When is a Chicken More Than a Chicken?

Answer: when it’s 3 different meals!

I think a lot of us get stuck in the rut of buying the same old cuts of meat all the time and getting a little bored trying to figure out new and exciting ways to prepare the same old stuff. I almost always buy just plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts (only when on sale of course) with the occasional dabbling into leg quarters if I really want something with crispy skin. In my area, boneless, skinless chicken breast rarely goes on sale for less than 1.99/lb, and sometimes a) I just don’t want to pay that much for meat and b) I really crave chicken soup and just plain old chicken breast isn’t the best option for a really good chicken soup.

A whole raw chicken with a bad joke for a caption.
Buy me when I am CHEEP. (Hardy har!)

So recently my grocery store had whole chickens on sale for 99c/lb. While that’s not the cheapest I’ve seen them, it’s still pretty cheap (although in all honesty they did not HAVE any of the advertised 99c/lb. chickens when I went shopping and I wound up paying $1.78/lb. which I didn’t realize until it got rang up and I was too lazy to argue).

I knew I didn’t have to just eat roast chicken all week if I played my cards right, and I could make that chicken last more than a week if I wanted to!

So last Sunday I bought the chicken and seasoned it only with salt and pepper. I roasted it whole at 425, breast side down to start, then flipped her over halfway through the cooking process. The breast was juicy and perfect and the thighs were cooked through (your cook times may vary depending on the size of your chicken so I’m leaving the times out). The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat succulent so this method was a good one for me and I will definitely use it again.

A whole roast chicken behind a plate with a roast chicken thigh, garden salad with ranch dressing, and roast potatoes.

I started off by eating the thighs and legs, simply accompanied by roasted potatoes and a garden salad with ranch dressing. Comfort food at its finest. That was enough for 4 meals for me.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps with Carrots and Celery Sticks

Once the carcass was cooled, I carved off the breast meat. Part of the breast meat I used for a couple of lunches. I warmed some of the meat, sliced, then enrobed it (yes, ENROBED) in more ranch dressing with some Frank’s Red Hot mixed in, then folded it up in a Mission Carb Balance tortilla (I bought this brand specifically because they’re burrito sized but only 110 calories and have 8 grams of protein per tortilla, but they are NOT a frugal choice, considering a package of 8 was almost $5, ugh) and served alongside carrots and celery sticks for buffalo chicken wraps. I had two of these for lunches during the week.

Chicken and couscous soup with harissa, cilantro, lemon and egg.
I’d like to eat this forever, if I’m honest.

Lastly (and this is the dish I am most proud of), I used the leftover breast and the meat picked from the bone, plus a chicken stock I made from the bones and skin in my Instant Pot, to make a delicious Tunisian-inspired chicken and couscous soup flavored with harissa, cumin, lemon, and cilantro, and topped with a soft boiled egg. It was truly divine. I won’t be sharing the recipe here because I plan on adding it to my cookbook, but I hope you get the idea of how to use one chicken for 3 different meals. I’m one person and I got 4 servings of roast chicken, 2 servings of buffalo chicken wraps, and 5 servings of that harissa chicken soup. That’s 11 meals out of one chicken, and I didn’t just have to eat roast chicken the whole time!

So I hope you are inspired to try your own One Chicken Three Meals Challenge (okay, there’s no official challenge, I just made the damn thing up). Let me know what dishes you’d make in the comments!

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