I said I'd post some tips on here on how to save moolah for my friends who are curious about different ways to save money. I obviously haven't done a lot of that yet, but here's one!
Chicken is expensive. Particularly when you buy it in the individually wrapped packages. Personally I think it is ridiculous to pay $4 a pound for chicken. Please for all that is right and wrong and good and bad in the world, KNOW what you're paying per pound. A 2 lb frozen bag of chicken on sale for 6.99 is NOT a great deal. They don't always tell you the pounds. Sometimes it's in ounces and sometimes they don't tell you at all. It only takes a minute or less to figure it out on your own and it could save you several dollars.
At this point, for us, having a chicken coop and butchering our own chickens isn't ideal. If you're capable and willing to do it, I think that's great. You can use some to breed, some for eggs, and some for eating. In the long run, this is probably the cheapest method although there is some work involved and immediate costs.
If you like the dark meat, you can find great deals on leg and thigh meat. Buy it on sale and buy a lot of it when it's on sale. Or if you like it all, whole fryers can be a good option, particularly if you learn how to cut it into parts.
For me, I like a whole chicken every once in a while but we don't really eat a lot of dark meat. We prefer chicken breasts.
So here's what I do... I watch the sales at various stores in the area. If I see split chicken breasts for 99 cents per lb or less, I buy at least 25 pounds. I know it sounds like a lot, but that goes QUICKLY. You want to buy enough to last you until the next sale. If you watch, you'll notice a pattern. Most items go on sale about every 4-8 weeks. I then spend about an hour cutting the meat off the bone. I dump the scraps and bones into a big pot or 2 that I make into chicken stock. I rinse them, pat dry, put meal size portions into ziploc bags, label them, and freeze them. When you cut them carefully off the bone, you will have both a tender and a breast. It's actually quite easy and doesn't take long at all, especially once you get the hang of it.
If you're curious about the chicken stock, it's SO easy and will also save you lots of money. Put your bones/scraps into a pot. Throw in a couple carrots, celery, an onion cut in half, a couple cloves of garlic, some salt. pepper, and rosemary. (No need to peel the carrots or cut off parts. I'd peel the garlic and onion for the best flavor but don't worry about cutting off roots and such) Cover with water. Cook without a lid for an hour or 2. Drain and let cool. Label some ziploc bags and pour equal amounts in each bag and freeze or can. You can put anything you want into the stock and leave pretty much anything out. I've even put radish leaves in it and it was really good!
Hope this helps! Here's the quick break down.
1. Raise and butcher your own chickens if you can/are willing.
2. ALWAYS know how much you're getting for the price. (Figure out the price per lb.)
3. Watch sales and shop around for best price.
4. When price is right, buy A LOT.
5. Cut it off the bone yourself and make stock.
6. If none of these options work for you, you can sometimes find meat on closeout and there are also sometimes coupons.
(Perdue has coupons from time to time and rumor has it that Target has 3.5 whole fryers on sale for 99cents, Thanks hip2save.com!)