A Chicken Can Feed Your Family for a Week…Here’s How

We are continuing our $1/lb off sale on chickens this week to demonstrate something that is vital for survival: Yes, a chicken can feed your family for a week.

Here’s how it works: I usually get a 6-7lb chicken for this kind of adventure, but certainly a 5-5.5lb bird will go the distance. Defrost the chicken in your fridge for a few days or in cold water for a few hours.

Dinner one:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove chicken from bag, rinse (I know this isn’t textbook, but I like to) and dry with paper towels. Compost the paper towels. Liberally salt and pepper the bird, inside and out. Cook in roasting pan until brown, about 15 min, then turn down oven to 375 degrees and continue to cook until the deepest part of the breast temps at 165 degrees (or 145 degrees for 8 min, which is superior), without touching the thermometer to the bone. Make LOTS of veggies and sides, including a starch, so that the chicken isn’t consumed all in one evening… We usually have sweet potatoes and braised collards or kale. Do not discard a single bit of pan drippings, which is a near-capital offense in my kitchen… Yes, 4-5 ounces of REAL chicken is satisfying with sufficient vegetables/rice/potatoes. Definitely eat the wings this night — and the meat around the tail if you are into the flavor. (One option to help with portion control is to cut off the leg quarters before you cook the birds and save those for a second night.)

Sometime before the next meal: pick all of the chicken off the bones and put in a separate container. When you have time, take the pan drippings (YouTube: “deglaze a pan”), chicken bones and a bag of chicken feet (the resulting gelatin is THE best for you) into your pressure cooker or stockpot with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a couple of carrots, a couple of pieces of celery and a whole onion peeled and quartered, along with 1 tablespoon of real salt and a big pinch of pepper. Add enough water to cover everything and pressure cook for 45 min or low/slow on the stovetop for 12+ hours (check the water level on the stove! and don’t go past a simmer). Strain stock. Compost the parts. (Yes, you can compost animal bones, just cover them with a lot of leaves, woodchips or sawdust.)

When I’m tired I throw the whole pan of chicken bones and unfinished chicken in the fridge and deal with it the next morning while my tea is brewing… Midweek lesson: cook when you aren’t hungry. I am always working on something in the kitchen, whether I have 5 or 30 min. Cooking is part of life!

Meal two (if you saved the leg Qs raw):

Cut the leg between the thigh and the drumstick and make four pieces. Voila, another meal. This recipe calls for a whole chicken, but the legs will do mighty fine.  

Meal three:

Use some of the breast meat to make roast chicken burgers. Get some of Emily’s challah bread to make buns. Or ask us to sell you a few buns from Chicken Bridge Bakery. Yes, we have rendered bacon fat! Haw River Mushrooms (available for two-day order from our website) could shine here even without chicken. 

Meal four:

You’ve hit the high notes three nights in a row, now it’s time for some comfort food. One-pan easy chicken Alfredo pasta. This dish is easily extended with far less chicken than recipe instructs. 

Meal five:

Time for soup. You splurged last night with cheese and pasta. Now it’s time to nourish yourself. I usually go old-school with mirepoix (chopped and sautéed carrots, celery and onion, in butter), whatever root vegetables or braising greens I have (same preparation) and add fresh or dried rosemary, thyme and herbs de Provence and call it done (the routine of this means I can “staff out” prep to my husband and daughter while I feed the critters). For the more adventurous among you, I offer chicken curry soup

Meal six:

Chicken salad. Mine is classic, light on the mayo, heavier on the dijon and chopped celery, parsley, salt, pepper and a tiny splash of lemon juice, but sometimes just good-quality mayo (we use one with only avocado oil), salt and pepper is what you’ve got… Salad. Sourdough.

Meal seven:

Vivian Howard’s mom’s chicken and rice. Skip the first paragraph of the recipe and all the ingredients except the rice. Just take whatever chicken you have left and the second half of your stock (you’ll need at least a quart and a half, click here if you need extra stock parts) and add the rice and go. (You’ve already cooked the chicken and made the stock.) The real-deal way to make this is with one of our stew hens. It’s change-your-life good. 

There, you’ve now demonstrated that you can renew yourself instead of merely surviving. Cooking is empowering. It’s worth messing up at first. “Eat your losses” was a tangible reality before it was a business term… Just DO IT. There are lots of small details I left out. The web is full of good cooking instruction and it’s near sure-fire in its effectiveness (unlike crackpot Covid protocols…) Ask Emily or Brack when you are in the farm store. They are both superb cooks, and happy to help your introductory culinary adventures. Much has been written on this subject of stretching a chicken for a week…

p.s. if you liked the photo above, you can purchase it from the artist here p.p.s. I’d love a print for my office (kidding, mostly…)

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