Spring is a magical time of year, isn't it?
We come out of our winter hibernation and open up the windows to air out the house. Maybe do some traditional "spring cleaning" and clear the junk out of a closet or something. And we're spending time out on a patio with a margarita or ice cold beer (or in my case, building more chicken tractors with an extra large tiger's blood snowcone - with cream).
This time of year, we've sold through most of our inventory as well.
We don't raise chickens or do much processing over the winter, because it's just too hard on the animals. So, this time of year, we're getting really creative with whatever "leftovers" aka, the less desirable items that are in our freezers.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to put my creativity to the test to show exactly how far you can stretch just 2 small whole chickens... and y'all, sometimes, I even surprise mySELF - I got 18 MEALS out of them!
I started by breaking them down - a skill that I acknowledge not many people possess anymore, so I'll do a video on that for you guys one of these days.
When I broke down my 2 chickens, here's what I wound up with: 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks, 4 wings, and 2 carcasses with necks intact.
One of the biggest counterpoints I get from folks as to why they choose to eat cheap food is the cost.
But eating pasture raised doesn't have to be expensive. By utilizing the whole bird we were able to eat almost the entire week on $22 worth of chicken. I don't know about you guys, but just Hubster and I can easily spend $20 on just ONE meal at a drive through - and we don't even have kids to feed!
Thinking about it that way, pasture raised chicken is not only a much healthier alternative (even with a butter and cheese and processed carb cheat day), it's also an insane BARGAIN.
Here are the meals I constructed:
Meal 1: Chicken noodle soup - Servings, 8
The chicken carcass is a very underappreciated cut of meat. There is usually enough left along the back, and neck that you end up with quite a bit for a casserole or soup.
Is that the most glamorous meal? Probably not... I mean, I doubt anyone would ever consider having the queen over for tea and serving her chicken noodle soup - but does it make a fantastic make ahead meal that keeps extremely well in the fridge or freezer for lunch for the next week or so? YUP.
So I had myself lunch for the day, and had lunches for both of us meal prepped for the week.
Making the soup was easy - it was a matter of what I had in the fridge. You can add whatever you want (or leave out what you don't). That's the beautiful thing about soup... it's very flexible like that. I included the wings as well as the carcasses, but could have easily included them on the grilling day later in the week, or in yet another meal.
I tossed all of it (except the noodles) into the pot with the wings and carcasses. Let it simmer for about an hour. Pulled all the cooked meat off my carcasses, and returned it to the broth. And then added the noodles and boiled until they were cooked.
Meal 2: Chicken and rice - Servings, 6
This chicken and rice is one of Hubster's favorite meals.
And since this is one of Hubster's favorites, I utilized our favorite cut - the 4 thighs. I also used 2 of the boneless skinless breasts, because I wanted to get a few extra servings out of this meal because... have I mentioned this is one of Hubster's favorite meals???
I'm including a recipe card, but I feel like there are a lot of things you could add or take out to make this a much "healthier" recipe, so don't be afraid to change it up a bit in your home. You could add a variety of vegetables to your rice mixture. You could easily leave out the canned soup, or substitute a homemade version.
In my house, this is one of those recipes that I have chosen to pick my battles on. Hubster is happy with it the way that it is, so I just eat my spinach on the side. It's not happy wife, happy life here - it's happy spouse, happy house.
Meal 3: Grilled chicken drumsticks - Servings, 2
For the remaining chicken, we decided to prepare it simply, and do a little meal prep for the following day as well. So 4 drumsticks, the 2 remaining breasts, and some asparagus went onto the grill.
For this dinner, we had 2 drumsticks each, asparagus, and roasted potatoes (well - I had asparagus, Hubster just ate meat and potatoes because that's how he rolls). If you have kids, you could easily boost the number of servings you get, by giving just one per child.
At this point I want to note that for this week's meals, I was using 2.5 pound chickens, because we eat the stuff around here that's not in very high demand first - if you were cooking with our regular 3.5-4 pound chickens, you could potentially get even more meals than we did.
Meal 4: Chicken alfredo - Servings, 2
The following evening, we cheated - don't judge me. I had planned to put our chicken on salads, but I was having a long day at work, and Hubster had spent most of the day outside, and he wanted something more substantial than that for dinner.
So, we took our final 2 chicken breasts, and then broke out the pasta... and cheese... and butter... and had ourselves some chicken alfredo. I'll share that recipe another day. It was given to me by a coworker friend of mine named Polly. It's easy... and divine... and perfect for a cheat day... and because of all that, it deserves its own post.
While I have sold out of all our chicken cuts for the winter, I still have several whole chickens left.
How many servings do you think you can get out of 2 of them?
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