Monday Mission: Buy A Whole Chicken {Debunking 6 Objections to Buying A Whole Bird}

6 Objections To Buying the whole birdYour mission, should you choose to accept it, is to STOP buying boneless skinless chicken breast and buy a whole chicken instead.Welcome to a four-part series giving Help Handling the Whole Chicken!We’re starting off with a Monday Mission. Now if you’ve been around Kitchen Stewardship® for very long, you may be scratching your head at how this is a new baby step. We’ve talked about buying whole chickens in the past, the benefits of getting them from a local farmer, and ways to cook it whole.In fact, you may have already committed to never buying meat from the grocery store again.That’s fantastic! If you’re a long-time reader, don’t skip reading this post. This Monday Mission can still apply to you! I’ve got a special challenge just for you at the end. Hang in there!Debunking 6 Common Objections to Buying the Whole Bird. Why you should use whole chickens -- Buying a whole chicken from a local farmer is cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken breasts.If you’re still looking for more info on cooking the perfect chicken every time, check out Craftsy. Their classes are awesome because the instructors are professionals and once you buy the course, you may view it at any time (no expiration!) and can pause and repeat to make sure you catch everything. I highly recommend checking it out! ~KatieAnd if you’re new to Kitchen Stewardship® (welcome!) you may be wondering why this is even a mission worth considering. Over the years, I’ve heard many objections to cooking a whole bird … and have raised many myself! So let’s take a look at 6 common objections to buying a whole bird from a local farmer.

Objection #1: But I Can Get Tyson Chicken Meat On Good Sale!

There is no harder argument to overcome than that of the wallet. When I first decided to drop $18 on a whole chicken from a local farmer – rather than $6 on a package of chicken breast from Kroger – I’m pretty sure I thought I was crazy.I mean, I just tripled my cost of meat!!I knew deep down that buying a local, pastured chicken would be better for us nutritionally. But it still made my wallet wince. But I realized I needed to stop looking at the total cost of meat and pay greater attention to the per-pound product:
  1. I can get more meals out of a whole chicken than a package of breasts. A typical 1.5# package will last one dinner with maybe – maybe – light leftovers for lunch the next day. A whole chicken can create at least 4 meals with enough leftovers for multiple meals. The numbers:
    • $6 chicken breast package works out to $6 per meal
    • $18 whole chicken works out to $4.50 per meal
  1. Store-bought chicken is routinely “plumped” up to 15% with a saline solution during processing to create a “better flavor.” Legally, meat can be plumped up to 15%! From a budget standpoint, that means you are paying more for liquid and less for meat. If you’re buying the typical 1.5# package of chicken breast, a solid 1/5th of that is plumping liquid. (Source 1, 2,)
    • In other words, you’re paying for more water AND less meat. So really, your cost of meat is actually higher than what is reflected on the label.
  1. If you’re not careful, you can easily pay more per pound for factory-farmed boneless skinless chicken breast than pastured, locally raised whole chicken.
Okay, I’m going to throw some numbers at you. If you’re not a numbers nerd like me, I hope this doesn’t make your eyes gloss over…
    • When NOT on sale, Tyson breast is running $3.49/lb at the grocery. If you’re wondering why you should reconsider buying this factory-farmed meat, click here.
    • Amish Miller breast right now costs $5.89/lb. This is a mid-range meat that is all vegetarian fed, but still grown in a large silo-like barn under less-than-ideal conditions and no sunshine.
    • Organic chicken runs a whopping $6.99/lb at my local grocery store. This doesn’t mean the birds are guaranteed to be on pasture and see sunshine. Just that their feed is GMO-free.
    • I can buy a whole chicken from my farmer for $3.50/lb. If I take the breast meat off myself, I can get boneless skinless breast for $3.50/lb. The closest comparable product that my grocery store can offer is TWICE THE PRICE of buying local! 
  1. Do yourself a favor. Stop buying chicken broth and bouillon cubes. You can create FREE nutritious chicken broth by using leftover bones from your whole chicken – which lessens the overall cost. For the sake of this example, let’s just pick a generic chicken size of 4-lbs.
    • I can purchase organic chicken broth for essentially 13 cents/ounce. That works out to $33.28 for two gallons.
    • Technically, I can easily make two gallons of chicken broth for free with the leftover bones. But let’s say that I threw away the meat away (gasp!) and paid $14 for the bones. That’s still a savings!
    • If I bought 4 pounds of organic boneless-skinless meat and two gallons of broth, that would cost me a whopping: $61.24 (*faints*).
    • If I bought 4 pounds of Tyson boneless-skinless meat and two gallons of Swanson-brand broth (at 9 cents/ounce), that would cost me: $37.00.
(I know what you’re saying – a 4 pound whole chicken doesn’t necessarily yield 4 pounds of meat!! True. So I weighed the meat and bones to see how much meat I actually got. 75% of the weight was meat/edible. So let’s change the ratio: If I bought THREE pounds of Tyson meat and two gallons of Swanson broth, that would still cost me: $33.51. A whole 4# chicken from my farmer? $14. That’s STILL a 50% savings.)1 Cabbage Secret Superfood Soup

