Chicken on a Budget: Multiple meal parts for $2.78!

In these times, we’re all trying to save money.  One thing I always do is look for what’s on sale, and how I can do multiple meals with it.  This technique also helps you keep a stocked freezer, that will help you out when you need a meal in a pinch!

At the grocery store this week (a big shout out to my favorite grocery store, Publix on Ponce), chicken leg quarters were on sale for $.59 / pound.  I don’t normally buy dark meat, but that was a pretty good deal I figured I could do something with.*

So I bought a package of 5 quarters. (4.71 lbs!)

From this I got:

Drumsticks

When I got it home, I first cut off the drumsticks.  The four year old is a fan of drumsticks, and I figured I could throw them in jambalaya or paella (2 favorite go to meals), or something else.  I ended up giving them a chinese barbeque marinade, and sticking them in the fridge for consumption this week.

Cooked Chicken for Future Use

Next, I took the rest (the thighs), and put it in a pot with onions and celery, and covered with water.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked enough to be easily removed from the bone.  Then extract the chicken (but don’t dump the pot!).   I removed the chicken to a colander and let cool to the touch, then took the meat off the bones, and threw everything that was not meat (bones), back in the pot.

The meat was over 2 cups, and that’s the perfect amount to use in a pot pie, or chicken enchiladas, or any dish that calls for pre-cooked chicken.  I put it in a freezer bag (tip: use a straw to suck out as much air as possible) and it will be great for future meals!  Of course, you don’t have to freeze it… it will keep for several days in the fridge, and makes a great filling for burritos or quesadillas, or anything you’d use cooked chicken for.

Homemade Chicken Broth

Let that simmer for several more hours (3-4) for your homemade chicken stock!  Strain the stock to remove chicken parts, and place stock in the fridge over night.  In the morning, remove  the fat from the top either by just scraping off the solidified fat (or if it’s not solid, use a gravy separator).  Then freeze for future use.  I usually use a silicon muffin tin for this, but this time I used old 8 oz yogurt containers to portion into 1 cup servings.  When the stock is frozen solid, remove from your containers and place the portions into a dated and labeled freezer bag.

The Timeline

“But Dot”, you say, “you work from home!  I don’t have time to do all this!”.  Ah, it’s easy… most of this I did while I was prepping that evening’s dinner.  After dinner I removed the chicken from the bones, and set the pot back on for the stock to continue cooking.  Then right before bed I moved the stock to the fridge.  (Be sure to set a timer so you don’t forget and leave it on the stove all night!)  And now I have another night’s dinner prepped and ready to go, plus the cooked chicken in the freezer will make a future dinner than much quicker!

*Another option:  I like to do this technique with a whole chicken when they are on sale.  I’ll remove the breasts and either use or freeze them.  Then cook the rest of meat/carcass in this manner.

As for the pre-cooked chicken, it can be used in a variety of recipes.   What are your go to meals when you all ready have chicken cooked and ready?

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