  8. Janette says:

    Once you’ve boiled and then strained all of the bones, skin, parts, etc., put the liquid back in the pot and refrigerate it for a few hours or over night. The fat will rise to the top and you can scrape it off and discard.

    Also, you can make “cream of” soups from the stock. Add a couple tablespoons of butter and your favorite seasonings to about 2 cups of the stock over high heat. Wisk in a couple tablespoons of flour and it will thicken. Lower heat and add milk if you need to, depending on desired consistency. You can add in bits of celery (for cream of celery), chicken (for cream of chicken), or mushrooms (for cream of mushroom).

  9. Brent says:

    I buy the free whole range chickens myself. I’m single so $7.50 to $10 lasts for the whole week. One interesting thing is that they get locally raised chicken as well I tried it once and it was very good, but at $4.50/lb. once was all I could do! Maybe when I’m debt-free I can do this more often.

    And what does she mean by waste? What a fool!

  10. Some of the best chicken salad I’ve ever had was from pieces of leftover chicken, a little ranch dressing, some Mrs Dash, celery, grapes, pecans, and shredded carrots.

    Simply awesome!

  11. Lise says:

    Whole chickens are on sale right now at my grocery store… I might have to try this.

    One thing I like to do with leftover meat and veggies is use the “universal casserole” and “universal quiche” recipes from The Tightwad Gazette. These allow you to mix and match leftovers in whatever combinations you have.

  12. I’m also in the camp that never washes the bird. I rely on the cooking to render any possible bacteria dead and harmless.

    One other product from chicken that you don’t mention is schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat. It’s used a lot in Jewish cooking, and it is absolutely delicious in many preparations. Duck fat, goose fat and chicken fat all turn potatoes into culinary gold. You may not get much schmaltz on its own from a roasted chicken. But if you buy parts, you can render the fat from the skin. It’ll keep for a few short weeks in the refrigerator, so use it up quickly!

    Waste not, want not!

  13. Andy says:

    I am going to try making my own stocks soon – never done it before. I didn’t know you could add the gizzards. Do you know if you can freeze the bones then make a big batch of stock later?

  14. Wow, excellent post Trent. Very intelligent perspective. I always buy boneless chicken breasts when they fall under $1.50/lb because I can grill them fast and eat them throughout the week. (I try to be frugal with my time.)

    I appreciate you touching on areas other than personal finance. You provide a valuable resource for all of us. Nice job.

  15. Eric says:

    Several of the grocery stores in my town sell roasted chickens for about $5. They are delicious and they literally require no work (except picking one up from the grocery store). And like you suggested, the leftover bits are perfect for any dish that requires chicken.

  16. Mac says:

    Jenn of FrugalUpstate described the chicken/can of beer recipe in detail (including photo) on her blog in July.

  17. Great post. My mom is one of those it’s a waste people. Not me. Thanks for the reminder of what all you can do with a whole chicken.

  18. You mentioned picking off the little bits of chicken before boiling for stock. I stick the whole carcass in enough cold water to cover without removing the meat first. I find it makes the stock more flavorful and I can easily remove the meat from the bones after it has cooked for a few hours. I also get much many more meals from the bird, usually at least five meals for four people from one average sized chicken (the roast chicken dinner, two meals worth of soup and enough meat to be used in two casseroles. The skin goes to my cats, who are very happy whenever we have a roast chicken dinner!

  19. Michelle says:

    You can also cook a whole chicken in the Crock-Pot. Just ball up foil into 3 golf ball size balls, put them in the bottom of the cooker, empty the chicken, then cook it on high for about 4 hours. It’s so tender the meat just falls off the bone! I hardly ever buy any other kind of chicken because this is so cheap and easy! Once it’s done, I have enough shredded chicken to use in at least two meals.

  20. PJ Wyatt says:

    Save that half can of beer to pour into the pot with the carcass for soup making. Adds a wonderful flavor to the broth. Also, adding beer/wine/just a touch of vinegar to the water helps leech some of the calcium from the bones into the stock. And oh yeah, when making stock, instead of dicing an onion, save the papery peels and root ends. You’re going to strain the stock anyway, and these bits contribute an amazing amount of flavor — stuff you’d otherwise be throwing away.

  21. PJ Wyatt says:

    Have done the crockpot idea, and it’s terrific. When chickens go on sale, I buy 3 or 4, pull out the gizzards and freeze the chickens individually. I put a frozen chicken breast-side down in a crockpot (the oval shape works best here), add garlic to the bottom, and turn it on low for 8 hours or so. I skip the foil. The chicken makes is own broth, and as Michelle says, it’s amazingly tender and juicy.

  22. Mary Beth says:

    You can definitely freeze the bones and make the stock later. If I serve chicken or turkey and do not think I will get around to making stock in the next day or so, I always throw the bones in the freezer (wrapped of course). Some time in the future they can be added, still frozen, to a big pot with the rest of the ingredients for stock.

  23. todd says:

    Other bennies might include:

    * better taste (roasting skin-on whole chicken yields moister meat compared to boneless/skinless breast-yuk)

    * probably healthier (assuming pastured chicken)-yeah I know it might have more fat, but not all fat is evil

    * better for the environment (less styrofoam/plastic packaging)

    * go to the dark side – at least one generation has probably grown up thinking dark meat is bad

    There are probably more, but for me you have to go beyond a simple economic analysis. There’s something to be said for /quality/ and /pleasure/.

  24. Kevin says:

    Great post Trent, I love “Beer-can chicken”. I actually use a dry rub on mine to give it a little more flavor, but simple salt & pepper sounds good too.

    Last Thanksgiving, I “borrowed” my in-laws turkey carcass and made a tasty soup out of them. It turned out OK for the first try.

    Anyone have any ideas on lunchmeat? I’m sick of getting slimy, stringy meat from grocery store delis and have considered cooking my own turkey breast but am worried about not eating it all before it goes bad.

