Several years ago I hit a wall with our eating and food budget. I blogged about my frustrations with never staying in our food budget and feeling helpless in the department of feeding my family healthy food at a low cost.
That cry for help was the best thing I ever did. I got the best advice and encouragement and it forever changed the way we eat, cook and shop.
I began looking at everything I was buying and really thought about how I could simply that food and make it myself. For example, I used to buy canned refried black beans, but now I buy a bag of dry black beans for half the cost and make them myself...healthier and cheaper. I'll share that recipe soon because it's SO yummy.
We don't eat very much red meat, but primarily eat chicken as our source of protein. A good friend shared this tip and it's saved us tons over the years.
It's as simple as this: buy a whole chicken!
Even an organic whole chicken is going to be cheaper than buying prepackaged chicken breasts...which I used to do.
Once a week, I put a whole chicken in a crockpot and turn in on low. You can sprinkle it with salt and pepper if you want, but it's not a must.
It should be done in about 6 hours.
I usually just jab a fork in it to see if it easily shreds.
Once it's cooled, take the meat off the bones (it should just fall off) and put the bones back in the crock pot. Fill it with water and sprinkle a little more salt in it. Put it back on low over night and in the morning you have home made chicken broth for free!
So for our family of 5, for about $5.00, a whole chicken can last us a week, usually providing 3 meals.
Some weeks I'll cut of the breasts for one meal and cook the rest for 2 other meals. Other weeks, I'll throw in some veggies and sweet potatoes and season the chicken different for a main meal and use the leftovers for remaining meals.
This method also saves time because I don't have to worry about forgetting to thaw chicken in the afternoon. It's cooked and ready to go for whatever meal I want to create.
Just a warning: if you are pregnant, the smell of chicken all day is not fun. Hubs had to cook it in the garage when I was pregnant with #3. Our neighbors thought we were nuts, but it worked.