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Frugal Chicken

Frugal Chicken

How to Make 17 Nutritious Meals from One Chicken


It has taken me a while to learn how not to cook for nine people all the time, since all our children are grown now and my husband and I are by ourselves once more.  I still tend to cook more than what is needed though, but luckily, we don’t mind leftovers.  The recipes below are for two people, so if your family is larger, you may have to adjust.  We raise our own chickens and usually fatten them up to about 8-9 pounds when dressed, so if you are buying your chicken at the supermarket, try to get a large roaster about that size.


Meal #1:  Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, butternut squash (optional stuffing):

This one is easy.  Simply wash the bird and rub the cavity with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Rub 2 pats of butter on top the bird and place the bird in a roasting pan with a drip pan, so that as the juices that come off the bird, they will collect in the pan below.  I tent my chickens and turkeys with a paper bag instead of a cover, so they get some protection from drying out, yet they still get a nice crispy skin, and that’s easy to make.  Just take a paper grocery bag, cut down one side and then all around the bottom of the bag, removing the bottom.  You then have a long piece of brown paper which you can tuck between the drip tray and pan on one side of the bird, loosely cover the bird and tuck it in on the other side again between the drip tray and the bottom pan.   Roast in oven at 325 degrees or about 2-3 hours.  I do not stuff the bird for this particular recipe, though you could, but if you do so, you will have to adjust the roasting times.  If you do stuff the bird, just add your favorite stuffing and add another hour to the roasting time.  When done, remove the bird from oven and let set for about 15 minutes before carving.  (If you have stuffed the bird, take out the stuffing and keep warm until ready to eat.)


Since my husband likes dark meat and I like white, it works out well.  He gets one of the legs and I get part of one of the breasts.  Add some mashed potatoes and some butternut squash and Viola!  Meal #1!


Refrigerate the bird, and pour the drippings into a small glass jar, usually a ½ pint jar, and refrigerate.


Meal #2: Roast Chicken, brown rice, sautéed green beans with garlic (and optional stuffing)

second day…..even easier…..Bill gets the second leg and I get part of the second breast, add some brown rice and sauté some green beans with olive oil and garlic, and Voila!  Meal #2!


Meal #3:   Individual Chicken Shepherd’s Pies: Now you will have to work a bit.  As best you can, start cutting any leftover meat from the bird and put in a small bowl.  When you think you have most you can easily cut off, refrigerate the bird again and measure the meat.  For Meal # 3, you will need about 1 ½ cups of meat; for Meal #4, another 1 cup to 1 ½ cups.  Set aside the meat for Meal #3; refrigerate meat for Meal #4.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the dripping from small jar in small skillet and add 2 tablespoons of flour.  Stir as drippings melt.  Slowly add one cup of milk, some salt and pepper to taste and about ¼ teaspoon of sage.  Stir until slightly thickened and then add 1 ½ cups chicken.  Cook another minute.  Separate meat and gravy into two oven proof individual dishes.  Top with ¾ cup of whole kernel corn for each serving.  Top corn with mashed potatoes and seal edges.  Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with biscuits.  Viola!  Meal #3!


Meal #4:   Autumn Crunch Chicken Salad: You should still have another cup to 1 ½ cups of chicken left.  Make two salads.  For each salad, on a bed of greens, add ½ tomato apiece, chopped, ½ cup dried cranberries, ½ cup crushed walnuts, ¼ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup sliced black olives, crumbled gorgonzola cheese to taste, and top with ¾ cup of chicken.  Dress with cranberry vinaigrette dressing.  Serve with crusty artisan bread. 


Meal #5:   Chunky Chicken Stew and many more options: (a two day process) This one will require a bit more work and the proportions may seem huge, but trust me, you are preparing the base for 13 more meals with this one, and they will be super easy when this base is done.  Into a large pot, put the whole chicken, bones and all, and cover with water, purified if possible (I keep a water filter on my kitchen faucet, so that just mean turn it on for soups and coffees and teas, etc.)  Add two large carrots, peeled and cut in large pieces, 2-3 stalks of celery with the tops, washed and cut into large pieces, 2-3 springs of fresh sage if you have it, and one large yellow onion.  For the onion, cut off both ends, wash, and quarter, but do not peel.  The yellow peels give a nice, rich, golden color to the broth we are making.  Add 2 tablespoons of a good sea salt and cook for about 2-3 hours.  Your kitchen will smell wonderful.  If the chicken sticks out of the water, because of the pan size, about half way through, turn the bird over with two large spoons or tongs, so that then entire bird gets re-cooked under water.  At the end of the cooking time, with those two large spoons or tongs, remove the bird and put on a platter to cool.  It may fall apart, so use a slotted spoon to make sure you get all the bones and meat that has fallen off the bones.  When a bit cooler, pour the broth through a colander, getting the rich golden broth in one pan and the veggies in the colander.  Refrigerate the broth when cool.  You may either discard the veggies since they will really be overcooked, or make sure there are no bones in them and can give them to your dogs on top of their dog food that evening.  They will really think it a treat.  After the bones have cooled, with your fingers, pull off all the extra meat that has now loosened or is actually falling off the bones.  You should get another cup and a half or so.  Refrigerate.  I usually stop at this point, and do the second step the following day.  It takes some time, but this is a great weekend task.  Your kitchen smells wonderful the whole weekend and come Sunday night, you have a great chicken stew and 12 more meals that will become a base for different meals to freeze.


Day Two: this part is an adaptation of a hearty vegetable soup I came across in Good Housekeeping about five years ago.  I've tweaked it a bit and added more of my own varieties.  It is so versatile; I make it a few times a year. 



