The Ultimate Guide to Whole Chicken. How to buy it, prep it, cook it and get the most out of it.

August 14, 2022

Eat healthier while saving time and money. Whole chicken is by far the best buy for your money, the easiest to prepare and most affordable way to get the maximum number of healthy meals for your family. This little guide is designed to help you do that. 

What does a whole chicken provide? A delightful FIRST meal of your choice! A whole chicken cooked in the oven, crock pot, or instant pot provides about two cups of healthy delicious stock that can be used for a variety of future culinary uses. Then your chicken provides the family a delightful first meal of your choice, often at the beginning of the week. After the first meal, the bird is cooled and completely deboned, yielding an additional couple of cups of meat to that will serve as the basis for future healthy meals. The thriftiest cook will save keep the bones of the deboned carcass and save them up for making to make soup broth for another day for soups later. 

5 Tips for Buying whole chicken. According to USDA food safety, poultry can be kept frozen for up to a year.

Tip #1: – Buy in Bulk. Often, farmers will offer bulk options that are the better pricing structure.

Tip #2: – Go to the Farm to Buy. “On farm” sales often come with better pricing for obvious reasons. - Ask your farmer if he or she has a lower price for “on farm” purchases.

Tip # 3: – Look for Fresh Chicken Options. Some farms offer fresh chicken options surrounding each harvest. These options are usually for the very best price structure the farmer offers. These Fresh chickens can be broken down - but they can also be frozen whole.  

Tip #4: - Sign Up for Farm Newsletters. - so you can learn of specials that your farmer may be offering. 

Tip #5: - Look for big chickens. Often a farmer will produce broilers that are extra- large, almost too large for retail sales. This is not intentional; it just happens. Large birds don’t not sell well in warm weather and are ultimately put on sale. If you are paying attention, you can often stock up well and save as much as a dollar a per pound or more. 

Our Favorite Whole Chicken Recipes 

Miss Cathy’s Super Simple Slow Cooker Chicken. There is not an easier whole chicken recipe out there.

Miss Kelly’s Whole Chicken . Kelly likes crock pot cooking, but wants to serve on a platter.

Miss Jen's Perfect Roast Chicken. A delightful roast chicken recipe with a nice presentation.

Our family’s favorite “second and third meal’ recipes are super easy and healthy.

Five minutes on google will yield an arsenal of recipes for the most popular protein in the world – and you can pick the ones based on the way you like to cook. Below are our my family’s “Go To” leftover chicken meals. We raised our kids on them and they continue to serve us today. They are super easy, healthy and help us get the most out of our chicken.

1. Chicken Broccoli Casserole

2. Chicken and Dumplings

3. Chicken Pot Pie

4. Chicken Enchiladas 

Favorite lunch meals. Eventually your whole chicken will be whittled down to just a little bit of chicken – like half a cup or less. You can do a lot with just a little bit of chicken. In our house, Chicken Salad Sandwiches are always the top pick for it's simplicity and customizability based on what you have in the fridge and cupboard.

Tips on Cutting up a Fresh Whole Chicken. Buying fresh chicken and breaking them down yourself is a way to save money while eating healthier. There are a ton of videos on YouTube on how to cut a bird. This 2-minute video is pretty good.

10 Tips for Stretching your chicken further. 

Tip # 1 Save the stock from the first cooking in a mason jar in the fridge. You can use a teaspoon at a time to be added to any dish for enhanced added flavor. Real stock congeals in the fridge. Think of this gelatinous gold as healthier replacement for a bullion cube.

Tip #2 – Save the fat that rises to the top of your stock. This superior animal fat called “schmaltz” can be used for a variety of culinary purposes (think substitute for lard or butter). Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. 

Tip #3: Buy a bigger bird. If you fully intend to debone your bird after the first meal to get meat for a bunch of future meals - get a slightly bigger bird than you need for meal #1. Bigger Roasters tend to pack on breast meat and often you can do better than buying two smaller birds.  

Tip #4: Skip the first meal - just cook him and debone for future meals. Nothing says you have to have a first meal. A whole 4 pound cooked chicken completely deboned will yield about 6 cups of meat - that's a lot of chicken pot pies.

Tip #5 Save backs or cages from breaking down your own fresh chicken. Use to make larger batches of chicken broth for winter canning.

Tip #6: Look for or ask your farmer about fresh Chicken back options. The chicken back is the top choice for broth makers. Backs are usually bought frozen, but could be bought fresh. If you are gearing up to can a big batch of broth for the year, it might be worth a trip to the farm. Talk to your farmer, you might be surprised how easy it is and how much money you can save.

Tip #7: Keep (freeze) the bones, cartilage, skin, back bone of your cooked whole chicken. The bones from 2-3 crock pot chickens can serve as the base for another round of broth making. Simply load in a crock pot, add scrap veggies and water and cook all day. This delightful bone broth is nutritious and very healthy.

Tip #8 Crock Pot broth can be kept in a jar in the refrigerator for several days. These smaller batches of broth can be used as a water replacement for any recipe or serve as the base for soups.

Tip #9 Have a healthy hot toddy. There is a wealth of literature on health benefits of drinking bone broth as part of your nighty routine.

Tip #10: Save / freeze - ends of carrots, celery, onions etc from other meal preps. Then when it is time to make your broth - you have some veggies to add.

Enjoy and happy, healthy cooking !

Kevin and Cathy Jacobi

Land Basket Farm

2707 Warrensburg Road

Russellville, Tn, 37860


Cathy Jacobi
Read more posts like this