Four can eat for five days on less than $15 in rotisserie chicken.

Most department stores and delis have them, those lovely smelling roast chickens that you can barely resist as you walk by.

The trick is, DON’T RESIST!

As a matter of fact, buy two. They'll cost less than $15 in most places.

Planning

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It’s important to shop for the chickens on the way home on ‘Day One’ and to make sure ‘Day Three’ falls on a day where you will have the time available to prepare and supervise the preparation and cooking.

Keep in mind that these meals do  not have to be in order. At any time, the ingredients can be placed in the freezer foruse later. Just be sure the ‘Day One’ work is done so the quantity required can be retrieved.

Day One

  • Carve both chickens, and make sure to remove as much meat as possible from the bones.
  • Set one in the refrigerator to chill.
  • Place the bones back into the plastic container and toss into the freezer.
  • Once cooled, cut up the chicken from the fridge into bite-sized chunks, divide into two packages, and place in the freezer.
  • Serve the first carved chicken fresh and hot with a side salad and/or side dish.
  • (You should now have two chicken carcasses and two containers of chicken pieces in your freezer.)

Day Two

  • Use the leftovers from the first carved chicken cut up cold, added to a large meal size salad, or mixed into chicken salad for sandwiches, soup and/or salad or other side dish.

Day Three

  • Remove the containers of chicken bones from the freezer to make chicken broth.
  • Set out a soup pot. Run a bit of hot water into the plastic container bottoms to loosen the bones. Place the bones into the pot. Run a bit more hot water into the bottoms of the containers at a time, swirling to dissolve any remaining chicken and juices, etc. Pour over the chicken bones in the pot and repeat until nothing remains in the containers. Once the chicken bones are in the pot, top up the water so the bones are just covered.
  • Simmer over medium heat until bubbling, then reduce to level 2-3 to lightly simmer for an hour or two. The longer it simmers, the more intense the flavor will be.
  • Once done, turn off the burner and let it sit until cool enough to handle comfortably. Using a small collander with a handle that will fit, or a large collander ladle  or spoon, remove all particles and bones and set aside in a separate bowl, leaving just the broth in the pot.
  • If you prefer to remove the fat before using the broth, place it in the refrigerator until the fat is congealed on the surface and skim off.
  • Divide the chicken broth into two freezer containers. Place one in the refrigerator to cool.
  • In the meantime, as soon as the bones are cool enough to handle, remove as much chicken meat as possible (not skin or bone) and place the meat with the broth from the second container in a soup pot.
  • Simmer on low to medium heat, adding freshly chopped or high quality frozen vegetables, and spices to taste.  You can also choose to add either barley, rice or pasta as well.
  • Freeze any leftover soup for lunches or fast individual meals.

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Day Four

  • Remove a package of chicken pieces from the freezer to defrost.
  • Use your own chicken pot pie recipe with the chicken pieces or opt for my favorite. I mix the chicken pieces, some vegetables, seasoning, and place in the bottom of a deep baking dish. Prepare Bisquick mix for 4-6 servings and spread evenly or drop by large spoonful over the filling.
  • Serve with any side dish.
  • As suggested above, freeze any leftovers.
  • Remove the remaining broth and chicken pieces to defrost overnight.

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Day Five

  • Set up your slow cooker and pour in the broth.
  • Thicken the broth by whisking in flour, corn starch or gravy thickener such as Bisto in the amount required for the quantity of broth.
  • Add the chicken pieces.
  • Chop into large bite-sized pieces: potatoes, onions, and fresh vegetables (or add good quality frozen vegetables) and add seasonings to taste.
  • Mix to coat and blend.
  • Cook in the slow cooker on low for the required length of time (see your cooker’s manual).
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, this can also be done in a covered dutch oven in your stove’s oven.
  • Again, freeze leftovers (if any) in individual containers.

I hope you enjoy the results of your planning, labors, and thrift as much as we do. This is a frequent routine in our home.

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