  25. Megan says:

    “I am going to try making my own stocks soon – never done it before. I didn’t know you could add the gizzards. Do you know if you can freeze the bones then make a big batch of stock later?”

    Andy, I never make stock from one carcass as I am too lazy. I put carcasses and juices into ziploc bags and leave in the freezer until I have three to work with. Then I put them all in one big pot with a couple of onions, 4 large carrots, 3 sticks celery, a few peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and a small bunch of parsley. Fill it all up with water and just let it quietly simmer away for 4-6 hours or until it tastes good. There is no discernible difference between the frozen carcass and the fresh.

  26. rachel says:

    Meal One: Brown a whole chicken in a Dutch oven breast side down for 5 minutes. Turn it breast up, sprinkle some garlic, rosemary and chopped onions and celery around and brown for five minutes more. Put the lid on the pot (make sure it fits tightly), and roast it in a 250 oven for about 45 minutes (for 2~3 lbs chickens) to 90 minutes (4~5 lbs chickens). The chicken will be moist and tender, and there’ll be some lovely jus in the pot after you strain out the vegetables.

    Meal two (and three, if your bird is large): Chicken salad, sandwiches, enchiladas made from leftover roast chicken…

    Meal three (or four): Make stock from the picked-over roast chicken and use it in French onion soup.

  27. Johanna says:

    Can’t you get bigger or smaller zucchini so that you’re using one or two instead of one and a half? Whenever I buy zucchini at the farmer’s market, the ones available vary in size by at least a factor of two. I’d think that that would be preferable to having a bag of cut-up vegetables sitting in the fridge for several weeks.

  28. Kevin says:

    Trent –

    Marvelous post. I roast a whole chicken at 250*F for 4-5 hours… after rinsing and drying the bird, just apply a spicy dry rub to the skin, season the cavity and stuff it with quartered onions, and let it go. Tender, moist, delicious. But that’s only the beginning, as you point out… Thanks!


  29. hippykidz says:

    I get a minimum of four dinners from a whole bird. Using a variety of the same techniques above. If the bird is large enough the meals will yeild at least one lunch portion of left overs. I have a background in food service and sometimes forget that this stuff is not just something everyone does. You know “todays special is tommorrows soup” and all.

  30. Desiree says:

    There are too many unhealthy pieces on a whole chicken to justify buying one.

  31. Amber says:

    I keep a container in the freezer for all my vegetable scraps. Whenever we prep vegetables (for us, that’s a lot), we dump all the little bits from the tops of carrots to onion skins into the container. When it gets full, I’ll make a batch of vegetable broth. It prevents us from ever having to buy stock, and makes me feel less bad about not having an opportunity to compost.

    I should mention that we do leave out things that would make the stock bitter with long cooking — asparagus ends, cauliflower stems, etc.

  32. Rory says:

    Another way to save money when dealing with Chicken and Turkey – instead of buying boneless meat, buy bone in meat and remove the bone yourself. Save the bones in the freezer, and in a short time you have more than enough bones to make stock.

    I did a price comparison for myself bone-in vs bone-out chicken, I weighed the amount of meat I was able to get off the bone and calculated the cost. I was able to save 10 cents a pound by removing the bone myself, and I now always have an abundant supply of chicken stock in my freezer (we used to use at least one box of stock a week) which saves $3 a week (at least).

    This is good for those people who don’t want to deal with a whole chicken all the time. I follow the same theory as you when the roasting chickens are on sale of the store.


  33. Joy says:

    34, single and never cooked a bird in my life. (I’ve gladly eaten them though).

    I’m totally getting into cooking, frugal living, recycling…and well, this combines all three.

    Excellent post.

  34. Sarah G says:

    I did this the other week and it is really deceptively simple. I’ve often bought whole chicken to cook in the crock pot, but this was the first time I’d ever used the “other stuff” to make chicken stock. Not only was it really cheap (mine was 0.89/lb) but it felt really good not to throw away any unused parts – it’s cheap and less wasteful!

  35. partgypsy says:

    We do this all the time. Just last week had roasted chicken with veggies, then my hubby pulled off all the leftover pieces and sauteed them with bits of onion, cilantro, and enchilada sauce for yummy tacos, then boiled the carcass for stock. He stores the stock in our freezer in large yogurt containers.

    Strange as it sound my hubby often prepares the chicken by simply boiling it. You can throw herbs, boullion in the water if you like. The carcass is then fully stripped to make a mess of enchiladas, chicken chili, etc.

  36. Anna says:

    What to do with a big zucchini (too large and tough to be very palatable):

    Grate it. Cook the grated zucchini in a little butter and/or olive oil with salt and pepper, stirring it as it cooks, and watching it carefully so as not to burn it.

    Serve at dinner as a vegetable. Save the leftovers for a delicious cream of zucchini soup.

  37. Matt says:

    I buy the frozen chicken in bulk from my local Meijer or Costco when they have their respective half-off sales or coupons. I end up getting whole chicken breasts or tenders for <$1.80/lb. I currently have 26lb of chicken in my freezer, lol.

    This is about twice the price per pound of a whole chicken, but it’s all white chicken meat. No preparation, no paying $.89/lb for bones and gizzards, etc. I can’t argue that homemade chicken broth tastes better than the store-brand cans I could buy for $.50 a can, but I find the buy-frozen-in-bulk chicken to be a far better deal when considering time, waste and convenience.

    Am I the only one? haha. And yes, frozen chicken vs. farm-raised isn’t comparable, but you mentioned the cheap store chicken, so I thought I’d add my $.02.

    BTW: Even with the frozen chicken breasts, if you thaw and then cook them with a little EVOO, you can get a good bit of concentrated broth. Pour them into ice cube trays, and all you need to do when you want some broth is add one to your slow cooker, or in a pot of stew, etc. Nice and convenient.

