Monday, January 23, 2012

Saving Money- One Bird At a Time: Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot and Homemade Chicken Stock

So my blog is to help you save money right? One of the most fundamental things I've learned about frugal cooking is the fact that chicken is so much less expensive than beef! Before I read that somewhere on a blog about saving money, I hadn't even thought about it. The idea that ground hamburger is always the cheapest choice seemed matter of fact. But it's true. A pound of hamburger is around $2-$3. Most chicken is sold under $0.99 per pound. And the cheapest, healthiest way to eat chicken is to buy a whole chicken and prepare it yourself. You're scared aren't you? Most people can't stomach the idea of having to put their hands all over a raw chicken. It is pretty disgusting. But it's amazing the things you'll do if you really want to save money!

I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi. They get a bad rep but their products are quality and much more inexpensive than Dillons (Kroger) and sometimes even Wal-Mart. Something about contributing to a company that doesn't constantly raise their prices and wants people to save money is one of the reasons I shop there. Also... to save money! Aldi has their chickens priced at $0.85 per pound. So a chicken that is 5 pounds costs $4.25 before tax. Dustin and I (and Bette Davis Jr.) usually get 3 meals out of one chicken. (Well, Bette usually only gets one. But she is always close by looking for handouts while I prepare it.) One way to prepare a whole chicken is to cook it in your crock pot before cutting it up.

1. The first step is to rinse your chicken inside and out then pat it dry with paper towels. (I don't know why they say paper towels, but that's what everyone else says. I have used a dish towel before and Bette Davis Jr. dug it out of the laundry and tried to eat it... Perhaps that's why they recommend paper towels.) Some chickens have "innards" or "guts" so you have to remove those too.

2. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.

3. If your plans for your chicken are for soups, pasta, tacos or anything that you'll be chopping or shredding later, you only need to add a few of your favorite seasonings. I usually use a little salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. But if you are going to serve your chicken whole, it's very important to separate the skin from the breast meat but keep the skin attached. Then rub salt under the skin as far as you can reach. (EW!) This keeps your chicken juicy. I also recommend using a homemade rub on the outside. Here is one for Rotisserie Chicken that I love:

Rotisserie Chicken Rub

2 Tablespoons Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon Sage
1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary
Water, Olive Oil, or Chicken Stock

Combine all the seasonings in a bowl. Gradually add water OR olive oil OR chicken stock until you have a paste. Rub paste all over the chicken and inside the cavity.

4. Place your chicken inside the slow cooker breast side up and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. (Until it reaches 180 degrees.)

5. If you're serving your whole chicken for dinner you're done! But if you're using it for a casserole, tacos, soup, etc. allow your chicken to cool. Then pull the meat off the bone easily using your fingers.

6. Next put the bones back in the crock pot with the drippings. Sometimes I also put the skin back in too if I'm not planning on using it.

7. Add about 6 cups of water and cook on low overnight.

8. In the morning (if you have time) strain the bones and skin out of the juice and you now have your own homemade chicken stock! (I usually turn the crock pot off and put the pot in the fridge until I get home from work and then strain it.)

Your broth can last up to 6 months in the freezer. Once it has cooled you have to scrape a layer of fat off the top with a spoon. No big!


  1. That looks AMAZING! I always forget about Aldi until we're so broke we're cashing in our change for grocery money. So happy to know that their whole chickens are so inexpensive. Stavro also thanks you for that little tidbit. ;)


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