I used to be a “chicken breast only” kinda girl. It was the only part of the chicken I ever ate growing up. Even when it came to rotisserie chicken – we would eat the breast and dump the rest. Now that we are farmers, this has changed.
I’ve learned to be more frugle, so “dumping” anything just doesn’t fly in our house. I can’t stand to see the waste. And as I once thought to be unfortunate, you can’t grow chicken breasts on their own… they come with the rest of the bird!
We have been raising meat birds for about 5 years now. Not anything on a large scale, but a handful of birds here and there. After various losses and a select few that we let go to customers, I think we ended up with only 6-8 birds this year, which is a huge bummer in more ways than one. Mainly being that I can now say that I prefer the whole bird for a number of reasons, and I’m stuck with chicken breasts bought from the store!
Why the whole chicken?
- Stock – this was probably the main incentive that pushed me towards working with the whole bird vs just cutting it up raw. I love having our own stock on hand that I know was made with no additives, from birds that were raised organically, on pasture, and humanely. The health benefits are amazing and it makes for such a quick and easy snack when you have some simmering in the crock pot.
- Many meals in one – I can make 2 whole chickens and stretch that into 4 meals for our family of 7. Read about it here: 4 Meals Out of 2 Whole Chickens. I’m not saying that hubby doesn’t complain about wanting more protein, so maybe I’ll have to start throwing a third in there for him to eat on his own.
- Sustainability – Just think about it, if you are only eating chicken breasts, imagine how many legs, thighs, wings, backs, etc. are being produced as a byproduct. As we started growing and raising our own food, the realization set in just how “on edge” our current industrial food system is. If you wish to shift your eating habits towards the local food movement, eating just specific parts of an animal is generally not sustainable.
- Economics – it is cheaper to buy a whole bird than it is to buy just part of it. Your dollar per pound value goes up, but you also receive more of the bird to work with. If you just purchased chicken breasts, lets say 2 breasts that weight between 1.3 to 1.5 pounds – that would run you $9.79. Bump that up to a whole chicken and with a weight between 3 to 3.25 pounds, your cost only increases to $11.29. That is $1.5 that you are paying for the rest of the bird!*
- Variety – there are so many things you can do with a whole chicken. Roast it in the oven with some hearty root veggies, cook in the crock pot “upside down” for deliciously moist, perfect chicken every time, throw it on the grill rotisserie style, or cut it up raw and use each part for a different meal. The options are endless…
If you are someone who is a “chicken breast only” kind of person, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try out a whole chicken.
If you are experienced in whole chicken cooking – please share your ideas!
*Pricing was taken from Door to Door Organics pricing on “natural” chicken. The overall price on this chicken is low because although it is produced locally, it is produced on a large scale and not organic and/or pasture raised.