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Chicken: Whole or Parts?
Old 04-01-2009, 06:17 PM   #1
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Chicken: Whole or Parts?

In another thread, Urchina mentioned the cost of chicken at Costco:

Quote:
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, $2.79/lb
Chicken thighs, $1.19/lb (bone-in, skin-on)
Whole chickens, $.79/lb (in a two-pack)
I've always wanted to compare the effective cost of these options, so today I cut up and weighed the parts of a chicken. I didn't do any boning, and the butchering was quick and easy. The results:

Whole chicken in package: 4.81 pounds
Neck, liver, pad, etc: .5 pounds
One drumstick+thigh: .66 pounds
One breast (almost boneless): .66 pounds
One wing: .25 pounds.

So, let's say you bought one whole chicken, but only ate the drumsticks, thighs, and breasts, and threw the rest away. With Urchina's prices, you'd essentially be paying $1.44 per pound.

That is:
Cost of chicken: 4.81 * .79 = $3.80
Weight of parts = 2.64 pounds
$3.80/3.14 pounds = $1.44 per pound

If you eat the wings too, the effective cost is: $1.21/pound.

----------------------------

My conclusion: if you eat all the meat, and use the carcass to make stock, buying the whole chicken is cheapest. Otherwise, the big packs of thighs is cheapest. The boneless/skinless breasts are relatively expensive.

This was a surprise to me. I expected that buying the whole chicken would be far more frugal than a pack of thighs, even if you only ate the best parts.
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Old 04-01-2009, 06:36 PM   #2
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Nice post. I've always wondered about that.

I can get boneless chicken breast here for $1.99 / lb on sale pretty much every couple of weeks. A whole chicken runs about the same $0.69-$0.79 / lb or so. Split chicken breasts are about $1.49 / lb. Based on those prices I kind of assumed the boneless breasts were the better deal (even if that is counter intuitive). Your math seems to suggest that is true after accounting for the weight of the bones.

However, if you use the innards and make soup with the rest, the whole chicken probably comes out the winner.
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Old 04-01-2009, 06:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
My conclusion: if you eat all the meat, and use the carcass to make stock, buying the whole chicken is cheapest. Otherwise, the big packs of thighs is cheapest. The boneless/skinless breasts are relatively expensive.
That's OK. I'll buy those packages of yummy, healthy boneless/skinless chicken breasts only. After all, SOMEONE's got to eat the breasts so that there are plenty of thighs left for our more frugal folks!
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Old 04-01-2009, 06:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
That's OK. I'll buy those packages of yummy, healthy boneless/skinless chicken breasts only. After all, SOMEONE's got to eat the breasts so that there are plenty of thighs left for our more frugal folks!

What she said.
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Old 04-01-2009, 06:48 PM   #5
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I just bought 4 Cornish hens today for $1.29 per lb. The mom-n-pop store I frequent had all the usual selections of chicken, none of which came within $0.30 per lb. I like these because the meat to bone ratio is higher than fryers.
My second choice is the whole roaster type chickens, if the price is right. These will be cooked whole, meat removed and frozen for later use. The savings here is in the lower energy cost for a one-time cooking session.
Next choice is the prefrozen bonelss skinless chicken breast from WallyWorld or Aldi's. 100% meat and no weight factor for bones.
I buy whatever is the best deal at the time, in multiple packages. Saves me time and gas also.
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:23 PM   #6
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I tend to buy large packages of the boneless skinless breasts for $1.79 on sale ( I'll repackage them into individual servings ).I use that in recipes much more than the other parts . Occasionally I buy a whole chicken when they are on sale but otherwise we seem to have a lot of waste with them unless I do soup and that is a winter only item . I do buy the thighs for the grill occasionally .
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
My conclusion: if you eat all the meat, and use the carcass to make stock, buying the whole chicken is cheapest. Otherwise, the big packs of thighs is cheapest. The boneless/skinless breasts are relatively expensive.

This was a surprise to me. I expected that buying the whole chicken would be far more frugal than a pack of thighs, even if you only ate the best parts.
To make the comparison "breast to breast"; did you take all the skin off from the whole chicken parts?

I usually buy the Walmart skinless/boneless chicken breasts 48oz $6 $2/lb
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:31 PM   #8
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Just depends on what I want to do.

Whole chicken with rosemary salt & pepper for roasting
Boneless skinless for stir fry or salads
Thighs for the grill (consistent size is easier to grill)
Whole wings for parties

All chicken is bought on sale and frozen till needed. Last month I got 3lb bags of tenders for $1.30 a lb. That was less than the boneless breasts! There are still 2 bags in the freezer.
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:37 PM   #9
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Usually buy whole chicken from locals. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts? What's the point?

I like a bit of skin and bone and gristle.

YMMV.
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Old 04-01-2009, 07:48 PM   #10
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Usually buy whole chicken from locals. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts? What's the point?

I like a bit of skin and bone and gristle.

