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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Getting the biggest bang for your buck

Is a that's what she said too obvious here?  I don't want to take a cheap shot...

Recently on Facebook, I asked readers what they might like to read more about on ye olde blog.  Two people mentioned "getting the most bang for your buck".  That can be a pretty broad topic, but I'll focus on just one aspect today - how to wring every single penny you can from "expensive" food.

My example today involves an organic pastured whole chicken.  The benefits of buying pastured chicken is that your meal has spent its life living outside, eating bugs, scratching, and generally being a chicken.  It wasn't cramped in a tiny cage with a ton of other chickens.  It wasn't fed cow feedlot "waste".  Picture the two scenarios and then try to imagine which one you'd prefer to put in your body...

I buy my whole chickens from our local butcher for $2.49 a pound which seems quite spendy (and it is), but shelling out $10 for a chicken can still be a frugal choice.  And I'll explain to you why I'm willing to shell that out when other grocery stores are advertising whole chickens for $.89 a pound.

1) Starting with a whole chicken, I'll either roast it in the oven, or in the crockpot.  That chicken will make for the star of our evening meal.  I typically treat meat as an accompaniment to our dinner, and not the focus of our dinner.  So the chicken might be served as "just chicken", or as part of tacos, chicken parmesan, etc.

Total spent for meat for this meal: about $10 depending on the weight of the bird.

2) After dinner, I'll pick all the leftover meat off of the carcass (yummers), and will turn it in to chicken salad.  That will make sandwiches for Troy and I for lunch the next day.

Total spent for meat for this meal:  $0.  It's all "leftovers" at this point.

3) The picked over carcass is combined with veggie scraps from the freezer to become crockpot stock.   I'll get about 2-3 quarts of organic free-range chicken broth from that batch.  That could run you at least $5 at the grocery store.  The stock will get canned, and then be used at a later time for soups, sautees, rice, veggies, etc.

Total spent for this: $0!!  The best part is that it was made with items that would likely be thrown out anyway.

My $10 chicken has now produced three meals for my family to the tune of $3.33 per meal, or $1.11 per serving.  Yes, other ingredients were included in the dishes, but quality meat is usually the most expensive aspect of preparing a meal.

I believe that a $10 chicken making three meals definitely falls in to the "getting the most bang for your buck" category!  And a plus is that I'm eating something that had a great life (and one bad day), and I'm keeping my moola local.

How about you reader?  Any tips you'd like to share?

13 comments:

  1. We do the same thing. I buy my chickens locally from a farmer for about the same price. I buy 8 at a time for roughly $103. This will easily last 2 or 3 months.

    We cook the first one and eat it as is. There are always plenty of leftovers (we have 5 people eating this one bird) and our next use of it is the leftover meat. I will make a casserole, tacos, pizza, something like that. At the same time, I make broth with all those beautiful bones and the smallest pickings.

    For some reason, I am less prone to just "throw out" stuff when I am buying quality. I never used to make broth with store bought chicken, I would just throw the bones out. Now I can't seriously even imagine wasting all that golden goodness!

    Funny how your perspective changes when you start really caring about the food you eat! :)

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    1. "Funny how your perspective changes when you start really caring about the food you eat!"

      This is so true! Our economic downturn in 2010 had our grocery budget slashed, but I found we were eating better. The quality food was actually cheaper in the long run, and I found myself so super stingy with each and every morsel!

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  2. Great job! I cheat a bit by buying the Costco roasted chicken for 4.99.

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    1. My parents get those at least once a month, and then save the bones and stuff for me. I have 3 of them in the freezer right now for a big ol' batch of stock! ;-D

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  3. Everything you said sounds great but I struggle with the "carcass". If I could just find someone else to do it. I'm curious - I know you can a a lot. Do you use a pressure cooker or just a hot water bath? I can, also but I only do hot water bath since I don't have a pressure cooker so that limits me to tomatoes. I was always told by mom you needed a pressure cooker for anything else. Love, love, love your blog!

    Jaye

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    1. Let's do some "Mad Men" on this word to make it more appealing to you...how about "organic chicken goodness vessel"? Did that work? ;-D

      Is it the raw part that grosses you out, or just all the bones afterwards?

      I can my stock in a pressure canner. I saved some birthday money and bought it last fall. Before that, I never canned meat because I only had a water bath canner. Do you also can fruit in your WBC? It is perfectly safe to do that!

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  4. When thinking about cost it's also important to realize when just living where you live means saving money! A whole organic "pasture" chicken where I live averages over $20.00!!

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    1. For sure! Now, is that the price at the healthy store, or direct from the farmer?

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    2. That's straight from the farm, at the co-op type store it's closer to $30.
      And the crazy thing is this area is not a "high income" area at all! The cost of "good" food is just crazy high here cause of the demand.
      I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, around Eugene, just south of Portland and Salem.
      I would have guessed that "good" food would cost much more in the Seattle area.
      Whole raw milk cost $9-$14 a gallon from the farm here!!!

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    3. Oh how frustrating because you're in such a wonderful part of the country for producing local food! Have you checked out the prices thru Azure Standard? I'll admit I haven't looked, but they might be an option.

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  5. I do the same things with my whole chickens - how can you go wrong! And the stock is SO good for you!

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    1. Absolutely! I love seeing my shelves in the garage full of the jars.

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  6. Hi, thanks for this post! In the last 4 years I've only eaten meat once, and it was from a local farm here (NC) that I know was raised organically. We joined a CSA this year, and they have whole chickens available. I am back and forth with the idea of ordering and preparing at home. If I do, I am totally referencing this article. You posted exactly how I'd want to do it. Thank you!

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Comments make me more excited than Jessie Spano on caffeine pills!

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