Need to make multiple meals from one chicken, but not sure how? In this post I explain how to stretch a whole chicken to make three or even four meals for a family. All recipes are low-carb, keto, gluten-free, and diabetic friendly.
Why make multiple meals from one chicken?
These are chaotic times! Grocery store shelves are empty. Restaurants are closed. Some of us have been ordered to stay home. Kids are home. Borders have closed. Jobs have been lost.
With everything going on this week and the turmoil the crisis has caused in my own life, I didn’t have the bandwidth to create a new recipe. I’ve been creating a plan in my mind on how to deal with this and thought I would share some of my ideas with you.
One of these ideas is stretching food as far as it will go. Making multiple meals from one chicken helps save money, use what we have the best we can in a time of shortage, and leaves more for others.
Conserving food in hard times
Conserving food right now is at the top of my plan to get through this time. This is important both because of limited availability of food in the current environment and the loss of jobs and lack of cash that some of us are experiencing.
Using food to its fullest potential allows us to make fewer trips to the grocery store which helps limit exposure. Of course, there is the potential of getting sick and not being able to get out of the house to get groceries.
I suspect that the grocery stores will readjust and restock soon, but we don’t know when. The economy will pick up, but it could take some time. Hopefully this virus will burn out quickly.
My plan is to stretch the food I have in my refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. I’m planning to use some of my cuts of meats to create multiple meals.
How to make multiple meals from one chicken
One thing I was able to get when I went to the store was a big frozen chicken. (The refrigerated section had no chicken left at all.) A whole chicken was at the top of the list because I knew I could get multiple meals out of it.
I want to point out that if you didn’t get a whole chicken, a large package of bone-in, skin-on thighs or legs would work wonderfully for this as well. These are lower cost, flavorful cuts of meat.
Roasting a whole chicken using what you have available
The first meal I will make with this chicken is a simple roasted chicken. One option is this easy recipe for roasted chicken. It requires very few ingredients.
If you don’t have, or maybe don’t like paprika, you can simply mix together a mixture of cooking oil, salt, and your favorite herbs and rub it all over the chicken. I use a a few tablespoons of avocado oil mixed with a few teaspoons of salt and some garlic and thyme, rosemary and garlic, poultry seasoning, or sage.
Use what you have. Some Cajun seasoning or curry powder would also be good.
When rubbing the mixture on the chicken, I like to slide my hand under the skin to get the flavor closer to the meat.
Once you have the meat prepped, use the same roasting time and temperature from the recipe above. If you are using legs or thigh, you’ll need to decrease the roasting time.
You can serve the roasted chicken as meal number one. If need to stretch out the chicken even more, you can go straight to the section on using the leftovers.
Storing the leftovers
This meal is likely to have some leftovers. You will want to carefully pick all of the meat off of the bones of the chicken and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Do not discard the bones! Instead, use them to make chicken stock. If you aren’t ready to make stock, you can put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
Making Chicken Stock or Bone Broth
I use this recipe to make chicken bone broth.
If you don’t have the exact produce this recipe asks for, you can use more of one of the other ingredients. Any kind of onion will work–even leeks or scallions.
Even the vinegar in this recipe is optional. It helps acidify the water to pull the calcium and other minerals out of the bones. Other types of vinegar or even lemon juice will work just as well. If you don’t have any, no worries. Chefs have been making stock for years without it.
This stock can be used for soup or in other recipes. I like to use the bulk of it to make a batch of chicken soup. Then I will freeze the rest in 1 to 2 cup quantities so I have smaller amounts available to make sauces.
Making more meals using the leftover chicken
Depending on how much chicken you have leftover, you will be able to make one to three more meals with the leftovers.
One meal I would definitely recommend during this time is our recipe for leftover chicken soup. This soup is pure comfort food, perfect for a stressful time. It’s also wonderful to have around if you do end up becoming sick.
This recipe can be versatile. If you’re a little short on chicken, you can use less and fill it in with veggies. You can also substitute the veggies you have. Zucchini or summer squash, green beans, or even tomatoes could be part of this soup. You could even add spinach or kale. If you use leafy greens, add them at the very end of the cooking time as they cook very quickly.
Chicken salads are a wonderful way to use up leftover chicken. This Low-Carb Chicken Avocado Salad makes a satisfying main course. If your grocery store is sold out of avocados, like mine was, you can just stir some guacamole in with the chicken chunks to make a super-easy meal.
Another chicken salad that I love is this Basil Balsamic Chicken Salad. This has a nice fresh taste that will be a family hit. If you don’t have tomatoes and basil available yet, summer is coming, so you will soon.
Our Nut and Berry Chicken Salad will add a bit of color and variety to your table. If you don’t have fresh berries, you can defrost some frozen ones and use them in a pinch. They won’t be as pretty, but this isn’t a time for perfection. This is a time for making the most with what you have.
Chicken and Cauliflower Rice
One way my mother used to stretch out meat was to use rice. Unfortunately, rice is too rich in carbohydrates for most of my readers to use. I do have a lot of recipes using cauliflower rice, however. A handful of chicken (or whatever meat you happened to score at the supermarket), will round out any of these recipes into a whole meal.
One kid-friendly option is my recipe for cauliflower fried rice. Just make the recipe as written, then stir in a handful of chicken at the end and stir until it’s heated through. Your family will love it!
I also have a recipe for Low-Carb Cauliflower Risotto with Basil and Sun Dried Tomatoes. If you can’t find fresh basil for this recipe, you can use dried basil, just cut down the amount to 1/3rd the amount.
Finally, my recipe for Cauliflower Rice Pilaf Recipe would work well with some chicken as well. If you’re looking for comfort food, this recipe is for you!
Need more ideas? Check out these recipes for leftover chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen.
It may feel like the world around us is going crazy, but putting food on the table and eating together can go a long way towards making your family feel safe. I hope this post gives you some actionable ideas on how to do this.
Let’s help each other through this difficult time. Leave your tips below. Also, please let me know what you need from me to get you through this difficult time.