Confession: when it comes to groceries, I am not really a thrifty person.

I do so want to be though.

As a health-conscious person and a vegetarian, I’ve basically spent the past few years trying to find a way to feed our growing (and meat-eating) family really healthy things while at the same time get my grocery bill under control.
Easier said than done, right?

Two kids ago, I used to be a coupon queen, but sadly, my reign didn’t last long.
There just doesn’t seem to be the time for it in this stage I’m in (last week I had to leave Giant Eagle mid-checkout-line because I realized I didn’t have my debit card {or any other form of payment} on me, nor did I even know where it was.  So coupons, right now, and trekking to 3 or 4 stores each week to get my deals?  I don’t think so).  And plus, they don’t normally run coupons for mangoes and blueberries and goat cheese and milk last time I checked.  Annoying.

But I do try my darnest to pay attention and take advantage of in-store sales wherever I’m at each week!  I mean, I’m not totally oblivious.

So a couple weeks ago, Giant Eagle ran their BOGO free sale on whole roaster chickens, which I took full advantage of, and now I’m feeling all economical and junk, and I had to do a post about it.

So this is my “Wow, I feel sorta thrifty!” post.

{Warning: if pictures of raw meats gross you out, you won’t want to read any farther.}

I’ve picked up birds on this sale many other times because my family LOVES this recipe, which I make fairly often: Whole Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon.

Looks good, doesn’t it?  It’s also super easy, and you can make at least 2 meals out of it.

But here’s the thing with those whole birds: sometimes I don’t feel like prepping and roasting a whole chicken for dinner the night I buy it, and I end up plunking the thing in my freezer….where it sits….and sits….and sits…because when it’s 5:30 and 4 little people are whining for dinner, there just isn’t time to thaw out a 10 lb bird and cook it.
And maybe it’s just me, but dinner feels nearly impossible when your only meat is still in humongous frozen icecube-form in the freezer at 5pm.  

So of course, sometimes it’s just nice when your meat is in more manageable pieces for quick thawing, you know, in case you didn’t plan your day out perfectly, or start thawing the night before or whatever.

So when I was picking up my two HUGE roaster chickens, at $6 a piece, with the intention of making a  pot of homemade chicken and noodles with one of them, 
I remembered something someone somewhere sometime told me: ask the butcher to chop your chicken into pieces for you.
Hmmmm….even in grocery stores like giant eagle, and even when the birds are all packaged up already, AND they’re buy one get one free? I wondered.

Why not ask anyway, I figured.
So I did.
And would ya know, they were HAPPY to open those puppies up, chop them into pieces for me AND repackage them?!
I kept looking around, feeling like I was gonna get in trouble or something–like at any second, the meat-manager was gonna tap me on the shoulder and say, “Excuse me ma’am, we’re not actually allowed to open already-packaged whole birds and chop and repackage them for you…that’s why they’re so cheap, you see, because you have to do all that work yourself at home.”  But no meat-manager ever showed up! It was crazy, and as soon as the guy was done I grabbed those two birds and high-tailed it to the checkout line before anyone could stop me.

BOGO chicken chopped and repackaged by the grocery store butcher

Talk about saving me time and energy! (And chicken juices all over my counter!)  It made my day.  

I tell you, I was feeling so very economical and efficient by the time I got home.

So, yup, that’s my Rachel Rayish tip of the day.  Have the folks at the grocery store help you with your dinner prep.

Ok, now for making it into 4 meals (at LEAST–really, with all the leftovers, etc, it’s more like 6-8 meals for our family of 6)….
It’s chicken, so I am sure you could find a bajillion ways to cook it up, but here’s what I did:

Once home, I opened each packaged, now-cut-up bird.
I separated the breasts from the other pieces and saved them for another 2 meals.  
These things were huge! I de-boned two of them, since lots of meals I do call for boneless skinless breasts, but the other two I left the bone in for roasted chicken dinners.  {bone-in means WAAAAY more flavor and moisture in case you didn’t know, which I am 99% sure you did, but just in case you’re new to the chicken-cooking-scene…}.

One of the remaining birds went into the pot for Homemade Noodles and Chicken that very day.

The bone-in breasts went into the freezer for another week, until they became Pioneer-style Chicken and Biscuits…made  almost completely by none other than my sweet 6 year old mommy-in-training…post and recipe coming soon, but here’s a little sneak-peek for ya:

and yes, she did cook the entire thing in full Pioneer garb   =]

We used two boneless skinless breasts for Chicken Salad one night, and I used some of it for a batch of babyfood I did as well.

The remaining pieces?  They’ll become Chicken Tortilla Soup this week, one of our absolute favorite soups around here.

So there it is: meat for (at LEAST) 4 meals for  only $12.

 Above: One whole chicken, at LEAST 2 meals for our family of 6.
Below: Two whole chickens, at LEAST 4 meals.

Take away tip: 
Don’t be afraid to ask your grocery store butcher to chop up a good-priced piece of meat, even if it’s already packaged.  
It can save you a lot of time and energy!
That’s it for now.  See ya soon!

And PLEASE feel free to leave a comment with any thrifty suggestions for busy moms who don’t have a lot of time to coupon and run to several different stores each week.