If you’re like me, letting extra groceries (and money!) go to waste should be avoided at all costs. If you’re also like me, produce from the local Farmer’s Market is a must. All too often, these two statements seem mutually exclusive. But, they don’t have to be!
Last week, I took a whole chicken from roast to soup. It’s a great way to use most of the bird and translates to some seriously inexpensive yet healthy meals…and lots of them. There’s plenty of room for creativity and while it may be a little more effort up front than you’re used, it’s well worth it because you have meals for several days.
Here’s what my grocery list looked like and what I spent. It’s a little rough to estimate the cost of each produce item because I’ve got a few favorite farmers and buy most of my stuff from 2-3 spots at the Farmer’s Market.
Farmer’s Market Finds for $17.00 total (all organic):
- 3 large yellow onions
- 1 pound parsnips
- 1.5 pounds carrots
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 leek
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale
- 4 lemons
- 1 garlic bulb
- Bag of mixed baby green lettuce
- 4lb free range chicken: $9.00
- Organic cannellini beans: $.89
- 1 head of organic celery: $1.99*
* Celery is one of those things you should buy organic. It’s on the Dirty Dozen list for containing one of the highest amounts of pesticides and herbicides.
I followed Martha Stewart’s tips for roasting a chicken (largely because the recipe came with my roasting pan, but she knows her birds). Martha suggests pouring stock at the bottom, but I didn’t have any so I just used water and threw some celery stalks in the pan as well.
Ingredients used: 1 lemon, 4 garlic cloves, 3 celery stalks, 1 onion
While the chicken was roasting, I sliced several carrots, the fennel, parsnips and a few whole, peeled cloves of garlic and a few fresh sage leaves from my garden. I tossed that combo in some olive oil, a little sea salt and pepper, threw them on a cookie sheet and popped those in the oven too. I’d say about 45-50 minutes depending on your desired tenderness. The sage got all crunchy and tasted like a gourmet French fry – delish. The whole combo was delish in fact. Once the chicken was done, I pulled off some breast meat for dinner with roasted veggies, and it was plenty for 2 people.
After dinner when the chicken was cool, I pulled all the meat off, set it aside, and put it in the fridge. Most will go back in the soup, but some I saved for tomorrow’s lunch to throw on my mixed baby greens with some leftover roasted veggies. I poured the roasting pan drippings into a soup pot along with all the scraps from the chicken and filled with water, threw in a few more garlic cloves, bay leaf, sea salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and let simmer as long as your heart desires but at least 1.5 hours. I let it cool, and threw the whole thing in the fridge because I was way over cooking for the evening.
Cooling your stock in the fridge solidifies that fat, so it is very easy to remove the next day.
Soup for Day 2 Dinner
I skimmed the fat off, the strained the stock to remove the bones. Ideally, you’d let the stock simmer on low heat to make a reduction – which removes water and gives you a richer, more concentrated flavorful stock. I, however, did not but will try next time. I sautéed the veggies, threw the stock back in with the meat and flavored the soup with paprika, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. You may need to add a bouillon, or stock in a box if it is too bland for you. I let that simmer for about 45 minutes, then added the can of beans. In another 20 minutes, I rinsed the 2 bunches of kale, chopped coarsely, and threw those in the soup as well for another 5-10 minutes. Delish.
Ingredients used: onion, leek, carrots (the rest of them), garlic, beans, and kale.
I spent roughly $29.00 total. There were 3 meals just from the roast chicken and veggies (2 dinners, 1 lunch) plus about 8-10 servings of soup. That’s roughly $2.30 per meal…and everything was organic, so take that naysayers!