Have you ever heard of the book The Way They Learn?* Well if you haven’t, it’s a super interesting read. I bring it up to say that when I took the quiz I was strongly random (as opposed to sequential), which I think is why I like doing unplanned random posts so much. :)

Right now I have chicken in the oven similar to this one at Tammy’s Recipes. I want to see how many meals I can get out of one whole chicken. I’m thinking 3-4 meals, but we’ll see. This kind of chicken would be perfect for sandwiches, quesadillas, tortilla soup and parmesan and basil chicken pasta pictured below.

I’ve been continuing to get some swagbucks *each day, I now have more than enough for another $5 gift card from Amazon. I like to save those gift cards for when I see things like toilet paper go on sale at Amazon then put the gift card towards it.

I’m working on a crocheted blanket using up some random pieces of leftover yarn, hoping I have enough to make a decent size afghan. No matter the size, it will be a colorful one! :)

I know I said I’d have more posts inspired by our simple living/practical skills classes, and I do have some more in mind, just haven’t gotten around to posting them (because I’m a random ya know). But if you missed any before here you go:

What random things have you been up to?

*Amazon affiliate link and swagbucks referral link.



One of our very generous staff families said that if we wanted to learn how to butcher a chicken and do one from start to finish then we could take it home! So I learned how to make an alive chicken become a tasty one sitting on a platter on my table….

First catch it (this is the only step I didn’t do, Cameron caught it for me).


Next place it head down in the kill-cone. Slit its throat on both sides until you get the arteries. Then let it sit awhile in the cone to allow it to bleed out. This is a nice humane way of killing the chickens.


Now dunk it 5 times (Gracia counted for me) in a hot bath of water. This helps the feathers come out easier.


Pluck by hand….


…or use this handy-dandy pluck-o-matic machine:




Now place in water.


If you’re butchering a bunch you can have 2 tubs of water, one of regular water and one of ice-water to put the chickens in while waiting to be cut up.


Either gut the chicken to eat whole (that’s what I did with mine), or cut the wings, legs and breasts off to cook in pieces. Sorry, I didn’t get pictures of the cutting/gutting steps.


Last, but definitely not least, cook and enjoy!! I was going to wait to post this until I cooked it and had a picture of the roasted chicken, but I’m too excited to wait for that! How many of you raise chickens or other animals to eat?




Protein is so important in our diets, but it can also be one of the most expensive parts. So how can you get enough protein without breaking the bank?

Beans & Legumes

Beans are a staple here at our house! Bean burritos are my go-to quick meal and lentil and bean soups warm us up in winter. A bag of dry beans just can’t be beat! Take a look at the nutrition info on the bag of beans and you’ll see protein, fiber, vitamins, and very little fat. Plus beans come in such a variety of shapes, sizes and colors! Black beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas lima beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, various lentils, and the list could go on..

You can use beans to cut back on meats by either replacing the meat in a meal with beans, like bean burgers, or by using the beans to stretch the meat, like using beans to stretch the meat in chili.

Bean Recipe Ideas:
Basic Bean Cooking and Freezing
Crock Pot Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Stretched Taco Meat
Crock Pot Savory Pinto Beans
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Bean Burgers

Beans are a perfect low-cost source of protein!

Other Vegetarian Options

Okay, so I  mentioned beans and legumes, but if beans aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other options. Eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts and seeds are great protein sources. Try quiches, egg burritos, smoothies, or sunflower seeds sprinkled on your salad. Check out this list of  fruits and vegetables high in protein…a few of them really surprised me!

No-Bean Meatless Recipe Ideas:
Spinach Mushroom & Feta Crustless Quiche
Veggie & Cheese Pizza
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Try tomato or avocado added to them!)

Hunt, Fish or Raise Your Own Meat

This isn’t an option for everyone, but even if it is, make sure you don’t spend more on tools and equipment than you save in meat. We’ve  received quite a bit of free venison from people we know getting more deer than they need and generously giving us some. It’s been a huge blessing to us!

Another option, if you want to raise your own, but can’t is to purchase a side of cow. I’ve never done this but you can go to this article to read more about it. I imagine you could also do this for pork and other animals.

Recipe Ideas for Venison:
Venison Steaks
Roast with potatoes and carrots
Stew with a variety of veggies
Kabobs (especially if you marinate them for awhile before cooking)

Buy Meat On Sale

Some cut of meat is pretty much always on sale at your local store, if it happens to be the kind of meat you like, you could always plan that week’s menu around it or buy extra to freeze for future use. For example, if whole chickens are normally 99 cents a pound in your area, but you see them go on sale for 79 cents a pound (20 cents less for every pound), you could decided to cook up a whole chicken that week, or buy a couple of chickens for the freezer to tide you over until the next time they go on sale.

Other options are to buy meats with price matching, if you know of a good sale at another store. Just make sure to check your store’s policy. You can also keep a look out for “reduced for quick sale” meats. I used to buy hamburger a lot at Sam’s Club this way. As long as you cook or freeze it soon after, it’ll be fine.

Purchasing sale meats and freezing them in individual bags can save a lot of money!

Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat

Even with sales, there are certain cuts of meat that are usually cheaper than others. For example, whole chickens are a lot cheaper per pound than t-bone steaks. At our house we eat a lot of hamburger meat, whole chickens and chicken breasts (even though bone-in breasts are cheaper, I usually opt for the boneless skinless kind).

