Better Budgeting: Planning Meals Ahead

Planning Meals Ahead

Money Saving Tip of the Month (featured column)
submitted by Stephanie of Archbald, Pennsylvania

Here is a great way to plan ahead and save money!

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I buy a whole chicken, for 2 of us, and I usually only spend about $3-$4 on the store brand bird. I can get 3 or 4 meals out of it.  I remove giblets, rinse it, season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, etc. No need to trim fat or skin. Then I put it in the crockpot (no liquid necessary), top with carrots, celery, and onions for seasoning and serving. Cook on high for 3.5 to 4 hours. (It will fall apart and make a mess if cooked too long, or at a lower temp setting.)

Separate veggies, chicken, and stock. Strip chicken of EVERY bit of meat. Even the tiny pieces of rib meat will fall off the bone after simmering in the crockpot.

For the first meal, I make stuffing and a little gravy from the stock in the crockpot and there you go... easy. After this meal, I have fully cooked, tender chicken to drop into casseroles, skillet dishes, pot pie, salads, even fajitas and fettuccini Alfredo.

In addition to saving money, my weekday cooking takes half the time!

Some chickens make enough broth for a nice big pot of chicken soup, or I freeze the broth for use in future dishes. I usually separate the white meat, dark meat, and scrap pieces (for soup and pot pies) and choose my next meals based on what type of meat is available.

If you put your mind to it, you can come up with tons of easy, inexpensive, and delicious ways to reincarnate that chicken. It's the most effective money saving, time saving, SANITY saving thing I have ever done for myself.

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Editor's Note: When you have even a small amount of juices from cooking your chicken (without water) in the crockpot, simply add water to make your own broth. Chill in large container and skim off fat before using. Then you can freeze the chicken broth in airtight containers or use for soups or other recipes, like the Chicken 'n Dumplings in our Frugal Family Recipes cookbook! :o)


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