Always check your flyers for a chicken sale. I don’t mean chicken parts such as chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks or chicken wings but whole chickens. Parts are always more expensive per pound than the whole chicken. When you do see a good sale, buy in volume. Depending on the size of your family and the size of your freezer, volume can mean 2 to 6 chickens or even more.
Developing a new Skill
Before you shop, do a little research on how to butcher a chicken. It’s not rocket science! Videos on the internet provide good visual instructions. I checked some out for you and came across videos that begin in the barn with live chickens. We don’t need to go there. So here are instructions for plucked grocery chickens. The video shows you one technique but as you cut up more chickens you will find your own style. Initially, one chicken may take you 20 minutes or more. I have reduced my time to about 8 minutes per chicken. I can do 6 chickens in less than an hour.
Preparing Chicken Work Area
Set aside a couple of hours for cutting and packaging. You will need a good sharp knife. If you are doing several chickens, it might be good to have a second knife handy. You will also need a sizeable cutting board. Avoid using a wood cutting board because it is more difficult to sanitize. Set out large plates or cookie sheets on which to place cut up chicken pieces. Make some room in your fridge so that you can refrigerate some of the cut up portions before you get to the packaging stage.
For packaging, you will need some cling wrap as well as small and large freezer bags. Keep the skin on the chicken when freezing to keep in moisture. Remove prior to cooking to reduce fat content.
If you are so inclined, pour yourself a glass of wine, pull up a stool and let the work begin!
Results After Butchering 6 Chickens
The choice pieces are:
- 12 chicken breasts
- 12 drumsticks
- 12 thighs
- 24 wing pieces
Depending on the size of your family and what portions are preferred, package enough pieces for a family meal. Each freezer bag will then represent a family meal. Identify each package by its contents.
You can also use cling wrap for each breast, drumstick and thigh and place in freezer bags. When it comes to dinner time, you can select the pieces you need.
You can bag and freeze the wings in portions and use them as desired.
The stock pieces:
- 12 back pieces
- 12 wing tips
- 12 breast bones
- You can package these into several portions and freeze. Use for stock as required.
Or, you can cook the entire batch and make your stock. Remove the remaining meat from the bones and freeze the stock and meat pieces in several containers. You will be surprised how much meat you can remove from the bones once they are cooked.
My favourite is to make soup with the entire batch and then freeze the soup in containers that serve 1 or 2 portions. It makes for a great lunch.
Calculate your Savings
It seems like a lot of work at first. But for a family of 2, you have 15 or more meals.
Because chicken prices vary across the country, find out what the cost per pound for the various cuts is in your area. If you like skinless and boneless compare the same with supermarket prices.
Check to see what the going rate is for chicken wings. Because of their popularity, these skin and bone items command a high price.
Stores now also charge for stock pieces such as backs, so check the price of these as well.
Not only have you saved 3 or 4 times what it would normally cost you for choice chicken parts but your chicken meals are all packaged and ready to go. You saved money — you saved shopping time — and some preparation time. How great is that?