Whole Chicken in a Crockpot – Have I uncovered a frugal myth?

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I shared a confession on the Frugal Find Facebook wall, it read…

I have a confession to make – as frugal as I am, I’ve never cooked a whole chicken before. I hate the though of touching raw chicken AT ALL and so I’ve always shopped around and found good prices on boneless/skinless chicken. No more though! I’ve purchased my first whole chicken and into the crockpot he’s going today. Felt good to get that off my chest :)

The responses to that wall post were wonderfully encouraging and so I pushed ahead and began (with gloved hands) to pull out the inners of the chicken, rinse him clean, stick him in the crockpot and sprinkle him with my favorite Pampered Chef Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix.  I also added 1/2 cup of water and 4 whole garlic cloves.  For 6 long hours he cooked and simmered, the house smelled so very delicious!  At one point I heard my 4 year old from upstairs say “Brother, do you smell that? Something smells really good!”

When it was time to pull him out, I set him on a cutting board to cool off so I could easily pull the meat off the bones without scorching myself.  I had cooked my chicken well because he was falling off the bones, the process was simple and my tray was quickly filling up with tender meat.  The possibilities were running through my mind of all the freezer meals I could make with this meat.  I put the rest of the skin and bones back into the crockpot with another 1.5 cups of water to simmer on low for a couple of hours.  My plan is to make chicken stock.

I began to divide the chicken up among freezer bags, 2 cups per bag.  I was able to get 5 1/2 cups of meat and that felt pretty decent.  That would make 2-3 casserole or enchilada meals, maybe even a salad or two.  Then I got the idea to weigh my meat and what I found was shocking.  I must be missing something crucial here.

I paid $0.98/lb for the whole chicken at Walmart, from what I know this is a decent price.  It was almost a 5lb chicken so I paid just under $5.00.  But guess what?  That 5lb chicken only netted me 1.78lbs of meat – the rest was just skin and bones!  So in the end I paid $2.78 per pound – OUCH!  Did I do something wrong?  How could this be a more “frugal” way to go about cooking and eating chicken?

I’ve often been able to get boneless/skinless chicken breast for $1.50 – $1.99 per pound.  Of course when it’s $1.50/lb I stock up!  So tell me what am I missing or have I uncovered a frugal myth here – is it possible whole chickens are NOT cheaper than their boneless/skinless nemesis.

Of course the math-minded Mr. Frugal just pointed out the fact that 5lbs of boneless/skinless chicken breast would cook down as well – so maybe that’s the key.  I plan to test this soon and get back to you!  For now, we have some very tasty meat to devour.

You can check out the final results here – Whole Chicken vs. Chicken Breast Experiment Results

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  1. We usually purchase our whole chicken at Wal-Mart too. Around the holidays is the time to stock up. Wal-Mart usually has it’s whole chicken $0.99lb. We look for the “Quick Sale” Chickens that are reduce to $0.88lb and purchase one or two. This is usually Wal-Mart’s sale price around Thanksgiving also($0.88) . I have always been a HUGE fan of Kroger’s Rotisserie Chicken. I thought to myself I can cook one just as good and I can control THE SALT content. So with a few birds later I am known for the Homemade Rotisserie Chicken. I bake mine in the oven. A few weeks ago I cooked a 6.75lb Chicken and NOT one bite was left. He reminded me of a mini turkey he was so huge. If I can find one on sale cheaper I will make Wal-Mart price comp. :)

  2. I always save the chicken carcass’ until I get 2-3 and then put them in the crockpot with celery ends, carrot ends, onion – whatever I’ve saved. Fill crockpot with water and cook 24 hours. Strain broth and free and then pick the bones again. You will have enough meat for another meal and the skin and grizzle for the pets. Flavor beats boneless skinless breasts every time. Also, organic chicken on sale at Nugget for $.85 lb this week. I’m stocking up.

  3. You really make a good point here. I always thought a whole chicken was cheap, and buying boneless skinless chicken breasts was kind of a luxury purchase for me. Maybe not! I’m curious about how the other cookes down.

    I found whole chicken at Wal Mart for .99 a pound also, but .98 at Grocery Outlet, both Foster Farms.

  4. if you watch sales- Safeway & Savemart will have whole Foster Farms chickens on sale for $0.59-$0.69/lb (usually in fall/winter). Can get whole chicken for ~$3. Works well for us.

  5. Patrick says:

    When you buy those whole chickens real cheap make sure the lable DOESN’T say Hali on it.
    This means it was processed to MUSLIM standards and NOT American standards.
    Not really quite as healthy as they don’t mind letting the dead chicken sit around in the hot sun for a few hours before they load it to ship it to a processing house.
    Same with cows.
    Hali foods are starting to show up in a lot of discount food markets…Costco being one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true, as an expert in the poultry processing field, the only difference is that the birds are blessed by a priest before they are processed.

  6. Just a thought here, but you are really comparing apples to oranges. It’s easy to say “chicken is chicken” but it’s not. When you buy boneless skinless chicken breasts you are getting only that, and perhaps you dont care what type of chicken you are using for the meals you have planned. Buying a whole chicken gives you both white and dark meat, it gives you legs, wings, breasts, and thighs. You can compare a whole chicken to a package of chicken breasts. If all you are looking for is how many pounds of chicken you get then sure it’s probably not going to stack up. But I wonder how much you would pay per pound to get all the pieces of the chicken for different flavors and meals. I understand how at the end you felt like you paid more, but in my opinion you are looking at it wrong because they really are different results.

  7. But how much chicken broth/stock did you get? Wouldn’t that need to be calculated as well? I mean 4 cups of swansons broth is like $4 where I live.

    • True! It’s been a while since this recipe was posted so I honestly can’t tell you how much broth there was.But you have a good point there :)


  1. […] Raley’s Natural Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – $1.99/lb  No artificial ingredients or preservatives, also don’t forget to ask for your FREE rub or marinade! Did you see my “Frugal or Not?” Whole Chicken Experiment? […]

  2. […] post is a follow up to my “Frugal or not – Whole Chicken Experiment” so if you haven’t read the original post you’ll want to do that first. […]

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