Objection #2: But I Hate Soup. Why Would I Want To Make Broth?

Hey, I totally get this one. What’s the point in making broth if you hate eating soup? There are seasons of my life where I crave soup. And other seasons when I gag at the thought. Broth is so awesome for you. It has valuable nutrients and even immune-boosting properties. But … it does you no good if you don’t actually eat it. So how do you use up broth if you don’t like soup? It’s easier than you might think.
  • The next time you use rice, swap out the water for chicken broth.
  • Making pasta? Boil it in broth, rather than water.
  • Cooking dry beans? Do it in broth.
You get the idea…Using broth to cook your grains really won’t impact the flavor at all, but it will infuse your grains with some of the wonderful benefits of broth. Something is better than nothing, right? 🙂 Now, promise not to look at me weird…. Sometimes you just need to change how you eat the broth. My kids love the occasional homemade chicken-broth-popsicle (HEY – I meant it when I said no weird looks!). My son loves to drink broth out of a mug with a straw for a snack, though he’s not a huge fan of soup. Creativity is never a bad thing… If you are a soup fan, click HERE for all the KS soup recipes and HERE for any recipe using chicken stock, including casseroles and rice dishes.6 objections to buying the whole birdConvinced yet? Don’t forget to check out the rest of the series:
  1. How to Cut up a Whole Chicken (Video Tutorial)
  2. Two Fail-Proof Ways to Cook a Whole Chicken
  3. Meal Plan like a Pro with 16+ Whole Chicken Recipes and Tips

Objection #3: But We Prefer to Eat Lunch Meat Because It’s Fast and Easy

You don’t have to just eat chicken for dinner. Use some of your cooked meat for lunch! We used to be a sandwiches-for-lunch-every-day family. But between the volume of bread we ate (half a loaf in one lunch?!) and the cost of lunch meat, that option quickly became fast, easy, and EXPENSIVE.The Healthy Lunch Box eBook really helped me re-think the cost of lunches and how lunch meat was secretly draining my budget. Perhaps the best discovery I made was serving cooked chicken meat for lunch. We sometimes dress it up by drizzling on Italian salad dressing. Or a dash of basil and oregano. Or a sprinkle of parmesan. By the way, check your price-per-POUND of lunch meat. A good quality, nitrate-free lunch meat easily costs twice as much as a whole chicken. WHAT?! You may not notice the shock factor because you’re paying $3.99 for a 7-ounce package that seems to be a deal! But when you compare ounces and pounds, that’s $9.12/lb for lunch meat! A whole chicken will run you far, far, far less. And you may want to check the ingredients of your deli lunch meat. You’ll be surprised where corn syrup, fillers, and even lactose/dairy products can sneak in.

The ingredients in a whole chicken? Chicken.

So there. Save your money. Stop buying lunch meat and put the money toward getting a whole chicken! And then roast your own for lunch meat.

Objection #4: But I Don’t Like Touching Whole Chicken

Oh. I hear you. I bought whole chickens for two years before I ever touched them. I would do extreme acrobatics to flip them out of the plastic wrapper into the crockpot, praying my fingers never touched the meat. It took me a solid five years before I would even consider cutting apart a whole chicken.(I’ll share more on that story in the next post in this series.)If touching a whole chicken makes you queasy – and I totally get it! – stay tuned for a hassle-free, touch-free way to cook a whole bird.But once you summon the bravery to touch raw chicken, I promise you’ll never look back.

Objection #5: But I Can’t Afford A Whole Pastured Chicken

While it’s more economical to buy a whole chicken, you still have to have $16-20 in your wallet to buy one. I get that. So start small and save up. Cut out lunch meat for a month, using eggs or cooked chicken meat instead …. and put the savings in an envelope. Stop buying cut chicken products (even boneless thigh meat) and only purchase grocery-store whole chickens. At $1-2/lb, that’s a hard price to beat.That first jump into a new rhythm may have some up-front costs. But once you are in the groove, you’ll be amazed at the long-term savings. 6 objections to buying the whole bird

Objection #6: But I Don’t Even Know Where to Buy A “Good” Chicken

  • Ask around. Put the question out on Facebook.
And don’t forget these helpful questions to ask when you find a farmer.

And Now, Pick Your Baby Step

Phew. There you have it. 6 objections to buying a whole chicken, debunked. But the challenge doesn’t end there. We’re each at a different spot in our life journey.Maybe you’ve never even thought about not buying boneless skinless chicken breast from the grocery store. Maybe you’ve been raising your own meat birds for the last eight years.No matter where we are, there’s always room for another baby step. So here’s 5 options to pick from:
  • Option 1: Buy a whole chicken from the grocery store.
  • Option 2: Buy a whole chicken from a local farmer.
  • Option 3: Buy ONLY whole chicken from a local farmer. Commit to buying no chicken from the store for a month.
  • Option 4: Buy a whole chicken from a local farmer, give it to a friend, and teach them how to use it.
  • Option 5: Buy 22 whole chickens from a local farmer and have a date with your mom to chop up all 22 birds and create freezer meals in one afternoon while your kids watch Netflix until their eyeballs fall out– oh wait, maybe that one is just for me. More on that crazy story … in the next post in this series.
So, where are you on your food journey? What does your baby step look like? Whether you’re a new or a seasoned reader, we want to know! Tell us in the comments below.

6 Objections To Buying the whole bird

The Rest of the Series

  1. How to Cut up a Whole Chicken (Video Tutorial)
  2. Two Fail-Proof Ways to Cook a Whole Chicken
  3. Meal Plan like a Pro with 16+ Whole Chicken Recipes and Tips
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Craftsy from which Kitchen Stewardship® will earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

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29 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Buy A Whole Chicken {Debunking 6 Objections to Buying A Whole Bird}”

  1. There is just me and my daughter in our house hold and I always buy whole chicken, as much as my freezer will hold when available from the farmers. I will be roasting one tonight and it’s a good thing since we are almost out of broth. I use the meat in curries, salad bowls, tacos etc.. through out the week. It really speeds up dinner preparation time. Last night we brought home some red Ranger chicks (meat birds) for our broody hen to raise and she has taken them under her wing. They will go to my mom but I’m slowly trying to get my daughter used to the idea of raising our own and teaching her the importance of voting with our dollars by buying local and pasture raised meat that is raised humanely.

  2. Only when you count your time as having minimal value does the economic equation make sense. Yes, there is pride in making meals from scratch, but I think I’d rather spend time with family and friends talking and enjoying a nice glass of wine etc. than deboning chickens and stretching every last oz of broth.
    (Also the avg. American family size is approx. 2.5 members, so there is typically more waste with larger grocery portions).
    So while it makes sense in some situations to buy the whole chicken, in most cases imho it does not.

    1. Time…and money. If I have to work a couple more hours at my job to earn the money to buy already deboned chicken and mass-market broth – or well-produced broth with the health benefits Bethany’s has, which runs about $5/cup – then I am still out time with my family. It’s never a 2-value equation when it comes to time, money, food AND health…
      🙂 Katie

  3. Did you see Joel Salatin posted your blog post? That’s awesome! (I enjoyed your post already, but seeing as Joel is my farmer hero, I thought it made it even more cool!)

  4. I always try to buy chickens that have been pastured. Just thinking about my purchasing chickens power causing them to live a cruel like squeezed into cages where their feet never touch the ground, just makes the taste gag me. I keep a box of disposable gloves in the kitchen so I don’t touch raw meat. Reading the price breakdown definitely pads my justification for buying from my local farmer.

  5. Jackie @AuburnMeadowFarm

    Wondering about the argument that their family won’t eat anything but the breast?

  6. I can easily get 3 -4 quarts of super gelatinous, delicious broth from one 4-ish pound chicken. I’ve done this consistently for years.

    Chicken salad with lots of celery, onions, homemade mayo, seasonings, and accoutrements of your choice, even boiled eggs, makes a great lunch meal and is a great way to stretch the meat from a whole chicken.

  7. I have been buying whole chickens for years……as a young wife, went to library, found a book on cutting up chickens, taught myself how to cut up a whole chicken since that was the best buy for chicken and I wanted to save every penny possible……thought everyone did this and that I was behind the norm :0).

    With one whole chicken we (5 to 6 servings per meal) make 6 meals:

    two times for a pot of chicken n’ homemade noodles with cabbage, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, couple of potatoes

    matzo ball soup (using saltines for matzo crumbs)

    chicken fried rice with side of steamed broccoli

    mandarin chicken main dish salad with homemade whole wheat rolls

    easy chicken pot pie with side salad

    Leftover broth……yes I agree…….can get 2 gallons…….frozen for other uses. We don’t skim off the bit of chicken fat as it nicely flavors broth.
    We have, when financially able, purchased chickens from a local Amish farmer. We also grew our own one year but my dh didn’t like having to kill his chicken friends.

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Jan – love it! Thanks for sharing your story. I bet there are some young mamas out there who would love to learn from you and your wisdom. 🙂

  8. I love this post and have been buying whole chickens for some time, but I have to disagree on a couple of points. First, a whole chicken feeds my family of 5 for 2 meals as a part of a soup, not 4 meals with leftovers. My son is on the GAPS diet, so we while we stretch our meat as far as we can with veggies, we can’t add rice, beans, pasta, etc to make it go as far as it otherwise could. Just pointing out that that assertion might be an exaggeration for some families. Also, it is difficult to directly compare the cost per pound of whole chickens versus boneless skinless cuts, since the whole bird is not entirely edible. Those bones make for fabulous broth and additional meals, but you can’t make the same meals from a 5 pound chicken as you can from 5 pounds of boneless skinless breasts. Still a huge fan of this post and a huge fan of the whole bird 🙂

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Andrea –

      Excellent point. The example I gave is only how it works out for my family. We were on GAPS for a very long season and you’re right — not having grains means one is likely to go through meat much more quickly! We ate a lot of soup then. BTW – way to rock in the kitchen. GAPS (especially with children) isn’t easy. Way to go, mama!

      And very true that you can’t make the same type/volume of meals with 5 pounds of boneless breasts that you can with 5 pounds of a whole chicken.

      But, then again, I’m also paying $29.45 for 5# of breast vs. $17.50 for a 5# whole chicken. If we’re comparing cost, I can buy two whole chickens for that price.

      Just something fun to think about. 🙂

      1. I am really enjoying this series. I am a fan of buying whole chickens from my local farmer friend but do find the cost a bit much for my budget so this is a timely series. I do think tho that the budget conscious shopper is probably buying boneless chicken breast on sale rather than full price so the price comparison of $30 for #5 of meat is less accurate. I prefer my healthy chicken but it does cost to go that route. I buy it when I can and make do when I can’t.

    2. I can buy a whole chicken from my farmer for $3.50/lb. If I take the breast meat off myself, I can get boneless skinless breast for $3.50/lb. The closest comparable product that my grocery store can offer is TWICE THE PRICE of buying local!

      To harp on the math a little more…a whole chicken is not made of entirely breast, it’s probably about a third of the chicken’s weight and therefore you are actually paying ~$10.00/lb of boneless skinless breast.

  9. Heartfull thanks to Bethany for submitting her article ! I have been a KS fan for years, I cant think of enough thanks for the sharing efforts of Katie KS for us all. I have begun to make bone broth! Cant recall if the whole chicken (2nd time I bought this brand) ?organic or ?cage free or ? No saline injection, and I can tell by the strength of the joints, and bones, after cooking, and before, this chicken had some good in its life. Better taste, texture, quality… twice around.
    Winter here, and I will use the bone broth in cooking as Bethany suggests (thx Bethany).
    Blessings !

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Marsha –

      Thank you for your kind words. Glad to hear you’re making bone broth. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Good for you, Debbie! You’ll have to check back in after a few weeks and let us know how it’s going. 🙂

  10. I love option 5 🙂 Thanks for the tips, and buying local chickens is definitely one of my next steps to take when we expand our grocery budget. Looking forward the the post on dividing the birds!

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      HAHA! Thanks Diana. You know you’ve hit a new level of crazy when… 😉

      Here’s to chickens (and budgets)!

  11. Perfect timing – I was just talking about cost for bone-in/bone-less chicken in a budgeting group this morning!

    Maybe you can shed some light on the particular question. I was at the store this weekend and not sure which was actually cheaper…. the $1/lb chicken thighs (with bones) or the $3/lb-ish boneless chicken breasts or other parts where you’d get more meat at once.

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Molly —

      Great question. We’ll talk about this more tomorrow in the next post in this series. It’s kinda hard to compare apples-to-apples with bone-in thighs and breasts. Not only are the meats completely different (light vs. dark), the size of meat is different.

      A better comparison might be to look a bone-in thighs vs. boneless thighs. You can see that there is quite a mark-up. Any work that you can do yourself will save $$.

      Tune in tomorrow for a video on how to cut up and debone your own whole chicken! That will save you some real money!

  12. I really liked this post and agree with you on all points. I recently found a great you tube video on boning chicken legs and thighs. I like boneless thighs but they can be hard to find and I had the same mind set about spending too much on them and I always have bones in freezer ready to make stock. So i did the video, (sharp knife helps tremendously) and did well. I can see with practice, this will be a no brainer after a bit. I vowed to ONLY buy whole chickens for now, cut up and bone right away, freeze the pieces individually. I like chicken legs MUCH better when boned. I actually bone the whole leg quarter, skin it, pound it out thin like for chicken piccatta, and then freeze. A great elegant way to serve chicken. cooks fast too.
    thanks again for your post!

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Alexandra — I’m so thankful for the internet/youtube to teach us skills we might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn!

      Stay tuned tomorrow and I’ll show a video of how I cut up a whole chicken. 😉

      Love your idea with the leg quarters!

  13. Amy Schmelzer

    I object to your response to Objection #1. I NEVER yield 2 gallons of broth from one chicken. Ever. I made poultry broth (three chicken carcasses, two turkey legs, and some random wing tips and such that I had tossed in a bag in the freezer.) My yield? About 6 quarts which is only 1.5 gallons. This wasn’t even a super gelatinous broth with lots of flavor. This was round one with moderate gel and good flavor mixed with round two with no gel and that weird boney flavor that comes on the second day of cooking.

    My experience is that one chicken carcass will yield 2 quarts of broth not 2 gallons.

    1. I like to save bones in the freezer until I have enough to make stock. I also save onion tops/skins, carrot ends/peels and celery parts and dump them in with the bones. If you put some vinegar in and let it set for an hour or so, it will help draw the goodness from the bones. I found that if I let it boil hard it will evaporate too much, so I try to keep the temp down. I use my big pressure canner and let it go for 24 hours, stirring sometimes. The yield for that was over 3 gallons. I don’t know exactly how many bones I used, but it was at least 2 turkey carcasses and one chicken.

    2. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Amy —

      Hmmm. I’m puzzled by your broth situation. I’ve been making broth from whole birds for the last 7 years and have not had this experience.

      I use a 6-qt slow cooker to cook my chickens (and will boil/cook them). I add 4 quarts of water — so it yields 1 gallon of broth and it definitely solidifies in the fridge.

      Then I dump the bones, skin, and other “gunk” back into the crockpot for a second round — hence, my second gallon of broth. I run this for a longer period of time and include an acid soak. Again, I only add 4 quarts/1 gallon of water.

      It is true that broth needs to cook gently, so a rapid boil will break down your gelatin. I’ve cooked broth for 12 hours and as long as 24. The only time I’ve gotten that “boney flavor” (and I know what you’re talking about) is when I tried to re-use my bones a third time without adding any vegetables.

      Be sure to check out this post from the archives that helps trouble-shoot how to make gelatinous broth. I find the acid soak is particularly important. 🙂

      http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2011/11/15/how-to-make-bone-broth-with-serious-gel-guest-post/

    3. Amy,
      It all depends on how you make it, how big your pot is, how much water you add. I get gallonS out of a whole chicken too because I use the bones three times, nearly every time. http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/01/24/eat-well-spend-less-the-never-ending-chicken-broth-am-i-stocking-up-or-being-greedy/
      🙂 Katie

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