  38. Dave says:

    I’m sortof with the woman. I can get skinned chicken breasts for $1.99/lb (on sale). Just take it home and throw it on the grill (or shake some seasoning on it first). Might not be 88 cents, but I’m not paying for skin, bones, or organs I might not want, and it’s quite a bit easier.

  39. Sods says:

    One “Martha Stewart” type idea, instead of freezing the stock directly in the freezer bags, put it in ice cube trays, then once solid, remove cubes and add these to a freezer bag. this way you have much more manageable sizes, and these can be used in sauces and stuff, not just in bulk for soup.

  40. Lisa says:

    At savingdinner.com, she calls this Rubber Chicken because she stretches the bird into so many meals.

  41. Sods says:

    you can get chicken breasts for 1.99 on sale? best I ever see around here (Ontario, Canada) is 3.99 on sale. And our dollar is close enough to USD most days that the currency difference is negligible.

  42. TJ says:

    I always buy whole chickens, unless I find thigh or hindquarters at less than $1 a pound. Right now whole Washington grown chickens are 49 cents a pound at my favorite store. You can bet I stocked up!

  43. BonzoGal says:

    Roast a whole chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, and when its done, add just a little bit of butter to the bottom of the pan, and a little thyme (fresh or dried), swirl it around and pour it over the chicken. It makes an incredible sauce. A dash of white wine, cooking sherry, lemon juice or vermouth is also good in the sauce.

    I have a Sunset Magazine recipe for giblet gravy that is incredibly good- I never liked giblets much until I started making this. Now absolutely nothing goes to waste when I cook chicken or turkey!

  44. Dave says:

    Great post! I’ve been doing this with chicken – and turkey! – for years.

    I’ve not done all the math but, given the cost of canned chicken stock, I figure I get enough stock out of this procedure to effectively render the poultry free. I roasted a 22lb turkey about three weeks ago. It yielded a little over 10 lbs. of cooked meat and more than 2 GALLONS of delicious stock!

    Yes, I have a large freezer in my basement! And a vacuum sealer.

    And I am glad the commenter above mentioned the schmaltz! I suggest everyone roast their chicken/turkey in a v-rack (I have to try the beer can idea!) and let all the goo drip off. Pour the drippings into a large measuring cup (a gravy separator, where the spout is a tube extending from the bottom is very handy) and refrigerate it for an hour. Skim some fat from the top and use that for a base for gravy. There’s nothing like it!

    When you are ready to cook down the carcass(get a big dutch oven for this), use some more schmaltz to brown whatever vegetables you plan to use. Take a few minutes to break the carcass into smaller, more manageable parts and brown those as well. After a few minutes, scoop as much of the mess as you can into a large bowl and set aside. You should have a pretty good “fonde” in the bottom of the pot. Deglaze it with the remaining liquid or beer or whatever. Then add all the browned veggies and parts back in, cover with water and bring to a boil, then turn it down to simmer and let it go all day. This extra step will yield an incredibly rich, tasty broth with a really pleasant medium brown color and incridible aroma. You’ll never use canned or (ech!) bullion cubes again!

    As for the vegetables for your stock, whenever I am trimming the ends off carrots, celery, etc. I toss them in a freezer bag and save for up to a month in the freezer. I do the same with any fresh veggies in my refrigerator that are about to be past their prime. I clean them first by soaking them in a the sink in cold water with a small amount of apple cider vinegar, rinse well and give them a go-round in the salad spinner. NOTHING gets wasted or thrown out in my house!

  45. Alison says:

    I’m a big fan of saving dinner’s “Rubber Chicken” and I try to make it at least once a month. However, there’s no way that one 4lb chicken will feed my family of 4 for 3 (and even 4) meals! My son and stepson are both only 5 years old, and are already eating enough to ensure that I can get only 1 meal and a batch of soup stock out of 1 chicken. If I want leftovers for lunch or a second meal, I have to roast 2 chickens.

    I like the leftover veggie freezer bag idea a lot, and I will definitely try that one out. In a similar vein, I often save veggie trimmings (tops of carrots, ends of celery, etc) to toss into the stock pot. I’ve never kept the onion tips or paper, as PJ Wyatt suggested, but I’m going to start adding those bits to my stock pot freezer bag – great tip!

    As well, whenever I steam veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, I save the liquid. An old roommate, who was a health food nut, insisted this liquid was filled with vitamins, and would reserve it and then later drink it straight up! I didn’t enjoy this one, but I still reserve the liquid to add to soups or stock.

  46. Mister E says:

    When I eat chicken it’s either in whole bird form or thighs if they’ve been on a nice sale. Boneless, skinless breasts are one of the biggest rip offs in butchery.

    I always freeze my bones and I freeze ends of carrots and celery and whatnot that I cut off when preparing dinner veg and when I have enough I throw it all in a pot and make a batch of stock essentially for free since it’s all just leftovers, nothing was purchased exclusively for the stock. I freeze it in freezer bags and have a wonderful base for soups and sauces whenever I want it, the ice cube tray thing works very well too.

    There is NO part of a chicken that should ever go to waste.

    Does it work for turkey too? Of course it does.

  47. Matt says:

    I buy the bulk bag of frozen chicken breasts. It’s not the Tyson trimmed-and-ready chicken (I boycott Tyson, anyway :)).

    I actually think I overestimated the cost. From what I can remember, I get 6lb of frozen chicken breast for 11.99 regular price, and half-off it’s actually about $1/lb. I need to look into this more :)

  48. caryn verell says:

    always go for the whole bird! many meals can come from just one three lb chicken. too many times people get just the parts or the already cooked for convenience sake and because they have not been interested in doing things the old fashioned way..or lack forthought due to necessity. you can do the same thing with a good high quality meat such as ground sirloin/ground round. every meal in this house is turned into many meals for the future.

