What to Cook for Dinner?
Meat can be the most expensive item you purchase when grocery shopping. Prices have been going up on meat but you can still get good deals. These tips will help you save money on chicken and can help you stretch your grocery dollars.
Best Ways to Save Money on Chicken
It’s hard to feed your family healthy meals when protein prices keep climbing. We eat a lot of chicken because it’s one protein source I can find on sale often. It can be used in lots of different ways too.
You can pre-cook it for a quick lunch or dinner. You can marinate it and grill, roast, or cook the chicken in the slow cooker. You can even bread it for chicken nuggets or chicken tenders. That’s my son’s favorite way to eat chicken.
But you can save the most when you know what cuts of meat to buy and what price per pound to purchase the chicken at, so you can stock up and not have to pay full price. Plus I have tips on how to freeze each cut of chicken to make it easy to thaw and cook. Saving you time with getting dinner done.
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Now onto the tips…
Where to Purchase Chicken
You can purchase chicken at the grocery store, meat market and other stores too. But my favorite place to purchase chicken is from Zaycon Fresh. I’ve been purchasing chicken from them for 4 years now.
Zaycon Fresh is great if you like boneless skinless chicken breasts. The chicken is sold in 40-pound cases. So you need to have room in the freezer to store that much chicken or have friends to split a case with. I used to split a case with friends but recently I’ve been keeping the whole 40 pounds for our family.
But I can’t always get chicken from Zaycon Fresh when we are close to running out. They have a delivery schedule and when you purchase a case of chicken, it can be a few months before the order is delivered.
When this happens I’ll purchase chicken from the grocery store. I keep my eye out for a good deal on chicken and I’ll buy 10-20 pounds at a time to hold us over until I can get a full case.
For other cuts of chicken, I purchase those at our local grocery store.
What Cuts of Chicken to Buy
I purchase three types of chicken. I purchase chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and whole chickens. I rarely purchase legs or wings because no one at our house eats them well. And I’ve discovered that the price has to be great to compete with the meat to bone ratio of the other cuts of chicken.
Save Money on Whole Chicken
I like to purchase whole chicken in the fall and winter. They are great for roasting. But I do little roasting in the summer. Plus when we eat a whole chicken, I take the carcass and boil it to make broth for soups and stews. To stretch the chicken meat and to get as much as I can out of each bird.
Price Point for Whole Chicken
Prices of whole chicken have gone up over the last few years. It used to be I could find whole chickens on sale for about $.70 a pound. But my best buy price now is around $.90 a pound.
I can find chicken at $.90 a pound often. And I’ll purchase one or two at that price knowing it will come around soon. But if I find it below my buy price, I will stock up if I have room in the freezer.
Ways to Freeze Whole Chickens
With whole chickens, I used to purchase them and put them right into the freezer from the store. But now I do things differently.
I don’t like to handle raw meat. It’s not something I look forward to.
When I get the whole chickens home from the store, I prep them and then freeze them.
I take the whole chicken and remove the extra heart, liver, etc from the cavity. Then I’ll add seasoning to the cavity and under the skin. Once the chicken is seasoned, I’ll place it into a gallon size freezer bag. Remove as much air as I can and then freeze.
When I want to roast a chicken or two, all I have to do this thaw the whole chicken and place it in the pan.
All the yucky stuff is done when I bring it home. Making it so much easier to roast.
But if you like chicken breasts better, no problem keep on reading they are next.
Save Money on Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts are the most consumed type of chicken at our house and probably yours too. They are easy to cook or cut up and most everyone loves them as long as they aren’t overcooked.
They work great in casseroles, can be prepared with a sheet pan dinner or grilled. This is a great go-to cut of chicken to eat. There are two ways to purchase chicken breasts, bone-in or boneless. Which to choose depends on how you’ll be preparing them and what the price is.
Bone-In versus Boneless Breasts or other Cuts
Purchasing chicken breasts or other cuts with bone-in or boneless is a preference. I will purchase bone-in cuts if the price is low enough to warrant paying for the bones and skin. And depending on how I’ll be preparing the chicken.
If I’m grilling the chicken, bone-in is fine with me. I’ll purchase bone-in breasts and thighs to grill or bake. But if I’ll be making chicken freezer meals, I prefer boneless. They are easier to prepare for the freezer and no sharp bone fragments to punch a hole in the freezer bag.
So what’s the best price…
The Buy Price for Chicken Breast
Like I mentioned above I purchase most of our chicken breasts through Zaycon Fresh. They are hard to beat. With a sale and a coupon code, I’ve purchased chicken at $1.49 per pound. And that’s boneless skinless chicken breast so there is very little waste.
At the supermarket, I’ll purchase boneless skinless chicken breasts at $1.99 per pound or less. I can find chicken breast on sale for that price at least once a month. So I don’t purchase them when they are above that price I wait for a sale.
But when I find bone-in chicken breasts for $.99 a pound or less, they become the clear winner to purchase. It’s half the price of the boneless skinless chicken breast and the waste or bones on a bone in breast is very little weight. Plus it’s simple to debone a chicken breast and worth the little of time it takes.
And once the bones are removed, you can boil the bones to make broth too. So the waste is tiny. The only drawback is its hard to find them at that price. They only hit that price point about two times a year. Most of the time, bone-in chicken breasts are $1.39 a pound and at that price, I will pass on them.
Ways to Freeze Chicken Breasts
Prepping chicken breasts for the freezer is quick and easy. You know from above I don’t like to mess with raw chicken much. So I do all I can to prep the chicken before it hits the freezer shelf.
Then when I thaw the chicken, it goes directly to the pan. I do all the messy chicken prep when I purchase it and I’m done for a while.
I will cut the chicken breasts into serving-size pieces and then add them to a marinade or put a rub on them. Some chicken I will pre-cook so I have cooked chicken ready and waiting in the freezer.
Other portions, I will cut up into chunks or slices for recipes that call for that chicken. By prepping the chicken this way, we always have it ready to go in so many recipes with little work at all.
If you are interested in making a few chicken meal for the freezer with no pre-cooking of the chicken, check out our chicken freezer ebook. It has 8 chicken recipes you can prep for the freezer in about an hour.
Thighs, Legs, and Wings
We purchase boneless and bone-in chicken thighs from time to time but I don’t purchase legs or wings. Our family isn’t good at eating legs or wings. Plus the price per pound is the same as the thighs which I feel you get more meat and less bone on that cut of chicken.
Are they worth the price?
Unless you love, wings or legs, I find they aren’t worth the price. You can get the same amount of meat or more on a thigh. And the thighs are often the same price as the wings and legs per pound.
For our family for the money, I feel out of these three cuts thighs are the best buy. But you have to decide for your own family. If wings are a favorite of yours, they might be worth the cost to you.
Price point for Thighs
I often see the price of thighs, bone-in or boneless, to be more than the chicken breasts. But occasionally I’ll see bone-in thighs for $.60 cents a pound. At that price, I can debone them and use them in many dishes. But often I’ll find them at $2.29 a pound or more. At that price, I pass them by.
For boneless thighs, I like to buy them at $1.99 or less. $1.69 per pound is a good sale stock up price I use.
Ways to Freeze Thighs
When I find chicken thighs on sale, I’ll prep them the same way I prep chicken breasts. They work just as well in many recipes as the chicken breast does and some people like them better too.
They are a little harder to cube or slice than a breast. But they work great in freezer meals with marinades or rubs. They also grill nicely since they have a little more fat than a breast.
Save Money on Chicken
To save the most money on chicken you need to decide what your family likes the best. If chicken breasts are your favorite, then purchasing whole chicken might not be the best for your family.
It all comes down to what your family will eat and what’s the best price you can get.
The prices I shared above might be low for your area or high depending on where you live. We live on the west coast and prices are higher here than other places. Why that is I don’t know. So you might get a much better buy on chicken where you live.
If you purchase bone-in chicken make the most by using the bones to make your own homemade chicken stock. It’s easy to do in the crockpot.
You can also make chicken soup kits with homemade broth and leftover chicken pieces. I make these anytime I make a whole chicken or turkey. Then all that is needed is to thaw the chicken or turkey soup kit, add vegetables and simmer.
Those are my best tips to save money on chicken. I’d love to hear how you save on chicken too. Leave me a comment and let me know.