YMMV.
How much prep time you put into it Khan

Sometimes i like it done for me. Specially if I am entertaining.
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:16 PM   #11
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Here is a formal analysis of the chicken or the parts dilemma:

http://journals.tubitak.gov.tr/veter...24-0212-31.pdf



Table 1 shows the relative percentage weights of the various parts as follows:

Table 1. Proportion of average carcass weights and part weights (%).
Group (g) Whole (g) Neck Wings Fillet Thighs Drumsticks Bone Back
<1200 1101 6.70 12.57 21.88 15.21 14.18 8.31 21.14
1200-1399 1303 6.88 12.19 22.06 15.76 13.97 8.20 20.95
1400-1599 1491 6.38 12.00 22.93 15.55 13.73 8.00 21.41
1600-1799 1690 6.34 11.82 22.95 15.71 14.20 7.78 21.21
1800-1999 1890 6.50 11.41 23.62 15.90 13.87 7.57 21.12
³
2000 2060 6.63 10.84 23.95 16.08 13.62 7.65 21.25

General 1582 6.55 11.85 22.86 15.70 13.96 7.91 21.17

It was surprising to me that the back and bones comprise nearly a third of the weight of the bird.

The conclusion of the article is that for all but the smallest birds, a retailer can increase their income by cutting up chickens.
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazy [LEFT
connie[/left];802613]Whole wings for parties

By the way I made your wing recipe for a party and got rave reviews !
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
My conclusion: if you eat all the meat, and use the carcass to make stock, buying the whole chicken is cheapest. Otherwise, the big packs of thighs is cheapest. The boneless/skinless breasts are relatively expensive.

This was a surprise to me. I expected that buying the whole chicken would be far more frugal than a pack of thighs, even if you only ate the best parts.
Come to my country. We buy whole (possibly) free range chickens from the local Hutterites (Hutterite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). No necks, no guts, a buck a pound.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:12 PM   #14
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I generally buy boneless/skinless chicken breast at Costco for $2.49/lb. Only buy that when I'm out and nothing else on sale. These I have to repackage as there are too many in one pack. Our Publix grocery meat dept has the best deals when they have a sale and then I stock up. $1.99/lb and they come three half breast in a pack. Generally $3 per pack. Nicely trimmed of the fat. I might buy $50 at one time. They just opened a Save-a-Lot grocery store close by that always has this chicken for $1.88/lb. Looks good and not too much in the pack. I'll have to try it.
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Old 04-01-2009, 09:30 PM   #15
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Boneless, skinless, chicken breast = Boring. Might as well eat Tofu if your looking for healthy. Give me chicken meat with skin & bones, baked or grilled. Yummy!
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Old 04-01-2009, 11:35 PM   #16
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Whole chickens for eating as chicken. Boneless breasts for $1.79 when on sale (quite often in LA) for use in salads, stews, or sandwiches (cut in half the hard way). I cook breasts to 145 degrees internally instead of the 165 or so recommended to keep them tender and juicy.
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:01 AM   #17
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I read that there's a glut of chicken breasts in the US because the dark meat of the chicken, which is preferred worldwide (except in the US) is exported overseas to foreign countries for higher profits. The Americans like breast meat, so the price is jacked up because of demand so the profit margin is greater than for the same weight dark meat. Just as an aside, we're going to raise our own free range chickens for consumption. The majority of the chickens sold in the supermarket are termed "frankenchickens" because the are a hybrid that matures in approximately eight weeks and must be butchered at that time because by that age they begin having heart attacks and their legs break due to their rapid excessive weight gains. Sounds gross to me!!!!!!! But nothing a little ketchup won't fix!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ha.
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
To make the comparison "breast to breast"; did you take all the skin off from the whole chicken parts?
No I didn't take it that far.

LeatherneckPA was raising chickens -- he hasn't posted for a while.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:07 AM   #19
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The lady across the back fence grew up in the restaurant business and always overcooks for husband and family.

Today we get fried chicken plus side dishes - leftovers as it were.

Free is best.

heh heh heh - otherwise the current SO is whole chicken(makes stock for chicken Gumbo) or thighs - sans any numerical calculation. . Me in my by myself mode - Popeyes or KFC. .
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:30 AM   #20
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Around here buying a whole chicken is not the cheapest option - remember you're paying for the higher-priced breast meat as well. The least expensive option we have is bulk packs of leg/thigh quarters, which are usually on sale for $0.38/pound. The boned thighs sub in well (better, actually) for boneless breasts, and the bones can be used for stock.

The latter should also be considered. If you cook regularly using stock or broth, the cost of canned or boxed stock should be considered as well. If we're really being frugal, we will be using the entire product rather ignoring the carcass or bones and the meat left on them.

For my money, the sweet spot is thights - good yield, inexpensive, and you get bones for stock. When boned and butterflied, they are a great alternative to dry, tasteless chicken breasts.
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