By April Swiger, Contributing Writer
One of the most frugal homemaking practices I’ve adopted is roasting a whole chicken each week. My husband and I live on his tight pastor’s salary, desiring to be good stewards of the money God has given us, while still eating as healthy as possible. This habit has proved very helpful as I’ve sought to find joy in my calling as a homemaker.
As we wait for God to bless us with children through adoption, I’m thankful that I’ve had this season to exercise my gift of creativity in the kitchen. It’s a fun challenge for me to create delicious and nourishing meals, making sure that nothing goes to waste.
I was completely intimidated to cook a whole chicken at first, but once I tried it, I saw how beautifully simple it really is. Since moving back to chilly (and expensive) New England last year, this practice has become even more important than it was in the past.
My favorite roast chicken recipe is simple, absolutely delicious, and can be done in any kitchen (and mine is teeny tiny!). Here are five ways I stretch a whole chicken throughout the week.
1. Roast Chicken
- 1 Whole Chicken (I find Trader Joe's has the best price for organic/free-range chickens)
- 6 Inches of cotton cooking twine
- 2-3 TBLS. Coconut oil, olive oil, or butter
- Half a lemon
- 3 Garlic cloves, still in the peel is fine
- Sea salt and pepper
- Optional - Fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary, or any variety of dried herbs. Garlic and onion powder add a nice taste as well. Seasonal vegetables to roast in the bottom of the pan, like potatoes and carrots or parsnips, make this an easy one-pot meal.
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Rinse you chicken in cool water, and pat it dry. Place it in a roasting pan, glass baking dish, or cast iron skillet. I have used all three with success.
- Place the half lemon, and garlic cloves, inside the chicken. This step is optional, and if I don't have lemons on hand, I will skip it with no issue. However, the lemon gives it a delicious flavor, and the scent while cooking is amazing!
- Take your twine, and tie the legs of the chicken together, so the inside cavity is closed up. No fancy trussing needed!
- Sprinkle your chicken with sea salt and pepper, and any variety of herbs you choose.
- Coconut oil is my favorite oil for roasting a chicken. I scoop about 2-3 tablespoons onto the chicken. You could also drizzle it with olive oil, or use a few pads of butter.
- Add any chopped vegetables to the pan. My favorite combination are carrots and potatoes.
- Cook for 60-90 minutes, depending on how large your chicken is. I'll typically check it half way through, and spoon the melted oil back onto the skin so it crisps up nice.
- When it's done (use a meat thermometer to check for a temperature of 180-185F in the thickest part of the thigh), let the chicken sit for 10 minutes. Be sure to indulge in the crispy skin after it sits!
We will typically eat the thighs and legs for dinner that night, with a side of vegetables, or a fresh salad.
I have adapted countless soup recipes by substituting raw chicken for leftover cooked chicken. It cuts the cook time significantly, and we don’t waste any bit of that lovely roast chicken. My favorite chicken soup with herbs is a go-to frugal recipe during the colder months.
3. Chicken Salads
The day after I roast a chicken, we will eat chicken salads for lunch. This is really easy for me to prepare the night before, and we have found eating leftovers to be one of the biggest ways to save money. A bed of lettuce, topped with apples, walnuts, avocado, and shredded chicken breast is a great way to stretch a roast chicken on a tight budget.
4. Curry Dishes
After living in East Asia for a year, I have a deep love for all kinds of Asian food. Couple some leftover chicken with a can of coconut milk, fresh vegetables, a variety of spices, and you have a quick and easy curry dinner.
5. Nourishing Bone Broth
Nourishing bone broth is essential in any frugal, healthy kitchen! After roasting my chicken, I will pick off every bit of meat, store it in glass containers, and freeze the bones and carcass to make nourishing bone broth later that week. My freezer is always stockpiled with containers of broth, ready to use for soups all winter long.
How would you stretch a whole chicken on a tight budget? I would love to hear your creative ideas in the comment section!
April is a follower of Jesus, wife to worship-pastor Adam, and a hopeful adoptive mom, living in New England. She writes about many topics ranging from adoption to homemaking to real food and natural living. Her heart is to put the gospel on display by redeeming the great and high calling of homemaker.