Some people shy away from buying a whole chicken. Most recipes call for several breasts or several thighs, and it can be a little daunting to tackle the whole bird.

The price for a whole bird also seems high when you aren’t sure how to put all of it to good use.

The farmers in the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative raise their birds on pasture. When you purchase from them, you will be getting a beautiful bird that was well cared for and raised on a natural diet of bugs and grass supplemented with all-natural feed.

Today, I’m going to show you how to take a single chicken and lovingly prepare not one, but three meals to feed a family of four. All three of these meals are quick and easy and will help you stretch your dollar.

Let’s begin with a single whole chicken. I have selected one that is five to six pounds. I have already removed the giblets and the neck, which I am saving to use later.

Our first meal is a Cast-Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken. This meal is substantial for a family Sunday supper but also cooks fast enough for a weeknight meal. You can have this on the table in an hour.

I served the chicken with some roasted potatoes, hunters carrots, lima beans and rolls. I also made yummy pan gravy with the drippings.

For this meal we ate one whole breast, one leg and the wings. I removed the rest of the meat from the other breast, the thighs, back and leg and divided it into two equal portions to use for the remaining meals. The chicken carcass, the neck and the gizzards were used to make a hearty stock for the soup.

The next meal is Creamy Chicken Mushroom and Rice Soup. This hearty soup makes four large servings. A side of crusty bread and a small salad makes it a full meal.

Finally, we have Chicken Enchilada Empanadas. I served them with some chips and salsa that we picked up at our local Mexican restaurant.

The best part is that all three of these meals can be made from one chicken.

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken


  • One whole chicken, 5 to 6 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • poultry seasoning (I used Penzy’s Northwoods Seasoning)


  1. Place your cast iron skillet inside your oven and preheat both the oven and the skillet to 450 degrees.
  2. Rinse your chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.
  3. When the oven has reached temperature place 1 tablespoons of melted butter into the skillet. Carefully transfer your chicken to the skillet, placing it breast side up. Pour the remaining butter over the chicken and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning.
  4. Close the oven and walk away! It’s that simple. The chicken will be ready in about 45 minutes or when the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees.
  5. Allow the chicken to rest 15 to 20 minutes before serving with your favorite sides.
  6. Upon finishing the meal, remove all of the meat from the carcass for later use.
Creamy Chicken Mushroom and Rice Soup


  • 3 – 5 cups homemade chicken stock (See notes below.)
  • 8-10 ounces leftover chicken meat, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used porcini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms.)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cooked brown or wild rice


To make stock:

  1. Place the chicken carcass, the giblets, and the neck into a large stockpot along with several celery ribs, 2-3 carrots, 1 onion, peeled and cut in half, a few peppercorns, a few pieces of whole cloves and a bay leaf.
  2. Add water until the chicken is just covered. Cover and bring to a simmer. I like to cook my stock for about 24 hours to allow the bones to break down.
  3. Strain the stock and discard all of the bones and vegetable pieces.

To make the soup:

  1. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large soup pot.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft and cooked through.
  3. Add the garlic and the oregano and cook just a moment longer.
  4. Add the remaining butter and the flour and stir to make a roux. This will help make your soup thick and creamy.
  5. Slowly add the stock one cup at a time. Stir and allow the soup to thicken slightly before adding more liquid. Begin by adding three cups of stock. Save the remainder of stock until the end and only use if your soup is too thick.
  6. Next add the milk, rice and chicken. Bring the soup to a slow simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes longer.
  7. If necessary, add additional stock to thin the soup to your desired consistency. Any unused stock can be frozen for later use.
Chicken Enchilada Empanadas


  • 1 package (2 sheets) of puff pastry, thawed
  • 8-10 ounces leftover chicken, shredded
  • ½ cup enchilada sauce (We used green enchilada sauce.)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water, mixed in a small dish
  • sour cream, green onions, extra enchilada sauce for serving


  1. Before beginning recipe preparation, thaw your puff pastry at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into six equal pieces. You will have 12 pieces total.
  4. Combine the chicken, enchilada sauce and cheese in a bowl. Divide the mixture equally into the center of each of the 12 pieces of puff pastry.
  5. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with the egg wash and fold and seal by crimping with a fork. Place onto a baking sheet lines with parchment paper. Poke a hole into the top of each empanada to allow steam to escape.
  6. Brush each empanada with egg wash and sprinkle with a little extra cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with chips and salsa.

I hope you have enjoyed these three recipe suggestions. A whole chicken is quite versatile. What are your favorite ways to use leftover chicken?