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Budget Hack: Shredded Chicken

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A few weeks ago, I noticed a sale at the local grocery store... boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.77 a pound. Usually a good sale is $1.99/lb.

This article isn't about capitalizing on that 10% difference between the sale prices. It is about the sale price of chicken in general. For years now I've seen that $1.99/lb. price. Who knew that chicken had an immunity to inflation?

Beef, on the other hand, has lost its battle to inflation. It's gotten so pricey that I resorted to mixing ground turkey and beef. By the way, that was a winning experiment... no one could tell the difference, it was healthier, and it saved money.

Chicken seems to be a big win. Most health advocates seem to agree it is a healthier alternative to beef. I rarely see the healthier food priced at a discount.

At the $1.77 sale, I bought a lot of chicken.... maybe 10 pounds. I separated a large amount of it an put it in individual bags in our chest freezer.

The question became what to do with the rest of the chicken? I had a good 3-4 pounds. I thought getting a recipe book, but I'm not much of a recipe kind of person. Instead I took out my slow cooker. I added a little water and the chicken and left it on low for a few hours.

I came back to something that looked like boiled chicken. If there's anything that lacks taste more than boiled chicken, it is called "water."

As I hoped, the chicken shredded very easily in a bowl. I now had shredded chicken to eat throughout the week. I added it to nachos to make them more of a lunch. I had it in a sandwich with cheese and guacamole. I had it in a burrito with salsa, pinto beans, and rice (super cheap meal!). Can you tell that I'm currently on a Mexican food kick?

I also added it to our dog's food and he ate right away for the first time in a long time.

My sense of taste is not very strong, so this may not be for everyone. However, I've found that when it is combined with other ingredients, it isn't like eating boiled chicken by itself.

I may just be over-excited about all the different uses I found for it, but it feels like it will become a staple in our house. Cheap staples are important, because they can curb the "I'll just grab a meal while I'm out" urges. Saving $5 here and there really adds up.

Next time I buy chicken, I'm thinking of shredding more of it to start and using my FoodSaver (Review) to freeze it for awhile. I use this FoodSaver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer with mason jars so that I don't have to pay for special bags over and over again.

I'll just pull them out of the freezer, thaw them in the fridge (or in warm water), and enjoy the shredded chicken.

Do you have any budget food hacks? Let me know in the comments.

Last updated on June 2, 2015.

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6 Responses to “Budget Hack: Shredded Chicken”

  1. Valerie says:

    Do you ever think/worry about the quality of the meat/poultry you’re getting at that price? It might be a bargain, but at what cost? Antibiotics, hormones? I’d rather pay more for local, organic, or kosher meat that has been treated humanely and isn’t putting anything unnatural into my body.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I believe the label says it is hormone-free. I honestly don’t put a lot of worry into the quality of the chicken itself. Millions and millions of people are eating much more processed foods that probably have far more “unnatural” ingredients. At least this way, I’m making a sandwich and not grabbing a bag of chips, right?

    I’m not sure you can be perfect in every aspect of life. I’m not sure if one should be too extreme in any aspect of life. Someone could just as easily ask if I worry about the time I spend writing on a computer instead of running 10 miles a day.

    I try to balance the pros and cons and do the 80-20 rule of getting 80% of the benefit for 20% of the cost when I can. I view a switch to organic as being something that only pushes it up a few more percentage points in the health scale at a far greater cost. The greater food cost would have likely eliminated my ability to buy a treadmill desk.

    There are a lot of trade-offs in personal finance.

  3. Big-D says:

    Holy crap that is cheap chicken. Best sale I have seen in the last year around here has been $3.29 a pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts. Guess getting it while the getting is good is a nice thing.

  4. Lazy Man says:

    Aldi is my friend. The store has amazing prices.

    However, I think I’ve seen $2.50 or less at warehouse stores. That is typically frozen, not sure if you can cook it and freeze it again (I usually stay away from the “double freeze”). Still, if you have a membership to one, you might be able to save some bucks that way.

  5. Big-D says:

    You can freeze cooked meat again. The issue is bacteria. If you freeze raw chicken (never been frozen) you freeze the bacteria in it, which means you have to cook it before you eat it. If you freeze meat, then defrost it, and freeze it again after you cook it, the bacteria is dead. You still have to cook it the second time, however your “risk” is very low. If it is in a broth or something of that ilk, then your second time around cooking is a lot easier. If it is just shredded chicken, you have to watch out for water loss when frozen, as it won’t taste as good the next time around. However that is with any frozen meat.

    They don’t have an Aldi around me where I live, closest one is 25 miles away.

  6. Lazy Man says:

    Good to know. I could definitely add some chicken broth, before freezing.

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