The cost of a chicken

Last week at my local grocer I stood before the freezer door contemplating the cost of a whole chicken. It’s $1.69/lb at Harris Teeter but here it was approximately $4/lb. Wow! But I knew that if I got the chicken from HT I wouldn’t be able to eat it because I can’t stomach the thought of the conditions those chicken were raised in. Plus, I think ‘real’ farm raised chicken has more flavor and simply tastes better.

So I decided to buy that $4/lb chicken determined to make the most out of every ounce.

That brings me to share my love of quality chicken stock. Stock is so versatile. You can use it in homemade soups, rice, grits, sauces….just about anywhere. But, quality stock comes at a price. At the average grocery store it’s about $3.39 for 32 ozs. At the local grocer I frequent, there homemade chicken stock is $4.50 for 32 ozs. That may not be bad if I only used stock once in a while but I use way more than that. So below are my math calculations of how buying local can be done on a budget.

$13.62 – cost of local whole chicken compared to $6.50 of inferior whole chicken

What I got from it:

I was able to get 8 servings of meat from this chicken. We used in enchiladas and roasted chicken with veggies and mashed potatoes.

128 ounces of chicken stock. This equates to $18 of stock from the local grocer.

So I believe, I more than made up for the higher cost of the chicken!

My recipe for making chicken stock:

I personally like to roast my chicken first as I think it makes the meat more moist and its a lot easier to pull chicken off the bone than to ‘rummage’ through the stock for it. We have a beer can chicken pottery dish that allows you to fill the middle container with, you guessed it….beer, or any other juice/liquid you prefer. You roast this for approximately 75 minutes at 375 degrees. Once roasted, it should look like this…

Roasted Beer Can Chicken

You’ll next want to pull all the chicken off the bones and chop up, as needed, for other recipes.

Now place all the bones and skin from the chicken carcass into a stockpot.  NOTE: You WILL NOT put the chicken into the stock.

And yes, you have to get your hands dirty! But I promise after the first time you do this, you’ll be ashamed of how much chicken you’ve wasted in the past! Or at least I was! I remember buying rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and only pulling meat from the breasts and then chucking everything else. Not smart!

Pull all the meat off the chicken

Next, you’ll want to add some veggies to impart extra depth.  You can either add in chopped up onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, etc. Or you can use leftover veggies scraps from your week of cooking. I save the peels and ends of veggies and store in the freezer in a Ziploc bag. Then, all I have to do is take out of the freezer and place into the stock pot. 

Vegetable peels and such stashed in the freezer

All these veggies will provide really great flavor

Next, add in whole peppercorns (ground pepper works too), a dash of salt, two or three bay leaves, and sprigs of fresh herbs (here I included rosemary).

The salt in this recipe is completely optional

Fill the stock pot with water, leaving about three inches of space at the top. You can use a strainer to put the bones and veggies in but I’ve found this leaves less room for water, therefore, less stock in the end. On medium heat, bring to a slow simmer and reduce heat as necessary to keep this at a slow simmer. I’m constantly adjusting the temp so it will simmer and not boil. Maybe you’ll be better at this than me! Allow to simmer for approximately 1 to 3 hours – depending upon how much time you have. This is a good recipe for when you have nothing else going on and will be at home for a while.

Once complete, strain off the liquid from the solids and then allow the stock to cool down. Once cool, place in the refrigerator overnight.

Leave just about this much room at the top

Here’s a picture of my chicken stock the next morning. The fat will rise to the top and you’ll want to skim that off.

Voila....chicken stock the next morning

Mesh strainer used to remove fat solids

Now you are ready to put into containers and freeze! I use either quart size Ziploc bags or plastic containers, that can be frozen. I place anywhere from two to four cups in a container. Once you’ve gotten them labeled with the amount and the date, place in the freezer. The stock will store for 3 months in the freezer.

So the next time you need stock for homemade chicken noodle soup, it’s as easy as opening up the freezer door!

Frozen Chicken Stock

Also, don’t be afraid to start small in this recipe! Local chicken, in my opinion, is best but that doesn’t mean I’ve never used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for this recipe. You can use the bones the same way you would here. I would recommend though not using the skin as it will probably have lots of sodium from the seasoning they use on the chicken.

So make some stock and send me a picture!

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  1. Very good post, and a very good point (also, your beer-can roast chicken looks fantastic!).

    This is something I’ve written about before myself, because people should know that you can get amazing stock out of chicken – or indeed, lamb or beef bones! And I definitely agree with you about a free-range farm chickens – they taste so, so much better! The idea with veggie peels is also interesting – never tried that!

    The only difference is that I eat the skin from roasted chickens, and I never skim the fat off my stock – but then, I avoid carbohydrates (sugar-sensitivitiy), and so I need the fat in my food (besides, I think the flavor of chicken fat is superb in soup)!

    • Hey Veronika,
      Just an idea on the chowder since you mentioned the sugar sensitivity….if corn & potatoes in the chowder is simply too much then I’d forgo the corn puree and just do a potato puree along with the roasted potato pieces added in. Have a great day! Jessica

  2. Lindsey Ballenger says:

    I’ve never done this, although I roast/smoke whole chickens and buy/use broth A LOT! So I’m gonna do this next time. If I keep up with you I’m gonna need a deep freezer! LOL! Thanks for all the ideas on being more intentional!

  3. This is awesome – I roast chicken all the time but have never made stock. I was intimidated by the thought but you made it look easy. Thank you!!