A Case For Cooking Whole Chickens

With empty shelves at the grocery store, I noticed that many of the convenient cuts of chicken were missing, while whole chickens were still available. It may feel, to some people like there is “No food” left when their only option is a whole bird. Or maybe, that cooking a whole chicken is far too inconvenient. Maybe they would rather purchase breaded chicken varieties, which are still available at our stores, than a whole bird.

When my family started raising chickens, I  became alarmingly aware of how spoiled we are to think that we should be able to eat various chicken parts any time we want to. 

Eating Whole Chickens is Better Stewardship of Our Resources

How many times per week, month or year does the average family eat boneless skinless chicken breasts? Does your family eat the other parts of the chicken, or do you prefer one cut?

Most people don’t realize  how many chickens had to be butchered so that they could have that part that they prefer. If one family of four had chicken breasts twice per week for an entire year, 208 chickens would have to be raised, butchered and processed in order for that family to eat 104 meals. 

If there is a trend in chicken consumption and most people lean towards, one cut of meat for a season chicken farmers are left scrambling, needing to find uses for thousands, or possibly millions of other cuts from those birds.

When we lived on the farm and butchered our own chickens, we never had boneless, skinless, conveniently cut chicken. Since we were cutting the birds ourselves, we decided that these cuts of meat were not worth our time or effort. Instead, we cooked whole chickens every week and made large pots of soup, as well. 

We used nearly every part of the chicken, including the feet. A friend who had cancer at the time told me that chicken feet stock soothed her tummy after her chemo treatments more than anything else. The pot of chicken feet broth was ugly to look at, but so nourishing.

Let’s look at the numbers, if a family of 4 was eating whole chickens twice per week. They would end up using 104 chickens in a year’s time. And as a bonus, they would have at least two pots of broth to use for two more meals per week. It would take 104 chickens and, with the broth, the family would get 208 meals out of those chickens. This is not only more economic, but it’s better stewardship of our resources.

We get so used to the conveniences we have that most people don’t connect this kind of information.

Eating Whole Chickens is More Economical

Not only is it better stewardship to use 104 chickens instead of 208, but let’s think about the cost. You know I don’t promote eating “cheap,” factory-farmed meat from big name grocery stores, I believe FARM FRESH is best, but for simple math, let’s go with Walmart pricing:

104 meals of Chicken Breasts at approximately $1.41 per chicken breast, times 4 per meal, equals $587, or, $6.54 per meal. This is a cheap price for chicken breasts. As I am sure you know, they are often quite a bit more expensive, so you are probably spending more than this.

104 meals of Whole Chickens at .97 per pound, with a 5 to 8 pound bird. This is $4.85 to $7.76. You can make at least one pot of broth (we often make two) out of a whole chicken, so the total amount of meals would be 208. A 5 pound bird twice per week for the year would cost $504.40 for 208 meals, or $2.42 per meal. An 8 pound bird twice per week for the year would cost $807.04 for 208 meals, or $3.88 per meal.

Eating Whole Chicken Can Enable You to Eat Farm Fresh Meat

If you’re used to spending the money for chicken breasts, you might as well splurge and spend that money on a good, healthy, farm fresh chicken! Run two pots of broth with your farm-fresh chicken to make sure you use every-bit of goodness

Eating Whole Chicken is Environmentally Friendly

You know I’m not one of those environmental protestors who thinks that everyone ought to be vegan, right? I do love the environment that God created for us. I don’t think cows are ruining the planet. I do believe that factory-run farms are terrible for humans, animals, land, and air.

Here’s the deal: if a family of 4 uses 104 chickens per year instead of 208, we won’t need to raise as many chickens for each family. If everyone switched over to this habit, we would need far less chicken houses, where they raise thousands of chickens in less-than-ideal conditions.

Eating Whole Chickens is Healthier

The broth is really what I want to talk about. When we eat chicken parts without the bones, we miss out on the goodness of homemade broth. Homemade broth is one of the staples of the GAPS Diet, for good reason. Broth has many health benefits!!

  • It contains minerals that are hard to absorb from any other food: magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur, and phosphorus.
  • It contains essential nutrients: collagen, gelatin, chondroitin, glucosamine, proline, glycine and glutamine. Let’s break some of these down:

Gelatin and Glutamine heal the gut.

Glycine helps in the body’s production of its own glutathione, which is needed for the liver’s detoxification process.

Glycine also protects against schizophrenia, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Gelatin, Collagen, Chondroitin and Glucosamine help maintain healthy joints.

Glutathione helps repair damaged tissue.

Collagen keeps skin looking healthy.

And last, chicken broth, as I am sure you have heard, boosts the immune system.

Some Whole Chicken Recipes to Get You Started

I have two recipes that use whole chicken on this blog. Here’s where to get started:

Spicy Whole Chicken

Cinnamon Chicken Sadly, I can’t eat cinnamon anymore. The broth from this chicken is AMAZING and can be used as a hot drink in a mug with a bit of grass fed butter. WOW.

How I Make Broth, Simple!

  • I place the bones from my leftover whole bird in the crockpot.
  • I add some onion, carrot, celery, and a little garlic. I don’t measure these, I just add what we have on hand. I don’t finely chop, I just add a whole carrot, a whole stalk of celery with the leaves (or ripped apart if the whole thing doesn’t fit in the crockpot) and 1/2 or 1/4 chunks of a whole onion.
  • I add a splash of apple cider vinegar to pull the minerals from the bone, salt and pepper.
  • I fill the rest of the crockpot with water, and then run it, on low, all day or overnight (be careful to set up your crockpot in a safe location so it doesn’t catch fire!).
  • When it’s done, I strain the broth and then add more water and veggies and start over.

Do You Eat Whole Chicken? Do You Want to Start?

One Comment

  • Charlie

    Great suggestions for utilizing the entire bird. Always been my go to too!
    Haven’t tried the feet, though the kids won the Oregon Fryer Contest two years is a row, in large part because of their feet!

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