  49. tambo says:

    I keep a couple of gallon-sized freezer bags in the freezer just for things like this. I toss chicken bones in one (even raw ones from when I de-bone bone in breasts and thighs) and all of my veggie scraps in the other. When a bag gets full, I fire up the crock pot and make chicken or veggie stock. I don’t use much stock in the summer, but all fall/winter long I make soups and stews and things. It’s amazing how much more flavor and depth you get from homemade stock. Turkey stock is excellent too and I most always make a batch right after Thanksgiving.

    I keep telling myself I’ll make beef stock some day, but the dog has other plans for the few beef bones we get. lol

  50. Solar says:

    What’s funny is I am always the guy picking up the legs and thighs in the discount packs. I take all of the chicken thighs, marinate them in Worcestershire sauce for 2 hours and then coat them in a bbq sauce of my choice. I can get 4lbs of thighs for about $3. This can feed my meat needs for DAYS!!!

  51. Eden says:

    I never thought to freeze leftover vegetables. What a great tip!

  52. Stephanie says:

    Did you really mean to use 2 Tablespoons of salt – shouldn’t it be 2 teaspoons? That would be one very salty bird!

  53. Amanda B. says:

    Ok, I didn’t want to throw a wrench into our cheap chicken love fest, but…
    Even “free range” chicken doesn’t count for much. It just means they have a small door they are to scared to go out of.

  54. mouse says:

    i read somewhere that you can give the neck and gizzards to dogs. you have to cook it, of course.

  55. tony says:

    The chicken on the beer can actually has a name believe it or not. In the south it’s called a “drunken chicken”. My father has enjoyed cooking chicken that way my entire life. Me and my wife cook whole chickens regularly. Using much of the same steps you have here Trent. Awesome article. In fact I was eating some of the “left over goodies” today for lunch. Also just a side note. My wife calls the whole chicken a “fryer” not sure why.

  56. fern says:

    You may be frugal in terms of using the whole chicken, but you neglected to mention anything about the energy you’re using to cook it.

    Simmering the chicken for “all day” or “4 hours minimum” is not what i consider frugal use of power,and it’s really not necessary to make a good pot of soup or broth. 1 hour is plenty.

  57. Amphritrite says:

    Chicken goes on sale a lot in my area, and full roasters often hit $.69/lb throughout the fall and winter. That’s $3-$5 for a full chicken. For my household, that’s six servings of meat, two days worth of sandwiches (four sandwiches), a huge tureen of stock (easily 20-30 servings, minimum).

    All in all? That’s very close to two months of meals out of one chicken for my family, especially after you start using the stock in things like rice, or soups, or breads, or stir fry, or … (and the list goes on).

    On top of it, homemade chicken stock has less than 10% of the salt commercial soups have in them!

  58. Chris says:

    My husband (then boyfriend) was totally amazed when I did this the first time for him. Like others, I also save things like celery tops, carrot ends, etc. to throw into stock. The best addition flavor wise, I think, are leeks. They make the broth really great.
    We are currently throwing beef bones into a bag in the freezer so we can try some beef broth as well. We almost have enough to try it.

    With chicken, one other thing I do is after roasting and picking off a decent amount of the meat, I leave some of it on the bird, and throw it into the stock pot. Once the stock is made, I strain it, pick the remaining meat off, halve the stock and make chicken soup with half and freeze the rest. You can make really simple noodles/dumplings with flour/water/salt or flour/milk/salt or flour/eggs/milk or water/salt, etc.
    Last time I did this we ate from the roast chicken once, put about 6 cups of broth in the freezer and had enough 2 cup servings of chicken noodle soup for several days worth of lunches.

  59. Melinda says:

    After it’s cooled, you’ll need to scrape off the fat that rises to the top. If you put the stock in the fridge or freezer for awhile it solidifies and makes it much easier!

    The stock and leftover chicken pieces make great soup!

  60. Sense says:

    what happens to the carrots and other veggies you cook the gizzards with to make stock? Do you just throw them away (I assume it’d be annoying to pick them out in the midst of all the gizzards/bones)?

    sorry for my ignorance, my idea of ‘cooking’ is to heat up a microwave meal…I’m lookin to change that.

  61. Sense says:

    Hmmm, i just remembered–I moved to New Zealand recently and I don’t have an oven in my apartment…just 2 cooktops (but you can only use one at a time) and a microwave. Looks like frozen meals are going to be my staple for a while longer!

  62. Sean says:

    I loved the idea of putting the beer can inside. But please be aware that cans are coated with polymers and colors which cannot stand 300C and might be poisonous. I wish we could use something without color and coating. I would be happy if you can tell me what was the purpose of a beer can. Is it supposed to distribute the heat or is it a matter of flavor?

  63. Dave says:


    On the energy-use issue, I would put that into the category of “if you want to make an omelette, you’ve gotta break a few eggs.” I got more than 2 gallons of stock out of that 22lb. turkey. A very quick google search just now led me to a source where I can buy a case (12 16oz. cartons) of Swanson’s chicken broth for about $26 (http://www.buythecase.net/product/6927/swanson_natural_goodness_100_fat_free_all_natural_chicken_broth/?engine=googlebase) That’s 192 oz. Two gallons is 256 oz. So I got about $35 worth of stock IN ADDITION to over 10 lbs. of cooked meat. I don’t know what my gas/electric cost for that was, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    The energy consumed will vary from person to person depending on where they live and the type of equipment they use. I have a very large leCrueset cast-iron-and-enamel dutch oven that I use and it conducts and holds heat so effectively I don’t have to have the flame up very high to get a good steady low simmer. It does warm up the kitchen a bit but from October thru March that’s not a problem. I can also put the whole thing in the oven at about 250 degrees and it does a wonderful job.

    I’ll put in a plug here: I sell appliances for a living and if you are in the market for a new range/stove, buy a Bosch dual-fuel (gas cooktop/electric oven)- you won’t be sorry! It’s not inexpensive – MSRP is $2000 (I got mine at cost, of course) but I would argue that it DOES save energy. With the oven set on “convection roast” and using the built-in temperature probe, I roasted that 22 lb. turkey in just 2 1/2 hours! Most people would roast it two hours longer than that, using more energy and getting dry, tasteless meat.

