How to Get Four Meals from a Whole Chicken

One way I can really stretch our grocery budget is to make a whole chicken in the crock pot and use it for several meals. Many of you have asked how you can get more than one meal out of a whole chicken, so I wanted to show you how I do it.

crock pot chicken meals

A whole chicken can usually be purchased for under a $1 a pound (more if you are buying an organic, free range chicken) but it is still cheaper than buying chicken breast. I try to get a 4-5 pound chicken.

First cook your whole chicken. You can find a step-by-step tutorial for cooking a whole chicken here.

crockpot chicken

When your chicken is done you’ll want to remove all the meat from the chicken.  Don’t throw the bones away!

Chances are you won’t get all the meat off the bones. Throw them back into the crock pot, add some water, and let them simmer overnight.

Not only will you find more meat floating around in the broth the next morning, you will have several cups of broth you can use in soups, pot pie, or to cook rice.

Don’t throw away the fat from the broth. The fat can be saved and used to cook veggies in lieu of bacon grease or oil. 

Once you have all your chicken off the bone, shred it and divide it into four equal sections. This will be the meat for your meals. You should have a little over a cup of chicken in each bag if you buy a 4 to 5 pound chicken.

I store the shredded chicken in Ziploc bags, and usually freeze two and put two in the fridge for the week.

The key to making the chicken stretch for four meals is to not serve the chicken by itself as your main dish. If everyone eats a large piece of chicken you can’t make one chicken last for more than a meal or two, but when you mix it with other foods, it is easier to stretch.

While we eat meatless meals once or twice a week, my family prefers to have some meat in their meal (well the little girls don’t care) and it seems to keep them fuller longer, even the meat is mixed in and not served by itself.

Each of these main dishes serve four people with leftovers.

Meal #1: Chicken and corn chowder

This delicious recipe uses chicken broth so don’t forget to save the broth from your whole chicken for this recipe. The recipe calls for two cups of cooked chicken but you can definitely make it stretch with a cup and a half.

Meal #2: Chicken pot pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is a family favorite and a great way to use up the broth. I use about one cup of chicken in my pie and double up on the veggies and potatoes. My kids eat pie for the crust so they don’t even notice how much chicken is in the pie.

Meal #3: Chicken and Bean Burritos 

chicken enchiladas

This is actually a bean burrito recipe, but my family really likes meat with their dinner so I add about a cup of shredded chicken to this recipe. This is a great quick recipe for busy nights and also freezes well.

Meal #4: Chicken Tetrazzini


This recipe calls for chopped chicken breasts, but I often make it with shredded chicken. This recipe came from my dear friend Blair and it is a favorite of my kids! In fact for years we ate it at least once a week, sometimes more.

If you are gluten free you can make this with spaghetti squash or gluten free noodles, of course.

You don’t need to use these recipes to stretch a whole chicken. Any recipe that calls for shredded chicken can be made with meat from a whole chicken.

To make stretch the meat and the budget, look for recipes like soups, casseroles, and pasta. These recipes usually supplement with rice or beans and you’ll can use less meat in your main dish to save money.

Here are a few additional recipes that call for shredded/ chunk chicken.

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Can you Cook a Halloween Pumpkin (Jack-o-lantern)?

I’ve been asked if you can cook a Halloween pumpkin many times. The short answer is yes. However pumpkins that we purchase for carving (in America) are not grown to be cooked and don’t taste great in traditional pumpkin recipes. (Think pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, etc)

pumpkin baking

“Jack-o-latern” pumpkins are typically large, flat bottomed, and filled with less flesh to make them easier to carve. Their seeds, however are plentiful and great for roasting.

If you want to use fresh pumpkin in a recipe purchase a “pie pumpkin” from the grocery store. They are sold during the fall months and are grown specifically for baking. They are darker in color and are very dense which makes them perfect for baking.

I do not recommend cooking a pumpkin that has already been carved and left outside for an evening or two. Leave the big pumpkins for carving and use the smaller pie pumpkins in your baking.

If you love pumpkin I highly recommend cooking a pie pumpkin. Canned pumpkin isn’t pure pumpkin it is a mixture of squash and pumpkin and isn’t as sweet as the flesh straight of of a pumpkin. Your friends and family will be raving about your pumpkin baked goods when you use fresh, super sweet pie pumpkin in the recipe.

Find step by step instructions on how to cook a pie pumpkin and several delicious recipes here.

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Getting Ahead in Your Real Food Kitchen: Discount Code

Did you know that Americans spend an average of 4.5% of their income eating out?

I’m not against eating out, if you can afford it and as long as you aren’t doing it every day because it is healthier to eat at home.

But many people are still looking for ways to cut their food budget and my advice is to first start tracking how much you spend on eating out each month.

real food make ahead

Our family eats out for two reasons, entertainment (we usually got out after church) and poor planning.  I’m fine with going out for our Sunday dinner, but I’m not fine ordering pizza or driving through on a regular basis because things are just so crazy I can’t get dinner on the table.

