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When you are on a tight budget, it’s important to get the most out of your food dollars. Stretchy Chicken is a wonderful way to turn one whole chicken into several meals and help you save money. Here are a few great options to make the most of a whole chicken.
I shared how we turn one whole chicken into at least five meals. When you are purchasing a free-range or pastured chicken that can cost $30+, you definitely want to get the most bang for your buck.
In a nutshell, you’ll use your favorite method for cooking a whole chicken. The first meal will be roasted (or braised, if using a wet cooking method) chicken plus fixings. Think Sunday dinner fixings: potatoes, veggies, etc.
The key is to carve the bird in the kitchen and only take certain pieces to the table: one breast, both drumsticks, and one thigh.
The rest of the bird is divided into three containers.
Container #1 will be the remaining breast.
Container #2 will have the big, nice pieces, chunks of breast left behind, and the other thigh (meat only) — anything that looks really good.
Container #3 will contain the smaller pieces that aren’t quite as pleasing to the eye.
The bones are put in a stockpot, crockpot, or pressure cooker to be turned into three batches of bone broth. Here’s how to make bone broth.
Be sure to visit the original post here for more information on dividing up the chicken.
Now that you have your containers and your broth, you may be wondering what’s next.
This is where the fun really begins! The possibilities for your future meals are limited only by your imagination, well mostly. 😉
I do want to mention that since you are stretching your chicken to several meals, the amount of meat in each dish may be less than what you are used to. Many recipes also call for bone broth. By adding bone broth, which is a protein sparer, you can eat less meat and still maintain excellent health.
Chicken Breast AKA Container #1
This reserved chicken breast is likely quite nice looking. If the breast is from a hybrid chicken, it’s likely a nice plump breast. If it’s from a dual-purpose chicken (there is more information about these differences in this post) the breast may not be as large and may look a little darker. Both will still be wonderful!
Tip: Most of the recipes in the section will work for container #2 or #3 also. They may not look quite as pretty in the end since the meat starts in smaller, less attractive chunks/pieces.
The beautiful chicken breast in container #1 makes a lovely protein addition to a salad. Not sure what salad sounds best? It’s hard to go wrong with crisp romaine lettuce, bright tomatoes, juicy chicken, and creamy homemade Caesar dressing like this one from Whole Some Yum. The Parmesan cheese crisps are a wonderful touch if your budget can swing it. Or you could make sourdough croutons for your salad. Caesar Salad via wholesomeyum.com.
I love both buffalo chicken and sweet potatoes, so this is a definite winner for me! My variation on this is to decrease the hot sauce (use your favorite pepper sauce or buffalo sauce) to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup bone broth. I also use a full cup of diced celery to help stretch that single reserved chicken breast. Skip the dressing and add a few crumbles of blue, Gorgonzola, or goat cheese. Via againstallgrain.com.
Purple Chicken Stir-Fry! Such a wonderful and adaptable dish! My daughter dubbed this Purple Chicken Stir Fry since the beet stems made everything a lovely purplish color. Get the recipe here.
Main dish potato salad from Natasha’s Kitchen! Your single leftover chicken breast is a little less than the recipe calls for, but with the addition of eggs, it will still be plenty filling. Make your own fermented mayonnaise to up the nutrition. Via natashaskitchen.com.
This is a wonderfully flexible main dish salad. This can feature any fresh vegetables you have on hand. It’s a great way to use up small amounts of leftovers. Cheese and chicken make this plenty hardy. No quinoa? I’ve made this salad with brown rice with excellent results. Via TraditionalCookingSchool.com.
This container has nice bi pieces, chunks of breast left behind, and the meat off of one thigh. While the pieces aren’t quite as lovely as the pieces from Container #1, they are still delicious.
Bone broth added to this dish makes it extra rich and nourishing. The contents of container #2 will be a perfect substitute for the two small chicken breasts called for in the recipe. Via happybellyfoodie.com.
How about a delicious chicken pizza? Start with homemade sourdough pizza crust. Instead of plain red sauce use your favorite barbecue sauce (we make our own using this recipe), add sauteed onions (peppers and mushrooms are also lovely if you have them), your favorite cheese, and top with leftover chicken pieces. Find the crust recipe here.
