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Fabricating a Chicken – or Not

It can be really easy to overspend on groceries – but you must be careful, especially if you’re working on debt management. As part of my new lifestyle and cooking routine, I was looking for ways to save on meat since it is the most expensive item on most of our shopping lists. I like chicken and it’s relatively cheap, so I searched a bit online. I found you could save a bundle by cutting up your own whole chicken (Don’t get queasy, I didn’t say slaughter – it’s already dead, and clean). I’ve never done that, always believing that chicken parts were born wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. But I bought into the idea that the sum of the parts were greater than the whole, or something like that.

If you're paying off debt, buying a whole chicken is an economical choice.

If you’re paying off debt, buying a whole chicken is an economical choice.

My cleaver is sharpened, let’s go.

The concept of cutting up a chicken versus paying for parts made sense. Backed by a sharp cleaver, my laptop set up in the kitchen cued to a how-to-fabricate-a-chicken video, and a willingness to experiment with butchery, I headed to the store to get a whole chicken. (I’m not sure why they call it “fabricating” a chicken – to me fabricating always meant putting something together.)

When I got there, something struck me. There was a sale on for chicken thighs – the parts I liked the most. 99 cents per pound, when buying a big pack of 6 pounds or more. I thought it was a bargain, and hesitated for a minute. In the interest of my experiment and saving some money I checked out the cost of a whole chicken. Surprise. 99 cents per pound. Hunh? The same price, and I had to deal with the cutting?

Why would I bother playing butcher for free, and getting parts I don’t even like? Not today. I guess this savings potential is dependent on the higher cost of breast meat – which I always find a bit dry and lacking in the flavor of dark meat, but anyway…

I did a little thinking for my best course of action. Thighs were going for $1.79 a pound in the regular pack, and the bargain was only on larger packs if you had the store card, which I did. So, buying the large pack (I actually bought two, one instantly went  into the freezer.) I passed on the whole chicken – it cost more in time, and the extra value was in breast meat.

After cooking up the thighs, and packaging up several portions for later recipes  and having dinner, I got the bones together to make broth. (Yes, I really do that. I make broth.)

It’s so much better than the canned variety, and nearly free, which is perfect for staying on budget. A great addition to sautés, soups, and vegetable dishes. I’ve gone so far as to scoop the bones from Thanksgiving, or meals with family to make broth. I like it that much. If you are not making broth out of your chicken and meat bones, try it. I think you’ll like it, and it saves money while giving you extra flavor in lots of recipes.

I even get a little extra flavor into my broth by cracking the bones open with a clean set of pliers. (A dollar store bargain, they stay in the kitchen for this purpose). There is a ton of flavor and nutrients in the marrow. And you have to strain it anyway. When the broth is finished, I pour it into ice cube trays so I can use as few or as many in recipes as I need. Frozen, the broth lasts a long time.

I may try the cutting up a chicken thing later on. The price difference has to be pretty steep to warrant it. I can’t get caught in the trap of doing things because they save other people money. If it doesn’t fit my preferences and lifestyle, let someone else enjoy those savings. I’ll just wait for the bargains and stock up. I’ll save my cutting skills for fishing season.

If you want to save money in this manner, it really does help. Personally, I just don’t see the sense on saving money on chicken parts that I don’t even like – maybe if I am cooking for guests or family.

Fire up a video about cutting up a whole chicken. It’s really easy, and can save you a bunch on family meals.

My point is, the value of any savings scenario is dependent on the value it means to YOU. Not the price reduction.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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