The key to getting dinner or breakfast or lunch on the table in my busy house- is planning ahead. Many people think make ahead meals are unhealthy or are filled with cream of something or processed foods. They can be, but if you are looking for a real food alternative you need to check out my friend Laura’s, Let’s Do This! Getting Ahead in Your Real Food Kitchen eCourse and {Healthy} Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks eBook.

Here’s why I recommend it:

Laura is a busy mom of four boys. She doesn’t have hours and hours to spend on a meal. She’s a real mom, not some chef in a test kitchen who has never had to argue with a four year old over eating one more bite of anything.

She’s a real food enthusiast. I’ve known Laura for almost six years and she really gets the real food thing. She feeds her family healthy, from scratch meals and I’ve tried her recipes. They are delicious. She also uses food you have heard of, not items you will have to order on Amazon that cost $32 a pound.

The techniques she shares in this course can be done by anyone. You don’t have to be a seasoned cook, or even a cook at all to implement her strategies for getting ahead in the kitchen. She also goes step by step, so for those who are overwhelmed with even getting started, her course will help you.

It will save you money. Having meals prepared and ready to put on the table when life gets crazy saves you time and money. Not only that, it will help your family eat healthier, which is something I think all of us want for our families.

make ahead meals ebook

From now until February 28th you can save an extra $1 on this eBook AND ecourse bundle when you use the code HAPPYHOUSE at checkout, making it only $7 for both! (They are already discounted when bundled, so you can save even more with our unique coupon code!)  However, if you just want to purchase one, you can do that as well.  They are $5 each.

Purchase your the ecourse and/or ebook today!


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Traditional Recipes Bundle Sale: Real Food for Real Families

I’m working on converting all my recipes to a digital copy as I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to search for a paper copy of a recipe (usually handwritten on an index card) only to not be able to find it. That’s why I am loving these eBook bundles that are full of recipes, since I’m digitizing my kitchen anyway!

In our days of fast food drive-thrus and prepackaged dinners, I am purposely seeking out real food recipes to feed my family.  I want my children to know how to prepare their own meals made with real ingredients and not have to depend on fast food or takeout.  This particular recipe eBook bundle has 17 eBooks for $14.97 or only 88¢ each!  With more than 800 recipes that’s less than 2¢ per recipe!! Enough math…onto the recipes…


Are you new to real food and wish you had more healthy recipes…including snacks and money-saving ideas?

When someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” do you have an answer? Is it “the same old?”

The Traditional Recipes Collection is here to help.

With 17 books, over 800 recipes and ideas, worth over $150 for just $14.97, this collection is an amazing deal. It’s available through 11:59 PM ET on Saturday, Sept. 21. There will be no late sales. Please see the fine print at the bottom for all sale details.

With one simple purchase, you can get access to 17 different books from prominent and up-and-coming real food bloggers. There are books to teach you how to include more healthy ingredients, how to save time, how to save money, how to create food that goes with you, how to make desserts and holiday dishes, and so much more.

View the FAQ.



kitchen help

Kitchen Help

main dishes

Main Dishes


Snacks and Sides

Desserts, Baking and Special Occasions


Bonus Offers

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Simple natural health Simple Natural Health by Nina Nelson of Shalom Mama. Keep your family healthy this winter not only with food, but with homemade remedies.
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In addition to the already awesome package we have here, one lucky reader is going to get the chance to win a Healthy Surprise box! If your family struggles with snacks, this company offers packages of healthy snacks that are delivered to your door once a month. There are three box sizes with different amounts of snacks in them. These snacks are all allergy-free (top 8), grain-free, vegan, and mostly organic. They’re appropriate for almost any family!

No purchase necessary to enter.

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View the FAQ.

Offer Details

  • Sale runs 9 AM EST Sept. 17 through 11:59 PM EST Sept. 21
  • No late sales
  • Buyers may be from anywhere in the world; but books are only in English
  • There are no physical/shipped products; the bundle offer is digital only.
  • Download links are good for 5 attempts or through 10/31/13, whichever comes first.
  • Bundle may not be downloaded and links cannot be re-activated after 10/31/13
  • Bundle files may not be shared. Each book may be on only one computer/one residence at once
  • Buyers are permitted to share books if they send files they do not want to one other person and delete the files themselves, so only copy of each is in use
  • If buyers split the bundle, they only get one set of bonus offers and must share
  • Bonus offers must be claimed by 9/30/13
  • Bonus offers may not be available in non-U.S. areas
  • Bonus offers are made through a third party and we do not have any control over them. Items may be unavailable or sales may end without warning
  • By purchasing, you are certifying that you have read and agree to these terms and conditions


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