Perfectly timely with zucchini now in season! Zoodles, zucchini pasta, is a wonderful alternative to regular pasta. I have this spiralizer and it works great! The zoodles are lightly stir-fried with the chicken (the original recipe adds chorizo, which would be wonderful if you have it on hand, but perfect without also) and onion then topped with an egg. So good! Via comfortbites.co.uk.
While the pieces in container #3 aren’t always the prettiest, they are very tasty and make a wonderful chicken salad. My meat salad formula helps you use ingredients on hand to help you stretch your budget. No buying special ingredients! Get the formula here.
Chicken salad is delicious on homemade bread! This no-knead artisan bread from Traditional Cooking School only needs 15 minutes hands-on time and is oh-so-delicious! Request the recipe here.
This is a great method for using up chicken. The burritos are so satisfying and flexible to the ingredients you have on hand. Get method here. Make your own sourdough tortillas! Get the recipe from Traditional Cooking School.
A main dish salad with frugal lentil sprouts! This is so flexible. You can add any veggies that you have on hand. The recipe as written doesn’t add chicken but we love to use container #2 in this salad. It’s a great combination. Via TraditionalCookingSchool.com.
A simple white sauce really helps stretch the chicken in this dish! The amount in your #3 container will be perfect. You can sub half water for the milk and even decrease the cheese some if needed for budget or dietary reasons. Make your own tortillas for even more savings. Serve with a nice big salad. Via untrainedhousewife.com.
Pure comfort food! Plus this is the perfect vehicle for hiding the not-so-pretty pieces of chicken found in container #3. Get the recipe here.
A quick and easy side dish, Cabbage Fried Rice from Natasha’s Kitchen, becomes a main dish sensation with the addition of chicken. This is a great dish to use up those small, not quite so lovely, bits of chicken from container #3. Be sure to use your favorite traditional fat and add 1/2 cup broth when cooking the veggies to increase nutrition. Add the chicken (whatever amount you have available in container #3, up to 2 cups) when you add the rice. Delicious! Via natashaskitchen.com.
This is one of my favorite stretchy meals! Hash is the perfect dish to make when you have leftover bits of meat and a small selection of vegetables. Get the method here.
Hot pockets made at home! Chicken and veggies wrapped in a sourdough pocket. So good. These are also a great make-ahead lunch. Get the recipe here.
Using basic ingredients, you can enjoy a quick and easy chicken noodle soup in no time! This recipe uses up not only the chicken from container 3 but also a batch of your homemade broth. The recipe as written calls for 3 cups chicken but is still wonderful with less, so don’t worry if your container 3 falls short of this amount. You can add additional veggies if you’d like. You’ll even find a wonderful cornbread recipe at this link! Via TraditionalCookingSchool.com.
Not only is bone broth amazingly frugal since it’s made from something many discard, but it is also amazingly healthy. Broth very efficiently delivers nutrients to your body and improves gut health (learn more about improving gut health here). You want to enjoy bone broth regularly in your diet. Go here for some great tips for adding broth to your diet.
This is a wonderful creamy main dish meal. The onions sweeten during the cooking process. Delicious served over mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash, or rice. Get the recipe here.
Light and delicious. We often serve this as a first course to a meal or in a mug alongside. The bone broth in the soup helps stretch the protein in the mea,l so it’s especially good with a light-on-the-meat entree. Get the recipe here.
We love these rich, creamy soups full of nourishing bone broth. The beauty of a blended soup is that the sky is the limit for using up ingredients you have on hand. It’s a great method for cleaning out the fridge or freezer. A stick blender makes this soup so easy. Via TraditionalCookingSchool.com.
Poaching eggs, with or without the shell on, gives a wonderful hot breakfast or increases the nutrition of your broth by adding calcium and gives you hard-boiled eggs for any use. Via TraditionalCookingSchool.com.
What is your favorite recipe for stretching cooked chicken?
Learn how to get the most nutrition from the foods you eat! You’ll love the books from Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS.