Chicken is possibly the most versatile of all the meats. It is cheap and there are a number of different cuts from it that vary in cost and in nutritional content. Overall, it is a low fat food that is high in good quality protein that won’t cost the Earth. Which cut of the meat you will want to choose will depend upon what meal you are making, as well as your own calorie needs, budget and personal preference.
Chicken breast is the lowest in fat of all of the cuts of chicken. Unfortunately that means it also has less of the fat soluble vitamins, and less iron than the darker meats do. Still, as a part of a balanced diet, it’s an excellent choice.
The down side to chicken breast is that is it the most expensive of the cuts. Bought fresh, you are looking at paying a minimum of £3.30 for enough to feed four, and that can rise quite substantially depending on where you shop, and whether or not you choose organic.
The cheapest way to buy chicken breasts is as a pack of frozen. Farm Foods sells 1kg bags of either whole frozen breast fillets, or frozen breast mini fillets (which cook far quicker) at a cost of 3 bags for £10. That is 6 generous meals worth for a family of four, for just £1.67 per meal for the meat. Halving the cost of your meat is a substantial saving over the cost of a full meal.
Chicken quarters are comparatively cheap, but thanks to being bone in, they give less meat per serving than breasts do and hence you need more. Being darker meat, they have more iron but also more fat than breasts do. They are available at a reasonable price, fresh, from many stores including Aldi and Lidl.
Thighs and wings are even cheaper, but given the size are slightly more fiddly to cook and prepare. They cook quickly though and are ideal for serving as finger foods for those that want them. Again they are dark meat so have more fat, and hence calories.
Whole chickens are an excellent purchase. On average, a small to medium bird will cost you around the same as a pack of fresh breasts will, but will give you far more meat overall. And when eating a little of both the white and the darker meat, you get a good balance of the nutrients and fat, making it a more well rounded meal. As far as value for money is concerned, this is the best way to purchase your chicken as it will not only give you potentially several meals (if buying a large chicken) but also the carcass from which to make the stock for soup, should you desire to. It tends to be the cheapest way to buy chicken by weight, other than buying frozen breasts.
Some cuts of chicken will be better suited to some recipes than others, and to your time schedule and budget too. Shopping around will help you to best match up your meat to your needs.