Sunday, March 02, 2008

Whole Chicken vs. Boneless, Skinless Breasts - Is It Really More Frugal?

I have heard and believed for quite a while that it is more economical to buy a whole chicken, cook it, and debone it to use in casseroles or other things. This week, after cooking two whole chickens, deboning them and bagging up the meat, I have begun to think differently. Right now, a whole chicken costs between $5.00 and $6.00. I can purchase 3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $6.00 at WalMart.When all was said and done, I ended up with 2 lbs. of chicken meat and 2 quarts of chicken broth for $10.00. I could have had 3 lbs. of chicken meat and some broth (if I cooked them that way) for $6.00. Hmmmm.... seems to me that with all the time and energy involved in deboning chicken, I could have saved money by buying the chicken breasts.What is your experience? Have you found whole chickens a savings or just more work?

Stop over at Tammy's Recipes to find lots more tips!


Amphritrite said...

Yes, the whole chickens are more frugal if you know when to buy.

I never, ever pay more than $.69/lb for a whole chicken. Ever. And when that sale comes up, I buy two or three (I'm just one person in my household, I know you have a whole pack!) and freeze them.

Knowing you, you have a chest freezer to house meat for that bunch of yours!

I roast the whole chicken (1hr@350), split up the drumsticks from the thighs from the body, the wings from the body. Then remove the breasts.

Everything else goes into a soup pot for stock. I usually cook it with Basmati rice (better for you than bleached instant) and a bunch of veggies to make a great soup.

The breasts generally get frozen again for the week's end, and when defrosted, made into a rice or noodle dish (cassaroles!) or shredded for chicken salad.

The thighs are a meal for me by themselves, and then two drumsticks is another, and two wings is a nice compliment to a salad.

All in all, for me, spending $3 on a chicken and an hour tearing it to smithereens is better than spending $50-$70 on lunch everyday at work :)

dolphin lady said...

Thanks for that info! I will be on the lookout for chickens on sale (haven't seen it recently unfortunately). And I will be getting a freezer TOMORROW!! I am so excited! So then I can stock up when they are cheap.

Thanks again for the tip.

Homesteading said...

Hello, I wanted to let you know the Homesteading Carnival has been postponed until next week. Thank you for submitting something. We will definitely include in the next carnival!

Jocelyn, THC Staff

Anonymous said...

I agree with amphritrite- if you can stock up on meat when it's on sale, it can add up to big savings.

I also consider effort in the equation, and not just price, when I go grocery shopping. Some things would be cheaper, but more work, and if I don't like the 'total price' including labor, forget it- I'll go with convenience.

Tammy L said...

In my experience, the 3-pound bags of chicken breasts often have a "flavor enhancing" broth added, so when they're cooked, it's not actually 3 pounds of meat...

The boneless skinless breasts are good for certain recipes, or for convenience at times, but I think the $.69 whole chickens from Aldi are cheaper in the end... and since my husband loves roasted chicken, it works out great for me to make those and then use the leftover meat! :D

P.S. I came here from the link you left in my comments section -- your post didn't mention "kitchen tip Tuesdays" though -- I'd appreciate a return link if you don't mind! :) I added your post to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays on my blog. :) Thanks for sharing/participating!! :)

childofgod8 said...

I rece asking myself this same question.
I have a family of 10, so we need at least two chickens for a meal and there is usally not much leftover meat. I made an extra chicken the last time and deboned, made chicken broth. I did get my chickens on sale.69-.79 pound. After bagging the chicken up and weighting it, I was amazed at the small amount of meat I really had. When chicken breasts are on sale, I think this would be much easier and just as ecomomical if not more. I was very surprised because, I have always thought differently. I perfer the white meat, so I am going to try the chicken breast for awhile. Just my 2cents worth.

ruth said...

It may be true that boneless, skinless nets more chicken for less money (when it's on sale). But it doesn't taste as good (especially when it's on sale, for some reason).

There is flavor that comes from cooking the chicken with the skin and, almost more significantly, the bones. I cannot get really good broth without bones.