Canned salmon is a great way to get cheap fish. Canned salmon is really healthy with omega-3, and doesn’t have as much mercury as some other types of fish. We’ve used canned salmon for salmon patties and salmon melts.

Canned salmon is a cheap way to buy fish.

Stretch Meat

You can easily stretch the meat in recipes. I’ve started putting black beans in chicken tortilla soup to stretch the chicken, or make your layer of meat thinner in shepherd’s pie, but add a thicker layer of mashed potatoes. I like to make my taco meat half with hamburger meat and half with black beans.

Stretching Taco Meat with Beans and Potatoes

Serve an Abundance of Sides

Let’s say you’re making roast for a crowd, you can make sure to add lots of extra potatoes and carrots to help fill everyone up and stretch the meat.

Only have enough hamburgers for everyone to have one, but you’re feeding some hungry teenage boys? Serve up plenty of home-made oven fries or another filling side to guarantee they don’t go away hungry!

Lots of carrots and potatoes help stretch roast!

Make Broth with the Bones

When you’re done with your meat, don’t toss the bones, instead use them to make a hearty broth perfect for soups, stews and even casseroles! Sometimes I make chicken broth at the same time as cooking the chicken. Recently I read an interesting article about how important bone broths are for the health of your gums and teeth! Talk about a healthy reason to not waste bones!

How do you get protein without spending an arm and a leg?

This post is linked at Frugally Sustainable.




When I had Parmesan and chicken pasta on my menu plan a reader asked for the recipe, so here it is! I got it from the book Eat Cheap but Eat Well* by Charles Mattocks. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, so this recipe is actually my adaptations.


  • 12 oz. pasta (I used bow tie)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus a little extra)
  • 2 chicken breasts cubed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (after seeing the price of a block of Parmesan I decided to just use grated Parmesan, although the fresh stuff probably does taste better.)


  1. Cook chicken in a pan with a little olive oil and some seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder)
  2. While chicken is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and put it back in the pot, tossing with olive oil.
  3. Once chicken is cooked, mix it in with the pasta and add basil, Parmesan, and more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Enjoy!

This post is linked at Michelle’s Tasty Creations and A Thrifty Mom.

*Amazon Referral Link

Here’s a yummy marinade from my  mom. I did it with chicken breasts cut into strips, but you can also use beef.


  • 4 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (my mom said she’s used vinegar before if she doesn’t have any lemons on hand)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (or just use garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp. basil (I didn’t have any basil, so I used oregano)

They’re especially good if you marinate them for a day or two. You can cook them on the grill or in a pan on the stove top.


Discarded pieces of chicken all cooked up for the cat

Want a cheap way to feed your cat (or dog) something other than dry food, without having to buy those expensive tiny cans of cat food? I was trimming the fat off of some chicken breasts before freezing them and I decided the pieces I’d normally just throw out I’d cook up for our cat Fuzzy. So I did! And since the chicken pieces (mostly fat) would have been thrown out anyways, this was free! The only cost was the little bit of propane needed to cook it! =)

I’ve also given Fuzzy chicken skin and discarded pieces when I cook whole chickens.

My Chicken is Ready to Be Cooked

Of course there’s many ways to use a whole chicken, oven roasting, cuting it up to use the various parts in different ways, but here’s how I have started cooking my chickens. I got the basic recipe (I varied it a little) from my Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. It’s easy and you get broth from it too. Around here whole chickens usually run at about 88 cents a pound, but my last 2 I got for 79 cents a pound at Sams Club (reduced for quick sale).

So here’s how I do it:

  1. Open the package and drain off any liquid. Then just plop the chicken in your crockpot. (note: depending on the size of your crockpot you may need to only buy smaller chickens, mine ususally just barely fit)
  2. Wash and cut up some onion, carrots and celery (don’t forget to throw the celery leaves in too). Add them to the crockpot along with any seasonings you think would be good. I usually just add salt pepper and maybe a bay leaf.
  3. Fill the remaineder of the crock pot with water. Turn it on high or low (low cook 8-10 hours, high 5-8).
  4. Once it has cooked long enough and looks cooked through, take it out and let it cool a few minutes on a plate, so you can handle it.
  5. Now you need to seperate the good chicken from the throw away  parts (skin, bones, etc…). It comes off the bone super easy!
  6. Your chicken is done and now all you have to do is strain out the brothand you have chicken broth. I like to freeze the chicken and broth in baggies until I need them.

    Straining My Broth

The last chicken I did made about 5 cups shredded chicken and honestly I can’t remember how much broth, I think 3-5 cups.

Here’s a few random tips:

  • To waste less, save the chicken skin for your cat or dog.
  • This is a great way to use those veggies that are too limp to be yummy raw.
  • You can cook the chicken in a pot on the stove, it will go faster.
  • To make the broth less fattening, let it cool in the fridge until a yellow layer forms on the top (that’s the fat) and remove it. But honestly I never do this, I think the fat adds flavor.
  • You can use this shredded chicken in so many ways, but my favorite are quesadillas, sandwhiches and chicken tortilla soup.
  • My favorite ways to use the broth are to cook rice in it to add flavor or in chicken tortilla soup (can you tell that’s my favorite soup?)

The Shredded Chicken

Sorry all the pictures are blurry! I didn’t notice the blurriness until I loaded them onto the computer today.

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