Saturday, 12 January 2013

The FP - Chicken Any One?

So here is the first official post for the frugality project.  It starts with the price of chicken.  (Inspiring or what?)  Before I moved a couple months back I lived in The Big City, not quite my taste but I will admit it did have its perks.  One of those was that Costco was available, thus big savings on meat.  Every three months I drive the extra distance and load up in bulk on all the meat that I ate regularly sausages, chicken, pork and ground beef.  All of these would be divided into meal size portions and frozen.

Since my move I've found myself shelling out for meat pretty much every week at a price that was a bit higher than what I was use to.  So I started really looking at my options instead of pulling the most convenient choice off of the shelf.  If you're grocery store is anything like mine you will have a number of choices when it comes to chicken.  Here are the options, and prices, at my store.

-Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - 13.82 $/Kg
-Bone in Skinless Chicken Breast - 11.88 $/Kg
-Split Chicken Breast (Has the bone in and skin on) - 9.16 $/Kg
-Whole Chicken - 7.25 $/Kg

The most convenient choice of course is boneless and skinless, no muss, no fuss.  Lately I've been buying the bone in option.  Turns out that deboning the bone in chicken breast takes all of 5 min and a moderately sharp knife.  As for the skin, it is even easier to remove (if you want to be health, otherwise you can leave it on depending on your recipe).  So there you go, 5 min of work just got you 34% off your chicken.  But Elizabeth, you protest what about the bones!  You're paying for their weight and you cant even eat them.  And what about all that wasted meat that you just can't get off?  You're paying for that too!  This is where the deal gets even sweeter.  The packages at my store generally have 4 breasts to a package.  One breast will make a supper and a lunch for me, so one package of boneless skinless will give me 8 meals of chicken.  A package of bone in with skin will give me 8 meals of chicken and 2 of chicken soup.  Less money, more food?  What's not to love?

You're probably thinking that chicken soup from scratch is a big pain in the neck, I though so too at first.  Here's what you do.

1. Collect you're chicken bones (skin is optional) 4 breast bones should give at least 2 servings of soup. Personally I prefer to freeze the bones in an empty ice cream container and save up bones for a couple of months.  Then make big batch of soup that can be divided up and frozen for later.

2. Put the bones in a pot with some water and allow to simmer . . . and simmer . . . and simmer.  A slow cooker is really handy at this step because you can just turn it on low and leave it for the day.

3. Strain off the broth at this point the meat should be falling off the bones.  Go through the bones and collect the meat, this goes back in the broth.

4. Turn your broth into soup by adding veggies, spices, rice, noodles.  What ever strikes your fancy really.  It's hard to ruin chicken soup.  If you want a recipe to follow google chicken soup.  You'll find a hundred variations.

I must admit that I've not yet carved a whole chicken while raw.  I'm going to try that the next time I buy chicken.  From carving a whole cooked chicken I'm pretty sure that I can get 4 meals from the breasts, 4 meals from the legs, wings and other scraps of meat, and the bones should give me 4 servings of soup.  A total of 12 meals.

So . . . I'm pretty sure I can almost double the number of meals that I get for half the price.  Not bad.

Any butchers out there who want to offer advice on carving up a raw chicken?

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