Friday, August 9, 2013

It's all about Helen...

They called her Helen and they roasted her for dinner. And she was delicious!

My in-laws raised 40 "helens" this year. Meat chickens - you get them for 6 weeks, and they enjoy a lovely gluttonous life until they get sent to chicken heaven. Rather amazingly, they raised their Helens for about $2.87/lb.

I used to be so mortified to go to the farmers market and see the organic chickens there on sale for $20. "What a waste!" I thought. Instead I'd turn to Costco's giant box of arsenic-fed chicken breasts. But as it turns out, eating WHOLE chickens is extremely economical! The chickens we've been eating have, on average, cost about $20 each, just like the farmer's market ones. I start by roasting each chicken for the MOST AMAZING roasted chickens I have ever tasted before. (If it sounds like I'm boasting, it's because I am. :) I have discovered untapped roasting skills, perhaps buried in my Mennonite genetic heritage. We even fight over the crunchy skin from the top. I drool just to think of it.) So that's one meal. Then I cut off the remaining meat, usually getting about 8 cups of chicken, which I divide into 4 freezer bags to be used in casseroles, for wraps, in salads, etc. The carcass gets chucked in the slow cooker and we boil it for a day or two until we're ready for some sort of soup. So out of a regular-sized chicken, we get at least 5 meals (we often have leftovers of casseroles for lunch, so maybe we can idealistically say 8 meals). Out of this last Helen, we got an extra meal because my husband used some for soup before I bagged it, and there was still enough for almost 4 full bags!

Now, I realize that we're talking about 2 adults and 2 small children, so it's not like we're a family of 12. But I'd say that $4/meal for organic chicken is actually much better than you thought it would be! And don't forget the leftovers when you make casseroles - if you count that, we could be closer to $3 a meal!

I have to admit, sometimes I miss cooking different things with large pieces of raw chicken like I used to, but I've just become accustomed to a different way of viewing my food. A way that allows us to be economical and organic! It's also simple and delicious. My littlest man LOVES roast chicken day. Normally we have to fight to get him to eat meat, but hot roasted chicken slides down his gullet like candy. That's what I call a win!

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