Want to make chicken stock but don’t think you can afford good quality chicken? Buy chicken thighs (bone-in) and drumsticks. These pieces are quite inexpensive. Conventional health tells us to avoid dark and red meat. So over the last few decades, meat producers in the U.S. have put a premium on white meat – which is actually the least healthful. Dark meat is actually better for you to eat because it contains more of those all important nutrients found in poultry (see below). If you can get your hands on chicken organ meats, those are also cheap, and extremely nutrient-dense to use in soups, stews, casseroles, and any other dish which has a lot of ingredients in it (think hiding the organ meats in these meals).
Once you have let your bones soak for an hour or so in filtered water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, add in all your other ingredients: butter or ghee, onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like. I frequently use any combination of the following: parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, or basil. Here’s a post about making bone broth.
If you are feeling adventurous, find a farmer who will give you or sell you some chicken feet. Yes, chicken feet. These are incredibly cheap and fantastically abundant in minerals, amino acids, gelatin, and collagen – which helps your whole body and especially your skin, eyes, and bones. You can add these into any chicken stock after cleaning them and clipping off the nails. Some people don’t clip them off, but I do since toxins can collect in them (such as arsenic).
Is all chicken created equal?
Unfortunately, no. You will get the most nutrition from chickens (or any poultry) raised on pasture, without antibiotics or feeds which alter their nutritional composition such as corn, and grain (and are likely to be sourced from GMO – genetically modified organisms). You are also going to get 3-5 times the amount of nutrients like CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Read this informative article from Eat Wild to learn more about the benefits of grass-fed and pasture-raised.
Sources for chicken:
Ideal - pasture-raised direct from the farm – may also be organic (ask local farmers or go to your farmer’s market) see this post about deciphering egg and poultry labels
Better - Pasture-raised chickens from local grocery or health food store – may also be organic
Acceptable - commercial and grocery store organic, “cage-free”, or “free-range”, omega-3 chickens. Many of these are also raised on feedlot premises, but may be antibiotic-and chemical (pesticides) free.
Avoid – conventional poultry from the grocery store which likely is raised on a feedlot, usually administered antibiotics, usually exposed to pesticides/herbicides, and most often given corn, soy, and grain as main source of feed.
Deciphering egg and poultry labels
More money-saving tips:
Waste not, want not: tips for saving in the kitchen
3 tips for eating organic on a budget
Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!
Food budgets- using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating