Roasted Chicken 11-29-08For years my husband and I bought lunch meat every week and packed our sandwiches for work.  While we were making a smart financial move by packing our lunches rather than eating out at work and school, we were still spending more than we needed to by buying lunch meat at a cost of $4.99 per pound to $6.99 per pound.  We did try to cut costs by packing egg salad sandwiches occasionally and peanut butter and jelly, but lunch meat was a regular staple in our diets.

In recent years, thanks to my soy intolerance, we have stopped buying lunch meat and have instead begun to rely on fresh meat, which offers us a substantial savings.  Just last week I was able to buy organic free range chickens from Whole Foods for $1.99 a pound.  I bought two whole birds for approximately $7 each, spread a dry rub on them, and cooked them in the slow cooker.

We will use the meat for a variety of meals including:

-a simple taco meal of roasted, shredded chicken meat mixed with salsa and served on tortillas with shredded lettuce, tomato and avocado

-chicken salad sandwiches

-chicken breast sandwiches, and

-chicken soups, to name a few

In addition, we will take the bones and skin and use it to make homemade chicken stock.  One batch easily makes 12 cups, which is the equivalent of 6 cans of chicken broth, and the broth is much more flavorful than canned broth.  Just recently I read that you can use the bones and skin twice, to make two batches of chicken broth.  Using this method, my two organic free range chickens will yield 48 cups of chicken broth (the equivalent of 24 cans) and at least four meals for the five of us and several lunches for my husband and son.

Compare this abundance of food to two pounds of lunch meat, which would cost the equivalent of two of the chickens I bought.

Beyond the financial savings, one also needs to consider the health advantages.  Lunch meat is packed with sodium nitrates, which have been linked to heart disease and diabetes.  Martha Grogan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist explains, “Sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease.  Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.” (mayoclinic.com)  In addition, canned chicken broth, even if you buy the low sodium version, also contains a great deal of sodium.

By buying organic chicken to use for sandwiches and making homemade chicken broth, I not only save quite a bit of money, but I am able to feed my family healthier food without added preservatives or sodium.  Who says healthy eating has to be more expensive?

Photo courtesy of stevendepolo.

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