  64. BonzoGal says:

    @Sense, you can definitely make soups and stews with a cooktop, so don’t give up! And sauteeing or pan-frying chicken works well too.

    And yes, I toss out the onion ends and such from the stock. It’s not annoying to pick them out- you just strain the stock through a colander or strainer. If you cook the stock long enough, the meat falls off the bones, so it’s not much trouble to pick them out. The veggies at that point are pretty mushy.

  65. Kate says:

    I buy whole non-hormone and antiobiotic fed chickens on sale and roast four of them at a time.
    I have enough for dinner, and then chicken salad, and then I freeze the rest in quantities that I can just pull out of the freezer and use. Makes for superfast meals. I also freeze the carcasses and bring them out later for soups–there is enough meat left to pick off and put back in the soup.
    There is a lot of skin, broth, etc. and I cook rice in it for my dogs–they love it and it stretches the dog food and is probably a lot better for them anyway. It’s not as cheap as it used to be because rice has gone up but it is still worth it.

  66. ImJuniperNow says:

    I think you’re way off in writing that cooking the chicken soup all day costs 50 cents for gas/electric.

  67. Bender says:

    OK, I’m being snarky, but is it really a revelation to any normal adult that you can make stock from a chicken carcass? Apparently to a lot of people, it is! Maybe that woman in the supermarket used to buy the whole chicken, eat the breast and throw the rest away!

    @42 Never give a dog cooked chicken bones. Raw chicken necks are great for them though.

  68. de says:

    I often use clean onion skin, carrot peels, celery leaves and herb stems in stock instead of the whole veggies, further reducing the cost. When chickens are cheap, I simmer four in my large pasta pot with the strainer in it to make removing the solids easier and have lots of broth and cut up chicken for pot pie, dumplings, crock pot enchiladas, tacos….

  69. Pam says:

    Here in southern California, I usually buy whole chickens… locally grown stuff has gone on sale recently for as low as 59 cents per pound. I walked into WinCo Foods one night (they almost never advertise, so I don’t shop there as often), and they had a different brand of whole chickens on sale for 48 cents per pound. Have also bought the 10-pound bags of leg quarters for as low as 49 cents per pound.

    I rarely buy any kind of meat at full price (full price for chicken here is in the $1.69/lb. range). I pore over the food ads, and then I stock up. I bought a used 12-cubic ft. freezer some years ago for only $50 plus the truck rental, and it has saved me a lot of money.

    Our cash flow isn’t good enough to go for free-range or organic anything yet, so I make do with what I can buy. We do eat an awful lot of chicken.

    We only eat red meat when it’s on sale. Have found London Broil (thick top round) for about $1.87, and Tri-Tip for about $1.99 recently.

    I do buy ground meat once in a while, but I need to take some time to try out a meat grinder I bought (ostensibly to use for making raw pet food, but of course it will work for human food too). It will be far cheaper if I buy a bunch of London Broil and then grind it up, than to buy preground meat ($2.50 to $3.00 per lb.).

    I have made chicken/turkey/beef stock at times, but time is very tight. We both work full-time and then some.

    Frankly, though, we both really like to eat, so one chicken doesn’t last for more than a meal and a snack (average chicken here is about 4-1/2 pounds).

    I don’t like leftovers very much (flavors start to turn), so sometimes I feed the leftover chicken (cut up) to some abandoned cats in the neighborhood. My own cats are too snooty for leftovers, but the outside ones gobble it down. LOL.

  70. Monica says:

    I’ve done this a lot as well. After Thanksgiving Day, I will usually freeze all the bones and stuff and then later make a bunch of stock. My favorite pizza I’ve ever made was roasted chicken, onions and garlic. The whole family thoroughly enjoyed it. There is so much to do with leftover roasted chicken! I buy the most you can buy (limited to four at my store) when they go on sale!

  71. Kelly says:

    I love baking a whole chicken . I stuff mine with chopped celery and onion , and then use the celery and onion to make a nice dressing (stuffing) .
    If you serve a gravy and a stuffing , meat portions can then be smaller , it is probably why our grandmothers cooked a variety of dishes to serve with meat.Everyone left the table full , without large meat portions.
    We eat the leftovers. I often make chicken and rice with them .

    I also buy chicken tenders when they are on sale for $2.00 or less a package . One package of tenders will make a whole pan of lemon ,chicken fettucini and enough chicken salad for 4 + sandwiches on buns or croissants .
    I add raw shredded cabbage to my chicken salad to stretch it and it adds fiber .

  72. Great tips. My wife and I will always buy whole chickens as much as possible since we can have multiple meals from one purchase. We usually save a chicken breast and shred it up the next day for a sandwich or sometimes we will make a chicken pasta. The best part is keeping the bones which definitely makes a great stock. I have always heard that a beer can chicken tastes amazing, but I haven’t tried it yet. I wish I had a BBQ.

  73. Jillian says:

    Desiree says “There are too many unhealthy pieces on a whole chicken to justify buying one.”

    I’m not sure I follow. Which bits are unhealthy, exactly?

    Alison says “As well, whenever I steam veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, I save the liquid. An old roommate, who was a health food nut, insisted this liquid was filled with vitamins, and would reserve it and then later drink it straight up!”

    I’ve always thought this too (although admittedly never actually done it). But recently I heard that unless you’re buying organic veges, you’re likely to just be drinking a whole lot of pesticide, and that’s put me right off using vege water for anything…

    I do my chicken in the crockpot too, and then once I’ve picked over the bones, I chuck the whole lot back into the warm crockpot with some water and veges and leave it going overnight to make stock.

  74. TParkerson says:

    For all of you that have not tried beer can chicken…do so today! My DH is an award winning BBQ’er and makes some of the most incredible dishes with beer butt chicken, as we call it at my house.

