5 Meals You Can Create with One Chicken

by Gina Blitstein · 5 comments

Frugality comes in many forms and can be found in many places. I recently experienced frugality in my own kitchen: me, a chicken and some creativity. Here’s how I got five meals out of one 5.5-pound chicken.

When I look at a chicken, I see more than a meal — I see opportunities. A chicken represents a chance for me to put on my “creative cook” hat and cook up a storm. Whole chickens (roasters) go on sale pretty often for around $1.50 (or less) per pound. Right there you have a frugal deal — but wait — it gets better! For an average investment of $8.00 (roasters are usually 5 to 6 pounds) you have all that meat to work with! While I personally like to get a raw bird and cook it from scratch, many grocery stores and warehouse clubs offer pre-cooked whole chickens which are a bit smaller for $5-$6. Regardless of whether you cook it yourself or let the store do the initial roasting, there is a lot that can be done with that chicken! Once you have roast chicken, you have the protein component for several meals all cooked and ready to turn into new and different culinary creations. Here’s my top five meals starring one $8.00 chicken:

Meal #1 – Roast chicken, stuffing and oven roasted vegetables

I take advantage of the fact that the oven is already on to bake the stuffing and vegetables. My husband and I enjoy the white meat and wings this first meal, so we split one breast and each take a wing.

While I have the cutting board and knife out, I take the opportunity to dissect the uneaten part of the bird for easier future meals. I take the meat off the second breast, thighs and drumsticks and cube it up for use in upcoming recipes. The yield is several cups of chicken meat. Everything else: bones, cartilage, andskin goes into a storage bag for soup-making (coming up in another meal).

Meal #2 – Chicken pot pies

I always make extra gravy so I’ll be able to add it with some of the chicken, diced potatoes, peas and carrots to individual pie crusts.

Meal #3 – Chicken soup

I boil down all the bones with onions, garlic, carrots, celery and spices for a couple hours until all the meat that was left on the bones falls off and the bones have released their collagen (the gelatinous protein) and voila! homemade chicken stock. I strain it, pick out the chunks of chicken, add more ingredients like noodles or rice and new vegetables and we’ve got a pot of chicken whatever soup.

Meal #4 – Chicken Tetrazinni

This is a simple dish to prepare by stirring cubed chunks of chicken into cooked spaghetti noodles with a Parmesan cheese sauce.

Meal #5 – Chicken quesadillas

Mix shredded chicken with a bit of salsa, spread over tortillas and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Fold over and heat on a griddle until the cheese melts.

There you have it: one chicken, five meals! It’s frugal in terms of money — $8 for the meat for five meals! It’s also frugal in terms of time. I cooked one “big” meal which gave me the ability to make four additional meals more easily than if I’d had to cook more chicken each time. By varying the types of dishes, it seems less like “leftovers” and more like a different meal each time. These are just some of my ideas for making the most of an abundance of chicken.

What can you do with one chicken?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Valerie O'Doherty February 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Hi, I came across couponshoebox on a Japanese site. I’m Australian &, reading yr recipe on 5 meals u can create with one chicken, I guess u r American? Very cosmopolitan. In any event I enjoyed reading the 5 meals & have no doubt I’ll use the recipes. Thank you.

betty myllykangas March 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

thanks keep up the good works.

Mikey Mike July 18, 2011 at 8:19 am

6. Chicken Cacciatore
7. Chicken Nachos
8. Chicken Tacos
9. Chicken and Dumplings
10. Chicken and Rice

Priswell August 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

One of my favorite things to do with cooked chicken is to simmer it in enough salsa to not quite cover, plus a little water. Let it cook down for about 30 minutes, then make chicken salsa burritos. Always a huge hit!

Pamela Woodard January 27, 2013 at 6:57 am

Buy one whole chicken-especially when they are on sale. I bought one recently for $3.63 when they were on sale for 69 cents per pound and this is what I did with it.
First, I go to the butcher when the store is not busy and he wlll always cut it up for me. I always ask him to split the breast into two pieces. When I come home I separate the pieces as follows:
1/2 breast-for baking
1/2 breast for chicken salad-saving a bit for my soup
2 wings and two legs for frying
1 back for vegetable soup
2 thighs-I de-bone and flatten these with a meat tenderizer. Now the thighs are ready for various recipes.

My Vegetable-Chicken soup recipe:
Take the Neck, Back, Liver, Heart, Gizzard and wash thoroughly. Season the pieces with garlic, salt, pepper, and your favorite season salt. Put in a medium pot.
Add celery and the leaves, parsley or parsley flakes, an onion, green, yellow and red peppers and a clove of garlic.
Fill the medium size pot 3/4 full completely covering all ingredients (Make sure to not put too much water in). Simmer for two hours. At the end of two hours, the water should still be slightly covering your chicken back and celery.
After the two hours, put a collander or strainer on top of a large pot and pour your broth into the strainer. Remove any meat from the remains in the strainer and put into the broth below, as well as the chicken you have set aside from the chicken breast. Salvage some of the limp celery and onions and put them into the broth as well.
Open two small cans of stewed italian tomatoes and pour into your broth. Add a package of Rinsed Frozen “soup” vegetables. If you don’t have “soup” vegetables, just put a package of frozen mixed vegetables in. Put everything back on the stove and simmer. If you have any leftover veggies in your fridge, you can add those as well (peas, carrots, etc.) Simmer on a very low temperature for 1/2 hour. In a separate pot boil 1/4 c. of thin egg noodles. Rinse in warm water and set aside. After the soup has simmered for 1/2 hour, fold into the simmering broth and stir. Test the soup for flavor. You will probably have to add salt. And that’s it.

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