January 7th, 2013

Eat Smart Tip! Stretch your dollar & eat healthier meat, too

OneHungryMama Coconut Mango Roast Chicken

I’ve got a quick tip—just one—that will help you stretch your dollar, eat healthier and make the most of your food. Just one change in the way that you buy chicken and you get all three benefits. Before I tell you what it is, though, let’s quickly talk about organic meat.

I’ll keep it simple: it’s worth the extra upfront cost. Once you learn how to stretch your food and reduce your food waste, in the end, you’ll find that more expensive, organic meat doesn’t have much more of an impact on your wallet than conventionally raise meat. With smart choices, there’s serious value to be had.

The health value is clear. While I know that you’re wary of labels (with good reason!), the hard truth is that conventionally raised and processed meat is simply less healthy and, even worse, often unsafe. I talk about this at great length with clients and while speaking since lots of folks don’t realize that, especially for adults and older children who’ve shifted to a meat-heavy diet, buying natural meat, eggs, milk and other dairy like butter and cheese can be even more important than buying organic produce. In his recent piece “Pesticides and Herbicides in Children” published on the site of famed pediatrician Dr. Greene, Dr. Ty Vincent explains that animal products have much higher pesticide content than fruits and vegetables because animals eating nonorganic feed for their entire lives will bio-accumulate toxins to much higher levels.

There can be value in buying organic meat for your budget as well, but you have to decide that your budget is there to support your health. It’s not the other way around: in 2013 let’s challenge ourselves to stop thinking that our budget limits our ability to get healthy! Smart choices make it possible for people on any budget to eat more healthfully and this year I’m determined to help you figure out what those “Eat Smart” choices are specifically for you. We’re going to make it work! (And, yes, I am channeling Tim Gunn.)

Step one for you meat eaters is buying healthier meat. You’re going to spend more money upfront, which means that you’ll have to eat less meat to stay within your budget. This is good news! Eating less meat is healthier. If that didn’t really feel like good news, though, a) it will when you start to feel better and b) you’ll be highly motivated to stretch your meat so that it won’t feel like less.

This is where today’s tip comes in.

Skip the supermarket chicken unless your market has a butcher and carries organic, naturally raised chickens, and go to a butcher where you can request a whole chicken cut into pieces. If you want any of the pieces deboned, just say so. You’ll get the sexy pieces—wings, thighs, legs, and the split breast—which will make a solid dinner for 4-6, depending on what else you’re serving—and also the neck, innards, and some other parts that will make a mean chicken stock, your base for a second meal.

One chicken, two meals. This is how we get more bang for our buck and make the most of that pricier but healthier meat.

Here’s an example of this trick at work. I recently used my sexy pieces to make this Coconut Mango Roasted Chicken for DINNER ONE. The next day, I threw the leftover bones from our roast chicken dinner and some of the leftover meat into a stock pot with the rest of the chicken pieces from the butcher, two big carrots, two stalks of celery, a roughly peels and chopped onion, two cloves of garlic, a couple of whole coriander seeds and black peppercorns, a bay leaf and a few sprigs of fresh thyme into a pot. This made a lovely, simple stock. Once the stock was strained of everything but the carrots and celery, which I chopped into bite-size pieces, it became broth for DINNER TWO along with a pile of buttered egg noodles and a big salad.

I paid more for an organic chicken, but got two chicken dinners out of it. Both served healthier, modest portions of meat, but they were meat-based dinners nonetheless. Fear not carnivores!

What do you think: is this something you can do? Yes you can! And let us know if you have other tips for making the most of healthier meat. Let’s help each other make it easier and affordable to eat healthier meat in 2013!

5 Responses

  1. James says:

    Great post. Stretching meals is always a fun quest for me. You might pay more for a cut of meat or bird but if you can make multiple meals out of it – you’ve won ! We have a 4 year old daughter and twin 2 year old boys – so stretching meals and reworking leftovers is always challenging (but fun!) for me. Hey – I like puzzles. And I love cooking for my family. Ham is a great stretcher. What about your readers ? What stretchers do they employ to feed hungry families ? Thanks !

  2. Rosie says:

    Great post and I love your philosophy about one’s health dictating the budget and not the other way around. When I, as the primary grocery shopper and food preparer in the house (as most women are) decided a few years ago to only buy and serve organically and ethically raised meat (chicken, beef and pork), the economics naturally dictated that we just eat less of it. Not only do we eat more meatless main dishes but when we do eat meat, there is less of it on our plates and NOTHING goes to waste. Leftovers are the norm not the exception in our house.

    Great post to start the new year and the coconut mango chicken sounds delicious. As always, thank you!

  3. Hayley says:

    This week I stretched THREE meals out of a whole, organic chicken (2 adults, 1 toddler, 2 infants who eat like 1 toddler haha)

    Night 1 – roasted chicken with roasted brussels sprouts and couscous (used 2 drumsticks, both wings & thighs)

    Night 2 – chipotle chicken panini with kettle chips & salad (used 1 whole breast, sliced thinly)

    Night 3 – chicken and black bean quesadillas with yellow rice (used the other whole breast, shredded and mixed with beans for some bulk!)

  4. One Hungry Mama says:

    I am such a nerd because @Haley, your comment just made me incredibly giddy. LOVE it! Tanks for sharing. And love the idea of a chipotle chicken panini sandwich—yum!

  5. “Skip the supermarket chicken unless your market has a butcher and carries organic, naturally raised chickens, and go to a butcher where you can request a whole chicken cut into pieces.”

    Wow thanks for that tips. The taste and experience was improved ten times, if not more. The ones you buy in the supermarket is stuffed with so much strange things.

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