Food values & stretching your dollars
This started out as a comment in frugal_living, but I decided to post it here also. (Note that my game plan assumes a basic ability to cook and some pantry supplies.) One of my favorite ways to eat both good and cheap is to buy a roasting chicken when it goes on sale for.99/lb. A chicken around 4 pounds equals $4. (If your store carries fatter chickens, grab them, but the ones around here generally put the skinny birds on sale.) Roast the chicken as usual, adding some whole cloves of garlic (.33 if you don't have any lying around) and putting potatoes around it ($1) to cook in the juices. (Add lots of water and baste regularly.) Frozen vegetables on the side (.50) and you have a lovely dinner. Pick the chicken carcass clean of meat and put the bones into a pot with water to cover. Onion skins, carrot peelings and celery leaves if you've got them, and it simmers into a nice broth. Strain and pick the tiny shreds of meat out. Add some noodles (homemade or boughten), some more frozen vegetables, and you have a tasty soup. Meal #2--our cost is up to maybe $6 if you sprang for the fresh carrots & celery. We still have the meat we picked off the carcass, plus the drippings (did you make gravy?) from roasting. The meat will make one set of chicken sandwiches on either boughten or homemade bread. Meal #3, and it's $7 now. We're not done yet. To use up the last tiny scraps of meat, bring out the drippings or gravy and some frozen mixed vegetables ($1 on sale). Dice up the meat to about the same size as the vegetables and make gravy if you haven't. (If you did make gravy, save back some broth from the soup and use it to thin the leftover gravy.) Cook the vegetables in the gravy until they're done and add the meat. You can now either serve it over hot biscuits, noodles or rice....or put it in a casserole, top it with a piecrust and bake it until the crust is done for chicken pot pie. Meal #4, and I'd say all four meals cost $10 at the outside. Your exact costs may vary a little, since I used Southwest WA prices, but this is an excellent way to get many meals out of one small chicken.