How To Stretch Meals From One Chicken

Buying a whole chicken and stretching it to make multiple meals makes sense in so many ways. Environmentally less processing, packaging and energy used in a whole rather than individual portions. Health reasons, reducing your meat intake and maximising your vegetables brings health benefits. Financially because it is usually cheaper to buy a whole chicken than individual portions, and if you use all of it you will make the most of your chicken and save your pocket!

Fresh V Frozen

Depending on what you have access to and how you shop, may depend on whether you buy a fresh or frozen chicken. I always buy a fresh whole chicken just because I know if for some reason I didn’t use it, it could go straight in the freezer whole or cut up. In general I’m usually using it within a couple of days of purchase and certainly within any use by dates.

I also like to keep some cooked chicken back and freeze it for another meal. Although technically you could refreeze a meal made with previously frozen chicken, I personally prefer not to.

One thing you definitely cannot do is refreeze raw chicken that has been defrosted. However you can refreeze a meal that has been created from a thawed frozen chicken once.

This is why I personally buy fresh so that I know I can cook and freeze without concern of how many times the meat from the chicken has been frozen.

Cook First Or Chop Up

Although there is nothing to stop you chopping up a chicken before cooking, especially if you want to freeze or use parts of a fresh chicken, such as legs and wings for a different type of recipe. In reality it’s harder to cut up than a cooked chicken, which once cooked will literally just fall apart once you start handling it.

Top Tips

Care must be taken handling raw meat, the equipment you use and suitable storage. Ensure you avoid any contact with other food items.

Whenever you are using frozen chicken (cooked or uncooked) ensure it has been thoroughly defrosted preferably overnight in a fridge and used within 1 day.

#1 Roast Dinner

I know I’m perhaps biased being from the UK but in my opinion you can’t beat a Sunday Roast! Yummy family meal, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots can go in the same roasting tin or separate if you prefer. I usually make a cauliflower and broccoli cheese in advance which also gets popped into the oven at the same time. With or without stuffing, lashings of gravy. Most people in my experience want breast. Top tip to save on the meat consumption, don’t put the whole bird on the table, slice thinly and plate up individual portions, a spoonful of stuffing, a couple of potatoes and a splash of gravy make the plate look fuller and people are able to help themselves to the vegetables on the table.

The bird remaining in the kitchen is harder to get to and less likely to be picked at. Meaning more meals can be made from it!

#2 Remove All The Meat

Either the same day as roasting or at most the next day, I remove all the meat from the bones. As the chicken has been roasted it falls off easily. I separate it into different smaller containers. The skin, gristly parts and bones are put together in one (to make stock). The rest of the meat is pulled off the bones, legs and wings included and divided up, not forgetting underneath the bird. I try and divide the meat into the portion sizes I am likely to use as a maximum for future meals, whether that be later in the week or to freeze. In the images below the chances are by using other ingredients, particularly vegetables in my cooking I will be able to stretch 2 main meals for a family of 3/4 from one container of chicken.

If you have family members that prefer to eat off the bone, then you can keep the legs and wings in tact. However I do find that because I strip the bones and usually combine the meat with other ingredients, it tends to go further.

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