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DIVAS ON A DIME: Why whole chickens are the holy grail of cheap eats

On the quest for the ultimate in cheap eats, I go absolutely nuts over whole chickens because they’re inexpensive, about a dollar a pound, and each one can streeeaaaatch into several meals. Of course, this depends on the number of people you’re feeding and the size of their appetites.

We begin by roasting one whole chicken (or double the recipe for two) with potatoes, carrots and onion. The first meal is sliced chicken served with roast veggies.

Next, pick every last morsel of meat off the bones, saving the bones. Reserve two cups of chicken to make chicken soup later, then use the rest to make a “round two” meal.

If you’re craving comfort food lately (and who isn’t?) I suggest chicken pot pies using leftover veggies and refrigerated pie crust. Alternatively, make chicken and rice casserole or chicken fettuccini alfredo, chicken salad, chicken tacos, burritos or BBQ chicken pizza. You get the idea.

ROAST CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

What You’ll Need:

6 medium potatoes – cut into 2-inch pieces

1 large onion – rough chop

6 large carrots – cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 whole (4 to 5 pounds) chicken

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter – melted

1 head garlic – optional

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Chop the vegetables, toss with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken and reserve for another use, if desired. Season the chicken inside with salt. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together and brush the skin with melted butter. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken. In a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the chicken and the veggies, arrange the potatoes, carrots and onion, and place the chicken on top.

Separate the garlic into cloves and scatter amongst the veggies. Place the pan, uncovered, in the oven and bake for 90 minutes, or until the temperature registers 175°F in the thigh. Remove the chicken, tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with love.

And …drumroll please…. let’s make chicken broth with the bones! The wonderful thing about chicken broth is that is can be made from things you’d normally throw away. You can store chicken bones in the freezer until ready to use. I even save the ends of veggies (carrots, celery, onions, garlic, herb stems) in the freezer. Talk about frugal and fabulous!

To Make Chicken Broth – In a stock pot or crockpot; add bones from one or more chickens, 1 cup each celery and carrots – roughly chopped, 3 cloves of garlic-smashed, 1 onion – quartered with skin, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover with water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer, the better! Strain through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the broth. Season to taste. Refrigerate up to a week or freeze for 3 months.

To Make Chicken Noodle Soup – In a large stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté one cup each; onion, carrot, celery – sliced thin, for about 5 minutes. Add 3 cloves garlic – minced. Add 8 cups chicken broth, ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 5 minutes or until, veggies are tender. Add 12 ounces egg noodles, simmer for 10 more minutes. Add 2 cups cooked shredded chicken, heat through and salt to taste. Serves 4.

In these unprecedented times, we’re all stretching the budget while spreading the love. We got this!

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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