    We make stock and always try to use all the parts/pieces too. One thing that I do that perhaps others haven’t tried is that instead of throwing the stock strainings away, I dump them in the blender and make bone meal for my dogs. (We have 3 of the beasts!) This is full of vitamins and calcium, and a good deal of fat which is awesome for their skin and coats. Be sure to process until it is a very fine slurry, since fowl bones of any kind are brittle and will splinter, causing injury to your pet. I know mine love chicken meal on their chow…anytime they hear the blender, they think it is for them!!

    Happy chicken cooking to you all!!

  75. Suzy says:

    Why even waste the bones? You can pressure cook them until they are soft, then thoroughly mash them up. I mix it into my dogs’ food, and LOVE it. It is also very healthy.
    Basically, you take the bones, add some water and a little vinegar (the acid is what softens the bones), and pressure cook it for about 45 minutes. I do a couple of carcasses at a time.
    Just Google “pressure cook chicken bones” and you will get several hits, with specific instructions.
    Incidentally, pressure cooking seems to have become a lost art. It is very energy efficient–the captured steam is doing most of the work for you–so your cooking times are dramatically reduced.
    There is a minor issue of the risk of blowing up your kitchen–I’m not even sure that they sell pressure cookers any more–but they are safe if you follow the directions.

  76. Jamie says:

    You can also take the bargain-priced whole chicken to the butcher’s counter and ask them to cut it for you. It’s still the same per pound price and now you have a professionally cut up chicken for fried chicken instead of the more expensive pre-wrapped pieces in the cooler.

  77. another crockpot recipe: put a whole chicken (innards removed) into the crockpot and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of old bay seasoning. heat on low for 7 hours. deliciously moist and you can go on to do the other things mentioned in the original post.

  78. KM Hosfelt says:

    Yes you can cook the whole chicken and use the leftovers for other meals. Which I do from time to time. However when whole chickens are on sale I will buy them and butcher them myself and freeze the parts. Once you do it a few times it become very easy and quick. Since there are only two I am cooking for this is way more cost effective. The bonus here it is easier to “reinvent” the parts that my significant other traditionally won’t eat. Thighs for example. They can be use for bar-b-que pizza, pulled chicken sandwiches, casseroles, soups and stews. One thing I like to do is use various parts a thigh, wing, drumstick and breast and make oven fried chicken a favorite in my house. I still save the bones and freeze in a separate bag from all my veggies ends carrot peels, onion, garlic, potato peels, celery tips tomatoes (no coniferous veggies though broccoli cabbage and the such)throw into a pot for stock. My Italian heritage combined with my Yankee roots just won’t let allow me to waste anything. I am the leftover queen and the empress of frugal shopping.

  79. KM Hosfelt says:

    One other tip when buying whole birds. Go for the heavy birds. Since the skeleton is basically the same same and weigh compared to the total weight of the bird, you will get more meat to bone ratio from a heaveier bird. Ergo more savings.

  80. Ellen says:

    If you want to calculate the cost of appliances, you can go here: http://pge.com/myhome/saveenergymoney/resources/appliancecalculator/index.shtml. For my zip code, your 4 hours at 50 cents was about spot on.

  81. Katy says:

    I’m curious about freezing the shredded chicken leftovers…I’ve read that freezing them without any kind of sauce will make the pieces dry and more prone to freezer-burn. Ick! Do you just put the pieces in a bag and freeze them, or do you prep them in some way to keep them from getting dried out and nasty?

    BTW, LOVE this site!

  82. doctorS says:

    I love chicken. I do not eat beef. I am throwing a whole chicken in a crock pot tonight and I will let you know how it turns out! Thanks! Be easy.

  83. Dawn says:

    This is not a frugal tip even remotely, but since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve been buying whole chickens from my CSA. While more costly, I know that the chickens are “free range,” since my 4 year old visits them every week when we go to pick up our vegetable box! They are also very, very tasty!

  84. Sandy says:

    I’ve been doing this, too, for years,,,what a great money stretcher! The family of 4, however, keep growing and eating more at my house, so I’m left with less meat than in earlier years, so I always try to find the bird that is the meatiest.
    One of the best tips anyone ever gave me was to use Kosher salt (rather than regular salt). A box lasts years, and gives an amazing taste that I never got with regular salt. I use it on pork roasts, lamb, beef….When I make meat for a potluck, everyone is dying to know how I got the flavor of the meat like that…(I only tell a select few however!:)

  85. gonghe says:

    Wow, that women sure is missing out on some serious savings! I get a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken from Costco for $6.99 (it used to cost $4.99, then it went up to $5.99 then to $6.49 and finally now at $6.99! — still a good deal) which usually weighs between 4-5lbs. each and I can get 10+ meals out it! My husbands debones the entire chicken and with all the meat, I can get four full dinners for me and my husband, plus 2 lunch meals. We have two toddlers under the age of 5 so they don’t eat much to count them! I’ll also save some of the meat and make cheese quesadillas, another full dinner meal. I save ALL the bones and carcass and some of the white meat from the breast and make one big pot of congee. I add a few slices of ginger, dried bean-curd, dried scallops, rice and water in a crock-pot and that usually yields at least 3 full meals for the both of us (6 big bowls of cooked congee).

    Total, that works out to about $0.55/meal for each of us!!

  86. Allie says:

    This is a big one in my house. We live on one income and are both full-time college students. What we buy, we buy as cheaply as possible, and stretch as far as we can.

    In addition to using chicken this way, we also make enormous batches of meat sauce (it cost about 15 dollars but makes around 10 meals worth of sauce) and other such things. Meat has taken a secondary role in our diet, being used in only small amounts rather than as the feature item in any meal. By using 1/4 the amount of meat we’d normally use in a meal, we still get the satisfaction of having meat in our food w/o the cost. Adding in beans, rice, etc., makes up the difference in bulk.

    The “tip” I started this long-winded post to give, however, was about vegetable and fruit scraps.

