One Whole Chicken, Endless Possibilities!

Before I put myself on this Dine at Home for a Month challenge, I used to go grocery shopping to buy enough ingredients for one night’s supper, only to return the following day to do the same. While the idea of picking up only what you need for that day is appealing, the amount of money I spent on food a month accumulated to an astronomical amount (plus gas money). I’m learning every day now that the key to keeping your food cost down is to plan ahead and be creative with the ingredients that you already have on hand.

For only the second time this month, I went to a grocery store to pick up some fresh produces. I still had enough food to sustain me for good 10 days but I was in the need of my staple vegetables like napa cabbage and green onions. The grand total for the shopping trip was about $20 but I ended up paying nothing for it. No, I didn’t do the crazy extreme couponing or anything. I gathered all the loose coins I had around (in my jacket pocket, in my purses, behind the couch, etc.) and used the handy dandy Coinstar machine at a supermarket to turn them into a voucher that I can redeem for bills (just remember that they do charge a 10% fee per transaction). The amount came to $25 so I actually got $5 back at the register. It felt really wonderful that I walked away richer than I started. 🙂

One of the good finds of the trip was a whole 4 lbs. chicken that was on sale for $3.50. A chicken wasn’t really on my shopping list but I couldn’t resist it with that price!  I used to be really intimidated by the thought of cooking a whole chicken, but I got used to it after tackling a 10-plus pound bird on Thanksgiving dinner every year. Buying a whole chicken usually comes out cheaper than buying packaged thighs and breasts, and you can always use the bones and carcasses to make homemade chicken broth that you can use later.  My fiance made me the Asian version of the broth by cooking the chicken bones with garlic, ginger, and green onion.  I put it in plastic containers and popped them in the freezer for later use.

So, here are some chicken dishes that I’ve enjoyed so far this week.

Chicken Focaccia Sandwich: Inspired by the chicken tartine I ate at Cuisine De Bar in Paris, I made a chicken sandwich using Foccacia that I baked last week. I sandwiched shredded chicken, sliced onion, mayonnaise, capers, and salt and pepper between the homemade Italian bread. It was a perfect light lunch. The bread was in the freezer but it defrosted perfectly and it was still amazingly flavorful!

Chicken Nabe: My fiancé made me a chicken pot hot flavored with miso, ginger, garlic and other delicious ingredients. He tossed in tofu, napa cabbage, onion, and harusame, with lots of green onions on top. I had a leftover the next day, by pouring the soup on top of white rice.  It was SO good!

Hiyashi Chuka: I had a Japanese cold noodle for dinner one night, piled with shredded chicken, sliced cucumbers, eggs, and wakame (seaweed), with yuzu-flavored sauce.

Bravo, whole chicken.  Bravo.

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