3 T. olive oil       

3 T. chicken fat and drippings       

1 pound carrots       

3 medium onions       

4 large stalks celery       

6 large cloves of garlic       

1 small head of green cabbage       

¾ pound green beans       

3 medium zucchini       

2 quarts canned tomatoes       

12 cups chicken broth, or chicken broth and enough water to make 12 cups       

2 bags of baby spinach leaves (about 5-8 ounces apiece)


In a very large kettle (or two if you don’t have a very large one), melt olive oil and the chicken drippings and fat that was saved.  To that, add the carrots, cleaned and sliced into rounds; the onions, peeled and diced, the celery, washed and diced, and the garlic, chopped.  Sauté the vegetables for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Measure all the chicken broth and enough water to make 12 cups.  While the vegetables are sautéing, cut cabbage into strips, wash and cut green beans into pieces, cut zucchini into circles and then half moons, and set aside.  To the sautéed vegetables, add the two quarts of tomatoes and chop up the larger pieces a bit and stir.  Add the cabbage and the string beans and stir.  Add the chicken broth and stir.  If you have added a lot of water, add another tablespoon of good sea salt.  Add ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper and bring to boiling.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.  Add zucchini and spinach and bring to boil once more.  Reduce to low once more for 10 more minutes.  


You’re just about done at this point with one meal and it’s time to package the rest.  Ladle 2 cups soup into 12 plastic containers, label, seal and freeze for future use.  To the remaining 2 cups, add the last of the chicken, and you have two servings of chicken stew!  Voila! Meal #5!  


Frugal Chicken.two


To the others when I want to use them, they can become a number of variations, by adding just a twist.  First, for all the following recipes, thaw one container at a time and create:


Meal #6: Minestrone: add ½ cup rinsed cannellini beans and heat to boiling.  Add ½ cup whole wheat rotini (cooked as label directed) with 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese and 1 T. chopped basil.  Serve with additional sprinkled cheese and toast.


Meal #7: Mexican Chicken Soup: add one skinless chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces, ½ cup whole kernel corn and ¼ teaspoon cumin.  Heat to boiling.  Simmer three minutes until chicken is done.  Add 1 T. chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedge and tortilla chips.


Meal #8: Greek Fish Stew:  Dice one red potato, and cook with a little water in a small kettle for about 5 minutes.   Add to soup mix along with ¼ pound of white fish (cod, haddock, perch, catfish, etc.) cut into one inch pieces.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce and simmer 3 minutes until fish looks done and flakes.  Add 1T. chopped fresh dill and sprinkle with feta cheese before serving.


Meal #8: Southwest Chili:  In non-stick pan sauté ¼ pound ground turkey breast in 2 T. olive oil.  Add to soup base along with ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon cumin, ½ cup rinsed black beans and ¼ cup salsa.  Bring to boiling.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Top with shredded cheddar.   


Meal # 9: Thai Shrimp Soup:  in a small bowl, cover 1 ounce of rice noodles with hot water.  Let stand 10 minutes and drain.  Heat the soup base to boiling and add 4 ounces of deveined medium shrimp, 12 halved snow peas, a pinch of red pepper and the noodles.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 minutes until shrimp cook through.  Remove from heat.  Can eat as is, or can stir in ½ cup coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lime juice and lime slices.


Meal #10: Hungarian Goulash:  In non-stick pan, sauté ¼ pound lean ground beef in 2 T. olive oil.  Add ½ teaspoon paprika, pinch of caraway seeds and pinch of salt.  Stir in soup base and bring to boiling.  Cover and simmer to blend flavors.  Cook ½ cup egg noodles as label directs.  Add to soup mix and heat through.  Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 T. sour cream and serve.


Meal #11:  Red Beans and Rice Stew: Sauté 2 ounces of kielbasa, cut into ½ inch pieces with one sliced green onion (white part only; reserve green tops for garnish).  Add 2 cups soup base, ½ cup rinsed canned red kidney beans, ½ cup cooked brown rice and 1/8 teaspoon Cajun seasoning.  Sprinkle with green onion tops and serve with hot sauce.


Meal #12:  Scallops and Mushrooms: Sauté ¼ pound bay scallops and ¼ pound sliced mushrooms in 2 Tablespoons of butter.  Add to soup base and heat through to blend flavors.  Serve.


Meal #13: Chevron Stew: Sauté ¼ pound chevron stew meat in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook one diced potato in one cup goat’s milk.  Do not boil.   Add ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper to milk/potato mixture.  Mix meat and milk/potato mixture to soup base.  Cook 5 minutes more to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. Serve.


Meal #14: Italian Sausage Stew: Sauté ¼ pound of your favorite Italian sausage in olive oil, cut in rounds (or if bulk sausage meat, simply brown the meat) along with ½ chopped green pepper.  Cook ½ cup elbow macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  Mix sausage, macaroni and soup base together and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve.


Meal #15: Mediterranean Lamb Stew: Sauté ¼ pound lamb stew meat in olive oil with 2 cloves minced garlic and ¼ teaspoon thyme.  Cook ¼ cup barley according to package directions.  Mix meat, barley and soup base together and simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors.  Add ½ cup red wine and simmer 5 minutes more.  Serve.


Meal # 16: Clams Chowder, Manhattan style:  You can use either frozen clams or canned clams for this dish.  Dice one large or two small Roma tomatoes.  Add to soup base and heat to boiling.  Add 1 cup diced clams, either canned or frozen, to soup base.  Bring to boil again and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve.


Meal #17: French Meat Stew:  Sauté ¼ pound ground pork with 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.  Cook one white potato in small amount of salted water.  Drain and add meat and potato to soup base.  Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes.  Serve with croissants.  

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