Most delis and department stores have them, those wonderful smelling roast chickens that you can barely resist as you walk by.
Feed a family of four for five days with less than $15 in roasted chicken.
The trick is, DON’T RESIST!
As a matter of fact, buy two for less than $15 in most places.
When planning to do this, it’s important to plan to shop for the chickens on the way home on ‘Day One’ and to make sure ‘Day Three’ falls on a day where you will have the time available to prep and supervise the process and cooking.
Keep in mind that these meals (and days) do not have to be in direct order – one right after the other. At any time, the ingredients can be left in or placed in the freezer for later use. Just be sure the ‘Day One’ prep work is done so the quantity required can be retrieved.
- Carve both chickens, being sure to take as much meat as possible off the bones.
- Set one in the fridge to cool.
- Place the carcasses back into the plastic container and toss into the freezer.
- Once cooled, cut up the chicken from the fridge into bite-sized chunks, divide into two packages, and place in the freezer.
- Serve the first carved chicken fresh and hot with a side salad and/or side dish.
- (You should now have two chicken carcasses and two containers of chicken pieces in your freezer.)
- Use the leftovers from the first carved chicken cut up cold, added to a large meal size salad, or mixed into chicken salad for sandwiches, soup and/or salad or other side dish.
- Remove the carcasses from the freezer to make chicken broth.
- Grab a soup pot, run a bit of hot water into the plastic container bottoms to loosen the carcasses. Place the carcasses in the soup pot. Add a bit of hot water into the bottoms of the containers at a time, swirling to dissolve any remaining chicken juice, etc. after each addition of water. Pour over the chicken bones in the pot. Repeat until nothing remains in the containers. Once the chicken bones are in the pot, top up the water so the bones are just covered.
- Simmer over medium heat until bubbling, then reduce to level 2-3 to lightly simmer for an hour or two. The longer it simmers, the more intense the flavor will be.
- Once done, turn off the burner and let sit a bit until cool enough to handle comfortably. Using a small collander with a handle that will fit, or a large collander ladle/spoon, remove all particles, bones etc. and set aside in a separate bowl – leaving just the broth.
- If you prefer to remove the fat before using the broth, place in the fridge until the fat is congealed on the surface and skim off.
- Divide the chicken broth in two. Place one in the fridge to cool.
- In the meantime, as soon as the bones are cool enough to handle, remove as much chicken meat as possible (not skin or bone) and place the meat with the broth from the second container in a soup pot.
- Simmer on low to medium heat, adding freshly chopped or high quality frozen vegetables, and spices to taste. My standard procedure for making homemade chicken soup was covered in a previous post.
- Freeze any leftover soup for lunches or fast individual meals.
- Remove a package of chicken pieces from the freezer to defrost.
- Follow the procedure outlined in this previous post to make our fast and easy chicken pot pie.
- Serve with any side dish.
- As above, freeze any leftovers.
- Remove the remaining broth and chicken pieces to defrost overnight.
- Set up your slow cooker and pour in the broth.
- Thicken the broth by whisking in flour, corn starch or gravy thickener such as Bisto in the amount required for the quantity of broth.
- Add the chicken pieces.
- Chop into large bite-sized pieces: the potatoes, onions, and fresh vegetables (or add good quality frozen vegetables) and add seasonings to taste.
- Mix to coat and blend.
- Cook in the slow cooker on low for the required length of time (see your cooker’s manual).
- If you don’t have a slow cooker, this can also be done in a covered dutch oven in your stove’s oven.
- Again, freeze leftovers (if any) in individual containers.