|Chicken I butchered and froze for later usage. |
Yes, I know my freezer needs cleaning!
Yesterday, though, I was in for a nice surprise. When I went to the grocery store, chickens were half the price I'd seen them until then- only $1.28 per pound. If I had more room in my freezer, I would have bought more, but I sufficed with buying 6 whole chickens.
Yesterday, I butchered and froze 2 of them, and today I did the other 4. (I really wanted to get a video of this, to teach people how to butcher chickens, because this usually is cheaper than buying chicken parts, but I got this done while Mike was busy, so he couldn't record me, and I don't trust Lee to take a video of me and for it to come out properly... so I'll have to make the video next time I do this.)
As I was chopping it up, I divided it into meal sized portions. For our family, I know how much of each type of chicken we generally eat in one meal. One thing I don't like about buying prepackaged chicken is that sometimes it is too much or too little for our family for a meal. If it's too much, and I defrosted it already, I usually end up just cooking the lot, and we eat more chicken than we would have otherwise, just so it doesn't get wasted... and since chicken is so expensive, we want to get the most out of it, and not eat it "just to finish it", but to eat it because we want to. And if a package is too small... well, then we end up defrosting and cooking two packages, which leaves us with even more extra cooked chicken, which is a waste, because eating something that is a special item/treat, just to finish it, isn't worth it. Making the perfect amount is the perfect frugal thing to do, in my opinion.
In our family, keep in mind that meat isn't the main dish- we use it as a side dish, and let veggies and carbs and even legumes be the fillers. Filling up on chicken can be awfully expensive- we use it for nutritional and emotional/mental purposes (you know, when you feel like you just need to eat meat, don't want to feel deprived), but for that, even smaller amounts of chicken is satisfactory.
When we eat bone-in chicken, the amount we serve for a meal is 2 thighs (for myself and Mike), two drumsticks (for Ike and Lee) and 1 chicken wing (for Anneliese). If the wings are big enough, a wing each will suffice for Ike and Lee, and if the drumsticks are big enough, one each would suffice for myself and Mike. (Sometimes I have to push to get Lee, Ike, and Anneliese to finish the amount of chicken we gave them, in case you're worried it isn't enough.) So I divided up the bone-in chicken parts into bags with 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 1 wing, or 2 thighs, and 2 large and 1 small wing, or 2 large drumsticks, and 2 large wings, and 1 small wing, and packaged them each separately for meals for my family. I got 6 such packages from my 4 chickens.
Chicken breast I find that when they are from normal sized birds, I can easily get 5 cutlets from each side of the breast (2 larger, adult sized cutlets, and 3 smaller ones). When I use chicken breast for stir fry, again, I chop up one side of a chicken breast for that meal. For smaller chickens, I will use two halves of a breast per meal. From my 4 chickens, I got 7 meal sized portions of chicken breast.
After cutting off the main parts, I was left with 4 chicken frames (the breastbones, necks, etc...) and a bunch of skin and fat. I put two frames in each package, and each of them will make a nice pot of chicken soup for my family. Once the bones are cooked, I remove the bones and add them back to the soup, or possibly to another dish, or even both, depending on how much meat is left on the bones. (At least) two more meals of chicken from the 4 chickens.
Altogether, this leaves me with 15 chicken meals for my family of 5 out of 4 chickens.
With the skin and fat, I made my own rendered chicken fat to use for cooking, adding healthy fats and chemical flavor boosting to lots of dishes.
|This is the rendered fat from all 6 chickens I bought, not just the 4 I did today. The two different colors is because the stuff on the bottom is cold and hardened from the fridge, and the stuff on top is still warm and liquid.|
With the prices I paid for the chicken, the 4 birds ended up costing me 22 dollars.
Dividing that up into the 15 chicken meals I'll be getting from that, that ends up being on average $1.50 per chicken per meal for my family.
$1.50 isn't a bad price to pay for chicken for a meal in my area. In fact, it's very very good. (I know chicken in other areas can be much cheaper, but this is what is available here...)
However, $1.50 for chicken is still a lot, in my opinion, especially once you add in the rest of the ingredients for the meal, which is why we still will be eating mainly legumes as our protein source, with chicken only a few meals a week.
Cost comparison wise, though... Eggs locally are 32 cents a piece. One of my lazy suppers is to make omelets for my family (and find some leftovers for myself to eat, since eggs make me feel icky). For my family, we generally use 5-6 eggs for the meal, which adds up to $1.60-$1.90 on protein for those meals. And that's just for 4 people, not 5! Chicken meals, therefore, are cheaper than egg meals! What a discovery!!!
To stretch the chicken even further, I plan on collecting the bones from the chicken (after the thighs, drumsticks, and wings are eaten, yes, from people's plates) and the drippings left on the bottom of the pan after the chicken is cooked, and use it to make further pots of chicken broth.
Anyhow, it is obvious that every family eats different amounts of chicken at their meals, and everyone's prices for chickens are different... but I just posted this post to give you some food for thought.
(And just a reminder- if you want to know how much you're paying per pound of actual meat, for different types of meat, once you subtract the bones- here's a chart to help you figure that out.)
Do you usually buy whole chickens? Chicken parts? How much chicken does your family eat per meal? How often do you eat chicken? What do you do to keep your chicken meals frugal, or do you not particularly try to do so? Do you butcher your own chicken? How do the prices of whole chickens in your area compare to the prices of chicken parts?
Linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop.