5 Frugal Chicken Dishes You Can Make Out of One Chicken

by Allison W. on 2010-09-025

In sunny California and during barbecue season, we do a lot of grilling of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, tomatoes and buns.

But let’s depart from tradition for a moment: I thought it would be a good idea to find out how many meals we could squeeze out of one of those staples. When you want to be frugal, it helps to be somewhat creative. So how far can a chicken go? I was amazed by the answer to that question. Do you realize just how many meals you can get out of one bird? I used to get the smallest chicken I could for a roast dinner. But now I go for a larger one and get plenty more from it as a result.

5 Great Chicken Dishes You Can Make Out of One Chicken

Here are my five tips for meals you can get from a single chicken:

1. Roast dinner. Roast the bird to begin with and serve sliced breast meat with potatoes and steamed vegetables. I usually find I don’t need too much meat because of the range of other things I have with it.

2. Strip the bird and reserve the wings. With one drumstick added –- the end section of the leg as opposed to the whole thing –- this makes a nice meal eaten cold with salad the next day. New potatoes are great with this too: I either have them warm or cook them in advance and serve them cold, chopped up with some sliced spring onions and a dash of mayo.

roast chicken
Image from BBC Good Food

3. Chop up some of the chicken meat and throw it into a stew. I bulk it up with plenty of vegetables; try grabbing whatever you can find that is in season. I also sometimes add potatoes to make a one pot meal, or even make my own dumplings with suet mix. The point is that there are plenty of different things you can do here.

4. Make a chicken pie. Once again, I take some of the leftover chicken meat (you can strip the legs as well) and mix it in with some mushrooms. Sage and onion stuffing works well too. I then add gravy and put a top on the pie –- I usually do just a pastry top so it keeps down the amount of pastry I am eating. There are lots of ways I vary what is in the pie, so it’s never the same twice!

5. Finally, the piece de resistance…. Chicken soup. And again, I have never turned out the same soup twice. When I strip all the meat off the carcass of the chicken, I throw the bones in a saucepan and cover them with water to boil and then simmer. Around an hour should suffice for this, although I have found a bit longer does it no harm at all. Seasonal vegetables are the best things to throw in with it, and I would encourage you to try different things to see what you like the best when you do this. If I have some actual chicken left over I shred some of that to put in as well, but it isn’t necessary. The great thing is that you can freeze it as well.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve got another tip for you as well. When I roast my chicken initially, I make sure I drain off all the fat from the roasting tray into a glass jug. I leave it to sit until the fat separates. I get rid of the fat and keep the rest of the juices to use as stock. I have tried freezing this in ice cube trays so I get separate home made stock cubes.

So you see, there is a lot you can do with a chicken to save money and get more meals out of it than you might think.

Copyright © 2010 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Williams September 3, 2010 at 9:34 am

A whole chicken is an extremely frugal option. Unless the parts are really on sale, you’ll be better off getting the whole thing and freezing whatever you don’t want. And roast chicken is an easy meal to feed a family, too!

Regarding the pricing (whole vs. parts), my More with Less cookbook says that when a whole fryer costs $0.45/lb then chicken parts are an equally good deal if breasts are $0.63/lb, drumsticks and thighs $0.58/lb, and wings $0.36/lb. This was based on USDA information (and it’s obviously old given the prices). Do a little math, figure out percentages, and you can adjust for any whole fryer price. I smell a post coming on! 😉

ConsumerMiser September 5, 2010 at 12:48 am


Chicken is one of the healthier meats (as opposed to Beef or Pork) that you can eat a lot of and not risk a lot of health problems. Of course, that assumes you are not frying the chicken!

Nice chicken meal ideas. This is what I call stretching a budget. Also, using the same chicken simplifies the preparation time as well as money.

@ Paul Williams. I agree. I smell a post brewing too!

JMK September 6, 2010 at 7:56 am

We roast a chicken almost every week (or if parts are on a great sale cook an equivalent amount all at once). The idea is to get the initial roast chicken dinner plus two more for our family of 4 – so 12 servings. Soup or at least broth for future always comes after that. The roast dinner happens every week, but the two meals based on the leftovers vary. The usuals include enchiladas, tetrazini, pot pies, casseroles, shredded chicken and BBQ sauce on buns, etc. We always try to pick meals which have no resembance to the straight roast chicken dinner.

It’s a rare night at our house when at least one component of the meal isn’t an intentional leftover created at a prior meal. We cook extra potatoes for use as soup, potato cakes, and topping on sheppards pie. Extra pasta becomes a casserole, or a side dish by adding butter and parmesean, and small noodles can be tossed into the soup pot. Last night we cooked two large steaks, one to eat (split 4 ways with 3 side veggies), the other will become beef fajitas tomorrow night. In addition to being a frugal way to cook, you save on time and electricity doing large batches of an item all at once. If you plan to have 3 chicken meals a week, why purposely plan to cook chicken three separate times?

Seth February 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I eat chicken a lot. When I tried free range chicken everything changed for me. It tastes much better. But it’s getting quite expensive.

janet April 6, 2012 at 9:50 am

The above meals are the perfect progression for a chicken. I take it a couple of steps further: I cook the bones, fat… in a crock pot (with a dash of vinegar) for 6-8 hrs to render a very thick, flavorful stock.

After straining the liquid, I refill the crock pot with water, the bones and I cook that another 6-8 hrs. This results in a lighter broth that is perfect for rice or any other purpose. After this second round in the crock pot, the bones are VERY soft and crumbly. I take everything in the crock pot ( No onion) and blend that up with a little water to create a healthy, safe, tasty treat for my dogs.

Once all the stock has been cooled, I skim off the fat and store it for use in stir frys. The only thing I throw away when using a whole chicken is the wrapper it came in.

Leave a Comment