Chicken Math – Is buying a whole chicken a better deal?

I admit it, I’m a sucker for short-cuts. I, even as frugal as I am, frequently buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts… but only on sale, usually under $1.80 lb.

A couple months back one of the local stores had whole fryers on sale for 59¢ a pound (gone are the days of those 39¢ birds, at least in my part of the country).

The chicken I bought was 4.99 lbs., total cost was $2.94

The cavity had been stuffed with extras, which really annoyed me, so I counted and weighed them. This ploy is fairly common and IMO is cheating on behalf of the stores. In my experience, all of the grocery stores in my area sell chickens like this.

There was a full pound of ‘junk’ in the cavity, including the tail, neck, and extra fat.

My chicken must have been some sort of a mutant, it had:

  • 4 hearts
  • 2 livers
  • 2 gizzard sets

That came to 5.5 ounces in organ meats (which is included in the 1 pound referenced above). I figured I should weigh it separately, since it is actually edible (I generally cook it and give it to my dog). The other 10.5 oz was garbage. I suppose the TWO necks could be used in making stock…

The carcass itself, once I cut all the meat off was 12 oz. Carcasses, while not edible themselves are useful for making stock.

All in all, I got 3 pounds of meat from my whole chicken (this is not including the skin, wings, carcass or innards), so my final price for meat was $0.98 per pound, plus I had the carcass for soup and the organ meats for the dog.

Once you’ve cut up a few chickens, it’s not particularly challenging. If you’re not de-boning it it’s even faster. I can probably cut up a whole chicken in 10 minutes or less, and I don’t do it all that often. (I prefer to roast my birds whole and strip the meat off after they’re cooked.)

So, I save 80¢ a pound, for 3 pounds, $2.40 for less than 10 minutes. That doesn’t seem like a very big return on investment, but when you extrapolate it out, it’s over $14 hour.