Cutting costs in the Kitchen
- Roarasaur Apr 5, 2011 08:10 PM
I tried doing a search but wasn't able to come up with anything, but anwyays, I was talking to a few roommates today and we were discussing about how I buy skin on, bone in chicken breast while they would buy skinless, boneless chicken breast. At the nearby supermarket, the skin on, bone in chicken breast sells for $7.39 /kg ($3.36/lb) and the skinless boneless chicken breasts sells for almost double at $13.45/kg ($6.11/lb). To me its just a few minutes of prep to the chicken to remove the bone and if I want to the skin. Plus, with this I get to collect the bones and use them for stock :D. I think part of it may also be that they dont like touching the "Icky" stuff but I feel so proud when I debone my own chicken. lol.
However, they would forego without spending more time in the kitchen and spend a little more for the convenience. My one roomate even said that the inedible bones take up some of the weight. While I dont have a scale, I'm sure that it doesnt take up much weight at all.
While I'm sure this principle of cutting costs can be applied to other meats as well, chicken I think is the easist example I can think of. As well as grating your own cheese (which I do as well).
What do the rest of your CH'ers do? Save some cash and prep your chicken or pay more for the convenience?
My ex used to insist that the weight of the bones negated the cost savings of bone-in chicken breasts. He did all the shopping and managed to cook the breasts so dry that they were inedible for me.
My boyfriend and I don't do a whole lot of chicken, but when we do, they're family packs of bone-in thighs for price and flavor. We freeze them in single-meal portions. The family packs tend to go on sale more often at our local grocery store.
ETA: Yes, we do buy larger blocks of cheese and grate our own. Oh, and to use fresher herbs and spices, we buy those loose and keep them in those tiny plastic lidded Gladware containers.
In my experience, there is about 50% 'waste' in bone-on and skin-on chicken breast. It takes two pounds to net one pound prepped. This I determined by using my scale.
So $3.36 per pound un-prepped is actually costing $6.72 per pound vs $6.11 per pound for already prepped.
I buy the un-prepped, remove the bone and leave the skin on. I prefer the way it cooks to skinned chicken. Unless I'm planning to grind the chicken. Then I decide based on the price of both types.
Using the bones for stock is worth something. You need to figure that out for yourself.
As for grating cheese, there's no waste there.
Buy the whole chicken and cut it up raw yourself. Deboning the breast is the hardest part and you already do that. After you've cut one up and you're familiar with where the joints are, it takes under 5 minutes per whole bird. Depending on your freezer space you can seriously stock up when the birds are on sale and cut chicken packs better in the freezer than whole. You can skin some breasts and satisfy your roommates need for speed. Then take all the necks and back bones and other "trash" parts, throw them in a pot with some celery, carrots and onion, simmer into a simple stock, and freeze that in various portion sizes. You and your roommates can have homemade soup in 45 minutes or less. You'll get the biggest bang for your buck between sale price, cutting and freezing, stock, and ipse's skin magic!
Deboning the breast is the hardest part and you already do that.
For those who find deboning raw chicken to be difficult, it might just be better to cook the whole chicken (either roasting it or just freaking boiling the sucker) and then debone. It's always easier to debone a cooked bird than a raw one because when your knife-skills fail, you can just resort to pulling the meat off the bone. Hard to do that with raw meat.
Recently they were on sale for $0.39/lb. Even with the waste they are still very cheap. I don't toss out much. That fatty skin flap is does not weigh that much to offset the savings. Now if you are counting bones and skin, well that's a bit more percentage wise. I don't let much go to waste so bones and skin go to a bag for stock making. I recently took the skin of thighs and scraped out most of the fat then rendered them further to make nearly fat free chicken skin crisps.
I do the same thing with my chicken - I buy the bone-in breasts and trim them myself. Here, I can often get them on sale for $1 a pound, while boneless skinless are, at best (on sale), $2.
Plus, I have better control over the size of my portions - while the 7 or 8-ounce boneless frankenboobs may run $2 a pound, more reasonable, 5-6 ounce cutlets cost $3-4/lb., as do the tenders, both of which are included with my $1/lb. chicken.
Typically, rather than compare pound -for -pound (comparing boneless skinless breasts to some combination of cutlets, tenders and random trimmings, plus bones and skins for better stock), I look at the number of meals and cost per meal.
Even if cost-wise, it was a wash (which I don't believe it is, but I've never seriously done the math), the portion control and better quality (of the final chicken stock, if nothing else) is well worth the half hour it might take me to trim 10 pounds of chicken breasts.
As an aside, I also like to get a whole bone-in rib roast when it goes on sale the day after Thanksgiving for an obscenely cheap price and butcher my own Christmas rib roast, several steaks, have bones for beef stock, and scraps for grinding meat.
I buy in bulk wherever I can, and stock up when things are on special. That way I get the best of both worlds - boneless and skinless, and a lower price per unit :)