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Recently, I wrote an article on food storage. I mentioned in that article that we use our freezer as part of our food storage plan. We have a large chest freezer and the side-by-side freezer that is part of the refrigerator/freezer combination. This past year to maximize our freezer space we decided to not just to freeze our home raised chickens whole. By cutting up some of them we could really increase our storage space.
Not only did we realize much more freeze space but we also now have additional options compared to just roasted chicken. I love going to the freezer and pulling out a package of chicken breasts or of hind quarters. This really increased my meal planning options!
Even if you do not raise your own chickens, buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself is usually a much more cost effective option than buying the pieces. Looking for pastured or free range chickens in your area? Check Local Harvest. If you are in Wyoming, be sure to check my local resources page.
Not sure how to cut up a chicken? You Tube has some great videos, like this one.
Did you notice at the beginning of the video that the chef removed the fatty pieces? And later when some of the fat came off of the breast? We save the removed fat to render down for schmaltz.
We also keep the carcass and the wing tips to use for broth. This time we left the hindquarters complete but next time we’ll break those down to package the thighs and the drum sticks separately.
For our family of 5 we make the following package sizes; 6 breasts, 6 hindquarters, 18 wings. So from 18 chickens we end up with 3 meals for breasts, 3 meals of quarters (this was too much for one meal, which is why we will do separate the quarters next time), 2 meals of wings plus 18 carcasses to make bone broth (the basis for many, many meals). Everything but the carcasses fit on the one shelf in our side-by-side freezer. The carcasses went in the bottom bin of the freezer and the few that didn’t fit there were put in the chest freezer.
The first time that I cut up a chicken, I struggled a bit and it took several minutes. After a little practice it got easier. But in all honesty, my husband is still much better at it than I am.
Next chicken season, we plan to double this amount. It is not yet March and my shelf is just about empty. All that is left is 4 small packages with 2 of those being wings. At least I have carcasses left so we can still make broth!
Have you cut up a chicken?
Be sure to pop over to Homestead Host for my weekly guest post there. I’m sharing a week of dinners with links.