    We make homemade sodas, using carbonated water and homemade fruit syrups. When I make an apple cake, I save the core and peel of the apples, then use them to infuse a simple syrup (1:1 sugar:water, brought to a boil, allowed to boil for 1 minute, then turn the heat off and add whatever you’re infusing it w/ – ginger slices (after infusing, dry them on low heat in your oven to have cheap crystalised ginger to cook w/), apple bits, mint, lemon, etc). We use this syrup to flavour water cheaply.

    Additionally, the peels and ends of all vegetables (and often, citrus fruits) sit in a plastic bag in the freezer. I don’t even worry about using a sealed bag to prevent freezer burn. When the bag is full, I make a huge batch of vegetable stock. If I have bones saved, then I end up making a meat stock. I usually get several litres a month this way. The broth is so flavourful – so much more than you can buy, and often has little subtleties to it provided from mushroom ends, asparagus bottoms, artichoke bits, lemon rinds, onion skins and so much more. Anything I’d normally consider “waste” is tossed in the bag and used later. I think this saves me a good deal of money, given that a litre of stock costs $2-5, and I never have had less than 10-12 litres/month that I was able to get from these bits of waste. By leaving the stock unsalted, I can use it to cook beans in as well, which adds a new dimension of flavour to our food.

  87. liv says:

    yeah, i cut up and bag the pieces of chicken, then i get the entire carcass into the slow cooker, add some veggies, water, and make soup. doesn’t always have to be stock, it can actually be a soup too. if you even throw some noodles in there, BAM, instant chicken noodle soup for the next day. Just pull out the bones beforehand.

  88. Justin says:

    As #1 said, a whole rotisserie chicken costs about $4.99 at grocery store, you don’t have to pay to cook it the first time, and you still have leftovers, and you can still make chicken stock out of it. Plus, you don’t have to worry about salmonella or bacteria, because it is fully cooked. My grocery store even has about 5-7 different seasonings so we don’t even have to have the same type of chicken every time.

  89. Cathy Braun says:

    When I was getting serious about getting rid of debt, I started thinking about what my World War II/depression era grandma would have done. She was raised in a generation where they didn’t waste anything. One of the things I came to was whole chickens. I bought only whole chickens and learned how to cut them up.

    I was very sloppy at first, but now I’m very skilled with it. I get butcher quality cuts, and I can do it in less than 15 minutes, including the time it takes to pack pieces I’m not going to use right away and vacuum seal to freeze. With remaining bones, I throw in a pot with water, carrots, onion and celery. The broth gets frozen in 1 cup packets that I use in everything from rice, sauces, stews, soups, and more. I get a lot of value from a $5 whole chicken, and can stretch it very far.

    Cutting up and prepping a whole chicken really doesn’t take much time once you do it it a lot. I’m a full time professional, and I wouldn’t do it if it took a lot of time. I make heavy use of the crockpot, and most of my weekday meals I can make in 30 minutes or less, including prep time. I do all my chopping, dicing, and chicken cutting on the weekend when I have the time. I enjoy it. It would have made my grandma proud that I am prepping whole food the old way, even in this day of packaged prepared foods.

  90. asithi says:

    Don’t forget the great nutritional value found in a whole chicken. According to Betty Crocker, the average chicken is 2 pounds, yielding 2 cups of white meat and 1 cup of dark meat. That is a total of 987 calories for the entire rotisserie chicken without the skin.

  91. Battra92 says:

    Honestly, “Free Range” chickens are a joke and a waste of money. Just raise your own if you want to be sure where they are coming from.

    Of course, I’m a carnivore who has relatives who farm and frankly, I don’t care much about the comfort of chickens.

  92. A in NC says:

    Learning how to at least bone chicken breasts is a great use of your time and saves a lot of money.
    Learning to be self sufficient is always a good use of your time.
    Remember, if someone in the US is doing the task for you, they are earning minimum wage. Do you really feel like paying someone else minimum wage to bone your chicken breasts for you?

  93. Francisco says:

    Something to do with the leftovers is mix them up with mashed avocado and some salt, and make sandwiches with that paste. It’s very popular here in Chile, as a healthier alternative to other sandwiches.

  94. chef tell says:

    Simmering stock for about an hour is all you need to get the tasty goodness out of the chicken bones etc.Same with the veggies etc.

    However if you want to cook it gently for 4 hours plus, what you get (assuming you leave it uncovered at least partially) is a Reduced stock, which is more concentrated and with deeper flavors, which I’m sure is what the writer meant.

  95. Amy says:

    There are great visual instructions online for how to cut up a raw whole chicken into parts, how to bone those parts, and how to carve a cooked chicken. It’s actually kind of fun to cut up the whole raw chicken. Great stress reliever. Make sure you have a really good, really sharp knife.

    Re: leftover veg – whenever we have leftover veggies at dinner (corn, peas, carrots, green beans, lima beans, even Northern beans, black beans or chick peas… etc.), I put them in a big tupperware container in the freezer. When the container gets full, I’ll use some leftover meat (chicken, but beef is great), some broth, and a can or two of diced tomatoes (juice and all) to make vegetable soup. Add some barley to make it even more filling, and barley is CHEAP.

    Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

  96. Chui says:

    Here’s a video of the Chinese way of boning chicken.


  97. Alex says:

    Again with the washing…. USDA says NOT to wash as properly cooking will kill any bugs.

  98. PG says:

    Don’t forget tanduri chicken whole! Incredibly easy to make.

  99. murphyslawyer says:

    @Macinac – I never had a problem with the can burning or the paint. It’s fairly well insulated being inside the bird and having liquid inside it.

    Do your research though, what’s good enough for me may not be for you. Google “beer butt chicken”.

  100. JP says:

    Taking a cue from my Italian friends, I roast the bones in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour before putting them in water to make broth.
    It makes the broth.
    There’s no need to include the meat left over in the broth; its a waste.
    Don’t forget the garlic.
    Great post.