Plain boneless, skinless chicken often comes out dry and stringy and tastes like pine needles. Whole chickens never do that to me.

The only way I have ever found to cook chicken breast that I like is Amy's Crock Pot Chicken from Amy's Humble Musings. She cooks it in a crockpot, shreds it and seasons it with lots of garlic and Adobo seasoning, then adds olive oil until it is moist.

But..if you can stand the taste of boneless skinless breasts, by all means save the money and buy them.

Donna said...

I would agree with you, unless as the others have said, you buy the whole chicken on sale, **however**, another way to stretch even further is to make more broth from the carcass after removing meat.

You double your broth!

I also use whole chickens to make dumplings and it seems there is no replacement for the great flavor of the fresh broth and the light and dark meat together.

You have called my attention to making sure that I get the sale price!


Anonymous said...

For those of you who dislike the taste of boneless, skinless chicken try this. I defrost a 4 lb bag of them and drain (they are coated in broth or something). Then pour oil on a pie plate and dip them in it on each side. Sprinkle with your choice of Lawry's or garlic salt and black pepper(that was for you Lawry haters out there). Grill the whole batch over med-high around 10 min. per side, check with thermometer. Remove to a clean dish and cover with foil and let rest around 15 min. then slice into strips. We eat some of it for dinner and freeze the rest to use like those frozen cooked chicken strips you can buy. We usually use them in Chicken Caesar salad.

sohnnenstrahl said...

The folks who commented on the flavor value you get out of the skin and bones are right. Also consider this reason that we buy whole chickens: The nutrition that comes from the bones is what makes nutritious stock. Check out the book Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. It is a product of the Weston Price Foundation. There is so much ancient food wisdom in that book. Uh, the owner of this blog should know who I am from my screen name, and if interested should call me or email me so I can get her a copy!

Nothing Too Fancy... said...

I'm a new wife learning how to cook for a family and a tight budget. I've used chicken breast up until now, at the local Save A Lot we get it at a pretty good price. However, recently I've really gotten into using my crock pot and whole chicken makes such a nice presentation. If I can get either, for close to the same price, I will pick whole chicken:-)

Vendetta Jones said...

A whole chicken will yield 1/3 as much meat as boneless skinless chicken, plus broth.

If whole chickens are less than 1/3 the price of boneless skinless the whole chicken is a better buy. If not, get the boneless skinless.

Right now at my local store, boneless skinless breasts are $4.40/lb. Whole fresh chickens are $1.67/lb. At these prices, the boneless skinless breasts are a better deal ($1.67 * 3 = $5.01) said...

I just stumbled upon your blog as I am working on pricing for my first batch of wholesome (organic)fryers that I am raising for myself and some friends - 37 birds. After reading about the methods of processing that the large chicken companies use for getting you those chickens for .69/lb I had second thoughts about feeding them to my family. I would encourage everyone to look for more than a price point if you are interested in good clean nutritional value for you and your family. I found Polyface Inc. in Virginia through reading but they are on the web and have books and videos online that can help educate people about where there food really comes from and how to make an informed choice about what you buy to eat. God bless.
Susan in Seattle

Emily said...

Ladies -- the most important thing you need to know about chicken is that small birds have a much lower yield of meat per pound than large birds. And it's always the small birds that go on sale, but even on sale they are not a good buy. Your observation of only 1 lb of meat on a 3 lb fryer is exactly right.

OTOH, if you look for roasters -- 4 lbs and up -- you will get 1 lb of meat from each 2 lbs of bird. Really big birds, like turkeys, are even better.

These older birds eat a lot more feed and occupy the farmer's shed longer, so of course he wants to sell his birds as scrawny babies.

The older birds have also had more time to develop flavor, so they make better soup. And remember, it's bones and fat that flavor the soup. Using boneless skinless breasts to make soup must be a very unrewarding exercise!

Anonymous said...

When it comes to food it's important to consider other types of costs besides money (e.g. environmental costs, health costs, costs to workers). Eating only chicken breast is not environmentally sustainable. Chickens grown for their breasts are often not raised naturally hence they are not the best for your health.