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Biggest Bang for Your Buck: Whole Chickens and Weekly Lunches

Posted Jan 27 2013 10:08am

I mentioned in one of my last posts  I make a big batch of soup on Sunday for the week’s lunches for me and The Hubs.  Soup is not only easy and an efficient way to make a ton of meals at one time, but it is also economical for us.  I work in the Seaport District in Boston, and until recently there were very few lunch spot options available.  However, even with the recent surge in development in the Seaport, the lunch time options are still fairly slim if I want to look for something affordable.  Even by just buying soup I can expect to spend about $4.50, plus any additional cost if I end up with extras such as fruit or sparkling water—multiply that by 5-workdays and then by 2-people, we’d be looking at about $45.00 every week if we bought our lunches.  Talk about a waste of money!

Fit Moms & Full Plates: Roast Chicken

Fit Moms & Full Plates: Roast Chicken

Depending on what kind of soup we make I can usually get us to around $20.00 max for the week for the two of us—that is a savings of around 50%.  Buying whole chickens when they are on sale (and putting them in the freezer if you bought in bulk) is a great way to bring the cost down.  I have an abundance of whole frozen chickens from our summer CSA share (we would get 1 large or 2 small each month) so I haven’t had to buy chickens for any of our soups yet.  Whole chickens are very versatile—did you roast one for dinner?  Save the carcass and put it in a stock pot to simmer on low for a few hours and you have a tasty, rich, and 100% NATURAL chicken stock with no added sugars or preservatives.  I freeze mine in Ball jars so that I have small batches available to me without needing to thaw a giant portion.  Alternately, if your soup has chicken meat in the recipe, boil the whole chicken to cook the meat and then return the stripped carcass to the pot for a further simmer to make your stock.

Fit Moms & Full Plates:  African "Peanut" Stew

Fit Moms & Full Plates: African “Peanut” Stew

Many of my soup recipes contained beans, rice, or pasta and now that I am eating mostly Paleo (and doing the Whole30), I am finding that I need to modify the recipes to omit those items.  One such example is last week’s lunches.  A couple weeks ago I was talking to one of my friends at work and she mentioned that she just came back from her home in The Gambia in West Africa.  She was talking about how her family uses peanuts in a lot of their cooking and that their favorite dish to share is Peanut Soup.  I told her how I LOVE peanut soup—she was shocked that I even knew what it was!  Since then I had a hankering for peanut soup and modifying it for Whole30 compliance wasn’t very difficult.  By subbing cashews and almond butter for the peanuts, and omitting the rice and inserting broccoli instead I ended up with a hearty, delicious soup that fed my cravings for African Peanut Soup.What is your favorite soup?  What do you plan for lunches during the week?  In what ways do you use whole chickens?

African “Peanut” Soup

Makes 10-portions

Ingredients:

  • 32-oz chicken stock
  • Meat from 4# whole chicken, cooked and cubed or shredded
  • 2-sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2-bell peppers, diced
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1-large sweet onion diced
  • 3-cups broccoli florets
  • 2-Tbspn fresh, minced ginger
  • 5-cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼-cup whole cashews
  • ¼-cup almond butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-Tbspn chili powder
  • 1-Tbspn ground cumin
  • Coconut or olive oil for sautéing

Preparation:

In a large stock pot sauté garlic, ginger, and onions until translucent.  Add diced tomatoes and juice to deglaze the pot, scraping any ginger or garlic that may have stuck to the bottom.Add almond butter and stir to melt and incorporate.  When incorporated, add the remainder of the ingredients, reserving the cashews.  Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 30-minutes (or until sweet potatoes are fork tender).  Add cashews at this time and any additional salt or pepper to taste.

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