thanks for asking about chicken, bekah! and you're right - chicken does qualify as healthy. it's low fat and a great source of lean protein, which definitely makes it skinny bovine-worthy. but how do you know if you're buying the cheapest chicken or if you're getting ripped off in your health crusade? here are a few helpful hints to make your chicken cheaper that i've gathered from experience and from friends/family:
- skip the freezer section. it's almost always cheapest to buy fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast (or tenders) and freeze it yourself. sandwich baggies work great. i'd suggest freezing 1-2 breasts in each bag, depending on how much you normally use at a time.
- watch for sales, then buy in bulk. last september i bought a 40 lb box of fresh, boneless skinless chicken breast... for only $1.19/lb!!!!! this is the type of food investment that is too cheap to pass up. i use chicken in probably half of my week's dinners and that box lasted me 7 months. (if you're thinking "my freezer will never fit 40 lbs of chicken!", it will. my tiny freezer fit 40 lbs of chicken and all of the other things i normally have in it.)
- how cheap is cheap? if you're a utah local, you should never have to buy chicken for more than $2.00/lb. and if you watch sales close enough you should be able to get it for something more like $1.69-$1.89/lb (and cheaper on occasion). all of the normal chain stores like Smiths, Albertons, etc. should run sales on chicken and local non-chain stores (like Macey's in utah) may as well. if you're not in utah, start watching your local sales closely for the cheapest price. often different grocers will run sales close to the same time to compete with each other, so if you spot a sale at one store, check the ads in your newspaper or mail to see if another store is cheaper.
- buy whole chickens instead of chicken breasts. it is often cheaper and you can bake or boil the whole chicken and then freeze what you don't use to be used in later recipes.
- create a support network. talk with other local women (family, friends, neighbors who will become friends) who are dedicated to deal-finding and call each other when you become aware of a sale. this is also useful in the case of a 40 lb box of chicken for $1.19/lb as mentioned above. split it with a friend and you both get 20 lb. my network includes my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, but if you want to join my network i'd be happy to have you!
- stretch your chicken to the limits. since meat is the pricey ingredient in many meals, rather than grilling a chicken breasts for everyone eating dinner, use recipes that use a little bit of chicken to feed a lot of people. some ideas are pasta with chicken in it, pieces of chicken cooked with veggies to serve over rice, chicken salads, chicken and veggies in some sort of sauce or broth (like a curry or a soup), etc. see this week's recipe of the week for a recipe that makes chicken go a long way. another idea to make a little bit of chicken go a long way is to cut it lengthwise, making 2 chicken breasts out of 1.
thanks to dvdtown.com for the picture