What to do with a Whole Chicken Besides Roasting

Are you looking for ways to save money on food or your grocery bill? Feeding a family can add up in a hurry. Even though my kids are all under the age of 12, they already eat a lot. Therefore, any kind of tips I can find on feeding my family a lot of food on a tight budget, I’m using them!  Have you ever wondered what to do with a whole chicken?  Making multiple meals from one chicken is one way I can save money on my grocery bill.

multiple meals with one chicken

Meat is pretty expensive these days. I actually wrote a post about how to save money on meat because it can really take a chunk out of the budget.

We usually use meat as a stretcher food, and not as the main event. What I mean by that is that we don’t usually have a piece of meat, like a chicken breast, or a steak along with some potatoes and vegetables. Instead we often divide up the meat into small pieces and add it to meals like stir fry, soups, stews, pasta, chili, pot pie, or whatever else we think of.

We get a lot of whole chickens around here because it can stretch far. Whole chickens and pork loins on sale are my go-tos when it comes to what kind of meat I want to buy that is affordable and versatile.

I will say though, this past year we raised our own meat birds for the first time. We didn’t process them ourselves the first time around, but we did bring them to a local butcher to be processed. I couldn’t believe how amazing the meat tasted, and how big the chickens were.

Once we ran out of our own broilers that we raised I went to the store and bought a whole chicken. I couldn’t believe how little meat there was on it! I hadn’t noticed as much before we entered the world of raising our own meat, but now I couldn’t believe the difference I was seeing.

However, I realize not everyone can raise their own chickens for meat. Before we raised our own chickens for meat we still stretched the meat we got on a grocery store chicken – just not as far. But, if you are careful, you can still get 3-4meals out of a whole chicken from the grocery store.

Some have the ability to stretch their whole chickens even further, but my family eats A LOT and so I find we typically get 3 meals out of our chickens, however with the chickens we raised ourselves we are able to often get 4 meals.

When the kids were smaller I was able to get 4 meals out of a grocery store chicken, but as they’ve grown the grocery meat birds just don’t seem to stretch as far as they once did. I’m probably going to even struggle even further in this area when my kids become teenagers!

Whole chickens are also a great thing to buy when you need a break from cooking for a night, but want to save money. Many grocery stores sell already cooked, hot and ready chickens for you to pick up and bring home to eat.

If you are looking for a night to have take out (which is totally okay once in awhile) think about grabbing a pre-cooked whole chicken. That way on the night you buy it you can eat some of it with some bread and salad, and then you can use the rest for multiple meals. That’s stretching your take-out splurge!

Also, did you know you can cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot?  If you want to be cooking chicken in record time, it may be time to invest in an Instant Pot, like this one here.:)

So, let’s talk about how you can stretch a chicken for multiple meals whether it be 2, 3, 4, or even 5 meals.


On the first night you want to cook up the chicken any way you prefer. I did share a post awhile ago about how to cook a whole chicken if you haven’t done it before.

It can be a little intimidating to cook a whole chicken if you are new to it, but I promise you, once you do it you’ll discover it’s actually quite easy.   You CAN roast it, but you can also toss it in a crockpot too.  But after roasting it, I’m going to share here what you can do with it besides just eating roasted chicken.

Now, after the chicken is cooked and you’ve let it cool a bit you will strip it of all the meat. I’ll put the meat aside and take the bones of the chicken, and the juices from the chicken and put it in either my slow cooker, or a big pot to make chicken stock.

You can read on how to do that here, but it’s actually quite simple. All you need to do is cover the chicken bones with cold water, add some vegetables like celery, carrots, and onions, sprinkle a bunch of salt and pepper in it, add some parsley if you want, and let that stock cook ALL DAY.

Once the stock is done you’ll strain it and then put it in containers that are safe for the freezer. Now you can grab this stock for any soup you want to make, or if you have a recipe like stir fry or rice that calls for broth. Homemade broth is so good for you. You can even just drink a mug of it straight if you are feeling under the weather or just enjoy the taste of homemade broth.

Now, for the rest of the meat, I’ll usually divide it into two or three different portions, depending on how big the chicken was. I might freeze these portions if I don’t think I am going to use them in the next few days, but if I know I am going to make multiple dishes with chicken that week then I’ll just keep them in the fridge.