  101. Fermat says:

    I’ve been making beer can chicken since the early 80’s. If you want to take it to another level try dry brining it. Rub the chicken down first with crushed garlic and your selected assortment of herbs. Now comes the important part, so take a deep breath, here we go. Cover the chicken with kosher salt. Literally cover it. It has to look like a salt lick. Now let it sit for an hour or so in the fridge. Next, and this is important, rinse off the salt. Twice. Pat it dry and cook as before. You’ll find that the salt has penetrated the chicken and taken the garlic and herbs with it so that every bite will be seasoned.

  102. June says:

    Very helpful post. We are actually raising our own chickens. It is a first for me and my husband. We bought day-old chicks so we could raise them for eggs. We bought more than we needed so we could eat a few of them, and also as they are growing we are discovering a few of our ‘girls’ are maturing differently than we expected (we have a few unexpected boys i the mix).

    They are smaller than the birds you buy at the store, but they still make an excelent broth.

  103. hg says:

    I bought a rotisseried chicken at the grocery store yesterday for $7.50. I picked out every drop of edible meat and weighed it – it yielded exactly 1 pound of meat – the rest was all skin, fat and bone (which will go into stock, then be strained out for dog food). That is very little actual meat.

  104. Todd says:

    Definitely check out youtube if you want to learn how to bone a chicken yourself.


  105. Nick Howes says:

    Of course, there’s also the book “Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones: Foolproof Instructions for Budding Paleontologists”.

  106. Jim says:

    What I really wanted to find out from reading this was what the weight of the bones in a whole chicken weighed. Do the bones/skin/waste pieces make up 1/3rd of the weigh or closer to 1/2?

    The article began with a idea… “is it better to buy a whole fryer or skinless boneless breast”. So the question i have is what is the weight of the bones and skin.

    Sure I make broth with my waste parts. But organic chicken broth can be purchase too. When calculating the total costs of each you need the facts.

  107. jim says:

    Wow this will be very helpful when I get those low paychecks ha.

  108. Kitty says:

    I use the “stock” method all the time. But, I leave out the chickie, as I’m a vegetarian. I, too, save the carrot tops, etc. to make a stunning, peppery vegetable broth. I then cook dried beans it in. The imparted flavor would make even a carnivore love dried beans!!!

  109. abc says:

    Nice! Except, I dunno what kind of family you have but one small chicken and a cup or two of vegetables would NOT feed my family for TWO meals! Maybe one but definitely not two… and DEFINITELY DEFINITELY not two AND with enough leftover chicken meat to make a stir fry or chicken tacos or something. So I think you’re exaggerating how much money you can save…

    Beer can chicken is delicious, by the way! I endorse it :)

  110. steve says:

    @ chef tell and the earlier poster who wrote, ”

    “Simmering the chicken for “all day” or “4 hours minimum” is not what i consider frugal use of power,and it’s really not necessary to make a good pot of soup or broth. 1 hour is plenty.”

    This is incorrect. It take at least four hours to get the cartilage to gelatinize out of the bones and joints.

    If you’ve been doing it for only an hour for your whole life, you’ve been missing out on an important aspect of stock.

    This doesn’t take a lot of energy when you use a covered pot and have the heat on low–a simmer is anywhere from 180-190F, not boiling.

    And such a stock is not “reduced” at all–it is simmered with the pan cover on and hence little moisture escapes.

  111. steve says:

    @ #103 hg @ 12:32 am August 27th, 2008

    I bought a rotisseried chicken at the grocery store yesterday for $7.50. I picked out every drop of edible meat and weighed it – it yielded exactly 1 pound of meat – the rest was all skin, fat and bone (which will go into stock, then be strained out for dog food). That is very little actual meat.”

    Yes, and that is why it is much more economical to buy 7-8 lb roaster chickens as opposed to 3 lb fryer chickens. It seem sot me that there is a big difference in the ratio of muscle to bone between the two sized of chickens sold for cooking.

  112. RabdZGood says:

    I pressure cook just the the carcass and gizzard after picking the meat. I don’t care for the flavor of cooking the liver with it.

    Add a couple of bay leaves to flavor the broth, cover the bones with water.

    I started to write the details of how to but here is an excellent article instead:


    The above suggestion of using veggie trimmings instead of vegetables is a great idea as long as they are clean. Heat diminishes the flavor of salt so for the sake of lower sodium I never include it when making broth.

    The broth seems to freeze better with the fat on it and since I feed the bones to my dogs and cats the fat is a treat for them at a later time when I use the broth.

    My pressure cooker is not only a time saver but saves energy as well since it still cooks after the stove is turned off.

  113. Diane says:

    I followed your idea but I thought it seemed a waste to strain and throw out all the stuff that made the broth, so I salvaged as much of the meat, celery and onions as I reasonably could (the bones had come apart so much it was a little difficult) and then used that in a pasta sauce.

    By the way, when I served the wings and legs for dinner, the compliment I received was that it was the tastiest chicken ever. It really is better tasting than the boneless, skinless stuff.

  114. Shell says:

    I think this one is right on the money. Although, I don’t eat meat. I used to get two meals for four from one chicken. Even if you only have enough chicken to go in soup the second day, it saves money. This is if you eat what is recommended for a serving, per person, per meal. I guess you could eat pounds and pounds of meat and say it isn’t economical, but, hey.

  115. valleycat1 says:

    I had to laugh at the “waste” section. Obviously this person has never been around my spouse’s family and chicken dinners. They eat the gristle & munch through the bones to get the marrow, and end up just with a small pile of slivers on the plate. The 2 of us can get about 6 meals off a chicken because one of us actually likes the back & wings. I don’t usually have enough left over to make stock from. And in our area I have yet to find smaller chickens than 5 lbs.

    These days the chicken parts cost per pound what a whole chicken costs, unless you catch a sale.

    We stick to organic whole chickens, which may be a little more per pound but taste much better. We don’t get the whole house stink we seem to get when we cook conventionally raised chicken.

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