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One Chicken, Many Meals

This post #4 of the Budgeting for Real Food series.  Don’t forget to subscribe by RSS feed or email so you don’t miss out on future posts. 

How many meals can a family of 6 get from one chicken?

In the past, I would have said that one chicken would feed a family of 6 for just one meal.  My family has definitely devoured an entire chicken in one seating on many occasions, even before there were 6 of us.  But finishing a whole chicken in a single meal, especially if you’re paying big bucks for pasture raised and fresh from the family farm chicken, is not wise for a family on a tight food budget.  If you’re spending more money to buy high quality food, learning ways to make the most of that pricey food is a good idea.  I have found that I am able to “stretch” my chicken by making it last for several meals. Amazingly, despite the fact that there are some big appetites to feed in my house, I can usually stretch one chicken out for three meals.


Here’s how I do it:


Meal 1:  Roast the chicken and make a delicious gravy with the pan drippings.  Serve 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, and 1 breast with mounds of roasted vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots, asparagus, winter squash, summer squash…whatever is available.   The rich gravy goes on the meat and the roasted veggies.  Serve with a tossed salad.


Meal 2:  Dice up the 2nd breast and use to make chicken and rice casserole, chicken and veggie stir fry, chicken spaghetti or any similar dish.


Meal 3:  Make a wonderfully nourishing and delicious bone broth with the carcass, and use the broth as a rich base for a soup.  Add leftover roasted vegetables to the chicken broth and puree until smooth for an absolutely divine, creamy, luxurious soup.  Add leftover chicken and rice to the broth for a super quick soup.  You can be so creative with soups.  It’s also a great way to use up produce that might be reaching it’s end in your refrigerator.  Serve the soup with salad and a good bread and call it a meal.


Cooking an Extra Chicken


I like to have leftover meat in my refrigerator for snacks and quick lunches.   I also like to keep my freezer stocked with plenty of homemade chicken stock, so often I will roast 2 chickens instead of one. As I’m continuing to try to reduce our food spending, I am making it a goal to only do this twice a month.  When I cook the extra chicken, I keep some in the refrigerator for make chicken salad or to add on top of a tossed salad, and then I chop and freeze the rest of it for use later.  It’s great to have cooked, diced meat in the freezer for when I want to make a big pot of chicken soup…our family favorite.



How about you?  What creative ways do you use to make sure you get the most from your food?  



This post is featured on Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Your Green Resource at A Delightful Home and Simple Lives Thursdays at GNOWFGLINS.



8 Responses to One Chicken, Many Meals

  1. My family loves it when we have a roasted chicken because they know the next night is usually chicken enchiladas.

    Thanks for sharing your roasted chicken meals.

  2. Mmm…chicken enchiladas. I miss those! We’re not doing corn, gluten or tomatoes (among lots of other things) right now, so I haven’t made these in a long time. Definitely a great idea to use up leftover chicken. Chicken tacos and chicken burritos too.

    • Carmen I have a recipe for a gluten and tomatoe free enchilada sauce if you want it.

      • I would love the recipe. Thanks! I looked for it on your blog, but couldn’t find it. I love your blog, by the way! It looks like you have some amazing recipes.

        • You couldn’t find because I haven’t posted it yet… My mom learned to make this from a place we used to eat at. I’ve changed it some to to more nourishing.

          Enchilada Sauce

          5 quarts chicken stock
          1 quart beef stock
          1 TBS dried oregano
          3 tsp cumin
          1/4 cup chili powder
          1/3 cup garlic powder
          salt to taste, if your stock doesn’t have salt in it.

          Boil for 30 minutes. Slowly wisk in enough arrowroot powder to thicken it to desired consistancy. (I’ve never measured)

          That all there is to it! I hope it works for you!

          Thanks for checking out my blog! :)

  3. That is a beautifully roasted bird! I love a roast chicken, but I usually boil mine for the stock. I usually end up with 8 cups of stock and 4 cups of chicken. I can stretch those 4 cups for 3 meals!

    Thanks for linking to Your Green Resource

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