Your portions may be different, but I often portion mine out to around one cup of chicken. I can use that in a meal if I’ve used a lot of vegetables and/or noodles and everyone will feel full at the end of it.  For many of the recipes below I often add less chicken than what it calls for.


PANCIT. This is one of our new favorite dishes. All you need is some noodles of some kind (we use chow mein but many recipes call for rice noodles) cabbage, carrots, soya sauce, and chicken. We love to top ours with squirts of fresh lemon. We love this recipe.

BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA. My husband and I love this dish. You can use this recipe for the pizza dough part, but instead of the regular pizza sauce toppings, use BBQ sauce, chicken, marble cheese, and red onions. Sometimes I’ll add abit of spinach and pineapple too.

CHICKEN FAJITAS. Add some red, yellow, and orange peppers and some onions, mix in some spices like chili powder and cumin and saute it all together, and you’ve got fajita night! For a more precise recipe, check this one out.

SPINACH TORTELLINI SOUP. The recipe I have posted for this soup does NOT have chicken listed in it’s ingredients, but we’ve definitely added chicken to this soup before and it is so delicious. The chicken just adds an extra heartyness to the soup that is perfect for those rainy or cold days.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP. I mean, you had to know this would be on the list, right? The classic chicken noodle soup is a great way to use meat from a whole chicken. Try out this recipe.

CHICKEN POT PIE CASSEROLE. I much prefer chicken pot pie in casserole form. I don’t know why, but it always feels easier to make this way. Probably because I don’t have to worry about shaping the pie dough to look all pretty. Nonetheless, whether you like your chicken pot pie in a casserole or in an actual pie, it’s a great way to stretch your chicken. Check out this recipe here.


If you can make your grocery budget go a little further it can really help you live within your means. Using meat as a stretcher food is a great way to make this happen. Other foods that can be used as stretcher foods are things like rice, potatoes, oats (you can add them into things like meatballs, etc.) and beans.

Whole chickens are one of my favorite options when it comes to what kind of meat to use that is affordable and can go a long way. Plus, most people like chicken! Ir’s one of the few meals I can make that everyone in my house loves, including all the kids.

Do you have a favorite dish you add leftover whole chicken to? I’d love to hear what it is in the comments below.

How to make Multiple Meals from One Chicken
Article Name
How to make Multiple Meals from One Chicken
Make your grocery budget stretch by making multiple meals from one chicken.
Publisher Name
Simple Life of a Frugal Wife

4 thoughts on “What to do with a Whole Chicken Besides Roasting”

  1. The Pancit recipe sounds good. I was not familiar with this dish so I am exited to try it!

    A whole chicken is like the Energizer Bunny in a household of two. Some of it ends up in the freezer which is also a good thing.

    1. I had never had Pancit till I made it earlier this year and frankly, I was shocked my whole family loved it. I was sure my kids wouldn’t like it due to the cabbage and soya sauce but they loved it. It’s really quick to make too.

      I can imagine a whole chicken could stretch pretty far in a household of two. Weirdly enough, I don’t think I started making whole chickens until I had kids! I guess I just never thought about making one before then. 🙂

    2. Have always done this! We get our chickens from a farmer as well so we usually get some good sized birds. The initial cost might seem more (closer to $20 a bird) but you can usually stretch the meat to 4 or 5 meals. I also use the same idea for a ham . I buy a large bone in and we can usually eat off of it for a good part of the week and still use the bones for pea soup(my mother in law always gets those bones) since pea soup is not my favourite.

  2. Hi Amanda! I bought a cooked chicken in our local store for $12! We had sliced roast chicken with all the trimmings for supper. I boiled the carcass and made stock … we’re having chicken noodle soup with crusty bread tomorrow. We had the pancit which was lovely, BBQ chicken pizza made a really nice change from the usual Canadian or 3 meat that we usually have! Finally tonight we had the chicken pot pit as per recipe in your link … LOVED them all and cannot believe we got all these suppers and hubby even had a chicken with stuffing sandwich for work! Thank you! P.S. I got the gamma seal bins and turned out the 30lb one actually took the whole 44lb bag of flour so I was able to store all my sugars, and specialty flours in the second one I bought!

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