Each week, usually on Sundays, I roast a chicken. It's a habit I enjoy: trussing the bird, seasoning its skin with ample salt and herbs, and lining the roasting dish with which ever vegetables happen to be in season and easily had. This week I lined the roasting pan with new potatoes, garlic and Preserved Lemons. Last week, I lined it with summer squash and eggplant.
This month, and for the next several months, we're tightening our budget, and cutting food costs where possible. But, I'm not about to give up my weekly roast chicken, and here's why. In my area, a nice pasture-raised broiler fetches between $4 and $5 / lb, and the whole chicken usually hovers in price between $20 and $25. I'm thankful it's this low, considering that, in some areas, the price may be 30% more than what we pay locally.
While it may be easy to balk at paying upwards of $25 for a single broiler when a bird purchased from the grocery store can come in at $3.99 (not per pound, but for the whole bird), it's a cost that's well-justified. That single, good-quality bird can provide up to four meals for an average family of mindful eaters. You see, a pasture-raised bird - expensive as it might seem - provides more nutrients than a conventional bird. Pasture-raised broilers, allowed to access a natural diet, are richer in beta carotene, retinol and omega-3 fatty acids than their factory-farmed, $3.99 counterparts. A good quality, pastured bird goes a long, long way.
Meal #1: Roast Chicken with Vegetables
Start it simple; prepare a good roast chicken. It's a classic one-dish meal, impossibly easy to prepare and profoundly comforting. If you're planning to make this bird last all week long, take care to carve it well and serve small, but satisfactory portions. Two moderate slices of breast meat and two chicken legs should be enough to feed a family of four, provided you include plenty of vegetables. The back meat, the remaining breast meat, the tenders and the thighs can be saved for sandwiches, chicken salad, soup or chili.
Need a little more inspiration? Check out my favorite recipe: Easy Roast Chicken.
Meal #2: Chicken Salad
The next day, pick the chicken clean of any remaining meat, and set it aside. You can use about 2 cups, loosely packed meat to prepare a simple chicken salad. Fresh apples, celery, raisins, grapes, onion and walnuts can help to extend the chicken meat. You can prepare chicken salad sandwiches with homemade sprouted wheat bread,
Meal #3: White Chili
White beans and broth can extend any remaining chicken meat for a simple White Bean and Chicken Chili. Green chilies, white beans, oregano, broth and leftover chicken make an excellent meal. Dark meat and back meat are particularly well-suited to White Chili.
Need a little more inspiration? Check out this recipe: White Bean and Chicken Chili.
Meal #4 (or more): Soup, Soup, and More Soup
Lastly, when the meat is spent, you still have the blessing of bone broth. Use this broth to prepare soups and sauces all week long.