Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stretching a Chicken

This is another post that I have had in drafts for awhile, and I'm just now getting around to finishing it up and posting it!

When planning meals and doing the grocery shopping, we try to be frugal in various ways. And one way that I have found kind of fun, is seeing how many meals I can get out of a chicken. Every once in awhile, a grocery store here will have a really good sale on whole chickens so we will stock up on them and put them in the freezer. Then when we have chicken dishes on the menu, I'll pull out two, thaw them and bake them in the oven together which saves on time and energy as it doesn't take much longer at all to do two instead of one.

Once they're finished baking, they come out of the oven and are 'picked' . . . the last time that I did this, Mom and I picked the meat off of the bones together and turned it into an enjoyable time of visiting. And many hands make short work!

After the meat was all picked off and shredded, it was divided up into bags, and then some was set aside for dinner that night which was this (and the recipe is at the end of this post) . . .

The other three bags of meat were put in the freezer to be used later in casseroles and for chicken salad sandwiches . . . so two chickens turned into four meals! (Plus quite a few meals of leftovers, too.)

They were stretched even further than that, though, as the baked carcasses went out to the chickens, and the broth was strained and put into the freezer to be used in later meals . . .

Do you all have any other ideas of how to make meat stretch further? If so, I would love to hear!

And here is the recipe for the above casserole . . . hope you enjoy!

Chicken Wild Rice Casserole
-1 cup wild rice (different types of rice can work as well - we've used a wild rice mix and next time, I plan to try regular brown rice.) -1/2 cup margarine or butter
-1/4 cup flour

-2 Tbsp. diced onion

-One 8-oz. can sliced mushrooms

-2 to 3 cups cooked diced chicken

-2 cups half and half or milk

-2 Tbsp. parsley

-2 cups chicken broth

-1/2 cup sliced almonds
(we generally use less)

Cook rice in 2 to 3 cups of water for 40-45 minutes or until tender. Melt butter in saucepan and add flour, stirring constantly. Add milk, slowly, whisking to achieve a smooth sauce. Add broth, onion, parsley, rice, chicken and mushrooms. Stir well. Pour into casserole and top with almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


  1. We did a similar post earlier this year, Sarah! We love making chicken sandwiches. Another thing we do is boil the chicken skins and keep the broth. We then freeze the skins and give them to our dog as an occassional treat. He absolutely loves them!

    Here's the link to our "stretching a chicken" post: http://7eagleswings.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-stretch-chicken-mile-and-half.html


  2. That's good advice, thanks for sharing. I sometimes remove big parts like the chicken breast meat before freezing the chickens, and freeze it separately for use in other dishes such as curries. Also, you could boil the carcass to make chicken stock for soup etc.

  3. Like you, Sarah, I enjoy 'stretching' meals! I did wonder, when I saw the title of the post just what you were doing to the poor chicken!
    For two of us I reckon to make a chicken go to three meals. First roasted. Then I take the meat off and use some in a Risotto, or a chicken pie. The rest will usually be eaten in a salad.
    I shall try your recipe, it looks very good.

  4. Hi Sarah,

    Not only do I stretch whole chickens (usually into 3 meals each), but I also use simular techiques with roasts & briskets. I've been known to stretch 1 steak for 6 people by slicing it thin and making it into fajitas OR cutting it into SMALL cubes and converting it into beef stroganoff, a soup, stew or casserole. Not only do the thin slices or small cubes give the perception of more meat it also cooks much faster saving on utility costs. Large portions of vegetables and salads fills everyone up and keeps them satisfied.


    P.S. - Your new baby niece is GEORGEOUS !!! Congratulations to Ryan, Ashley and the rest of the family.

  5. Lots of good ideas here. Thanks for the recipe; it looks good. :-)

  6. Stretching the protein in a main meal is something I always do. We do not eat a lot of beans but I have found I can add chickpeas (I think you call them garbanzos) to a lamb dish and there is little complaint. I have also added a small amount of red lentils to sauces for spaghetti etc. I find it then needs to be watched closely as the sauce catches more easily.

  7. That’s interesting that you did a similar post recently, Bianca! And thank you for sharing those great ideas. I know our dogs would love those treats. Thank you also for sharing the link to your post. I’ll have to stop by and take a look at it!

  8. Thank you for sharing that idea, Agnes! And especially about boiling the carcass to make chicken stock for soup . . . I’ll give that a try next time.

  9. It’s fun, isn’t it, Elizabeth? Your comment about the title made me laugh . . . the thought didn’t cross my mind that someone might think it was an alive chicken!

    Chicken pie is so good . . . Leah and I just recently tried a new recipe for chicken pot pie, and we loved it. It was nice, too, as it didn’t use much chicken at all to make a nice sized casserole which lasted us for two meals. That’s a great idea to use the chicken in salads as well.

    I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  10. Those are some really good ideas, Mrs. B! Thank you for mentioning them. I will be sure to give them a try!

    And thank you for your congratulations regarding Adelyn! This is such an exciting and special time for Ryan and Ashley and for all of us as well. God has been so good!

  11. Thank you for your comment, Miss Anne, and if you should try the recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

  12. What a great idea, Suze, to add beans into your meat dishes! I hadn’t really thought much about that before, but after reading your comment, I have a lot of ideas now. Thank you for sharing that!

  13. Rather then dumping the baked bones right away, make bone broth.
    Put all the bones in a pot, cover with cold water, add a small glug of vinegar, and simmmer for 24 hours.
    Remove bones, and cool and freeze the broth.
    Do not skim it.
    It shoud be very gelatinus.

    There is lots of info on this type of broth making ( you can doe this will all bines) at www.westonaprice.org, and in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.

  14. fyi, I meant to add that you can do this in a crockpot, so you do not damage the broth by boiling.

  15. What a great post! We are vegan in our house but I also am always trying to figure out a way to stretch food. I make a *mock* chicken and use it for chicken salad sandwiches and other things. I think that I will try the recipe out with the chicken I make! :o) thanks for the recipe my dear!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)