Stretching Food Dollars
by Mary Moss
Fight Higher Grocery Bills
My Story: The "3-Chicken" System
I can remember a time not so long ago when we literally lived on chicken! It was so inexpensive, up until a couple of years ago. Now, it's crazy expensive. I really had gotten hooked on the frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts in the mega-packs. We often bought them at Costco and even at Kroger on a good sale.
Now chicken is just so expensive! But there are ways to have your chicken and save money in the process! The first thing to keep in mind when buying any product, including chicken, is that the more someone else had to do to it, the more expensive it's going to be. In other words, the least expensive way to buy chicken is to buy it whole, unfrozen. The next least expensive is probably whole chicken, cut up. If you buy chicken in the packs by legs, thighs, wings, etc., that is fairly affordable as well, but just remember the rule "less costs less"!
Saving on Chicken
Buy whole chickens when they go on sale. Kroger has a sale sometimes for 99 cents per pound and sometimes even less. Buy several. Take them home, take out the "stuff" on the inside, rinse them off and drop them in a big pot and boil them. If you can get two into a big Dutch oven, even better; it won't take as long. You can do this over a couple of nights if you have a lot of chickens. You may decide to bake one or two and have a nice dinner and then save the leftovers. I've even "baked" whole chickens in my slow cooker!
Cool the chicken. Pull all the meat off. Divide it up as desired. I usually try to separate the nice slices of breast meat and the rest of the pulled-off meat. The slices are great with gravy over mashed potatoes, noodles, rice or even as open-faced sandwiches with gravy.
Store the meat in the freezer in freezer bags, labeled and dated. If you divide it up by intended use/needed quantities, it will be handier for you to pull it out later. Now you have chicken handy for chicken salad, chicken and rice, or to toss in for a minute to heat with stir-fry vegetables.
We have an electric range. I got spoiled by a gas range when we lived in our first house and I've never liked using an electric range since. However, if you have an electric range, the back burner is usually "open" under the burner to vent the heat from the oven. When the oven is on, use the heat from the oven to boil water faster or heat up food in a saucepan. For instance, I'm baking two quiches in the oven right now and I'm also boiling some eggs. The pan with the eggs is over the burner that offers the radiant oven heat. I put the eggs in warm tap water and placed the pan on that back burner. The water started to boil very quickly and I saved electricity by "doubling up" on my heating sources for the water, namely the burner and the radiant heat.
Saving money on food is often a matter of using what you have to the best possible advantage.
Mary Moss is the Founder and Owner of Divinely Designed, a ministry fueled by inspiration, imagination and faith. Mary lives in Richmond, VA. She and her husband of 30 years have two college-age children. She is a voracious reader, a published writer and poet and a member of Richmond Christians Who Write.
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