Using a cash system and counting my pocket change led me to some different options for making inexpensive meals (see other posts in this series here). Necessity is the great inventor, isn’t it? One of my favorite ways to make frugal meals is using organic chicken drumsticks from Trader Jo’s. These are inexpensive, and I will buy packages of them to keep in the freezer every time I shop there.
Now, I know I have readers who only buy the very best chicken, which (in my opinion) would be chicken raised by local farmers who fed them not only an antibiotic-free, organic diet, but also allowed them the freedom to “pasture” and eat their natural diet of bugs, grubs, and greens. Extra points if these farmers used a soy-free feed for them. I LOVE these type of chickens, as they taste rich, and are so much more flavorful then most chicken ¬– even organic store-bought. In my area, these types of chickens are generally available from anywhere from $3.50 a pound (when buying a lot of chickens at once from a local farmer during butchering time) to $6 dollars a pound. $5 dollars a pound would be the typical price I see. That makes a smaller sized roast chicken about $20+. Because this is a bit expensive for many of us (or at least it is for me!), I’ve learned how to stretch these delicious chicken out into more meals (more about that in another post). If this is the only chicken you are comfortable with, or can tolerate, there are plenty of ways to make this option more frugal by spreading it out in many dishes. I’ll do a post on that too.
But, when a Trader Jo’s was brought to our area, and I had the option of buying organic drumsticks for such a great price ($1.99 a pound), I decided to take this option and use it to my advantage. On the scale of poor to excellent in food choices, I consider this a “good” or “very good” option. By using this frugal option in a variety of ways, I’ve been able to keep up a good amount of protein in our diets – an important thing to do, as well as help make pots and pots or nourishing soups for us.
So with that long introduction done, let’s go to some frugal dishes and ideas you can use to utilize drumsticks!
1. Lemon Garlic Drumsticks: I always, always get requests for this recipe when I bring it for a potluck or bring it to a new mom. It is simple, yet so flavorful!
2. Teriyaki Drumsticks: This is a real favorite for us (I used wings in the recipe pictured, but I generally use drumsticks). Serve with a side of steamed vegetables and rice or quinoa.
3. Make it into chicken broth. I make all sorts of chicken broth with a wide variety of ingredients. But my favorite remains my recipe that uses a combination of leftover roasted chicken bones and fresh chicken drumsticks. It has a good gelatin quality, and excellent flavor. However, I will also make pots simply using raw chicken drumsticks too!
4. Make soup without premade broth using chicken drumsticks. The first recipe I used this method with was my chicken noodle soup recipe. In my soup cookbook. Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons, I utilized it in several other recipes as well, including my Chinese Congee. This allows me to make a nutrient dense soup from scratch even when I don’t have homemade chicken broth on hand. (I re-use the bones when making another, long simmered chicken broth too!). I can literally take my frozen chicken legs, stick them in a pot with the other ingredients and have a nourishing homemade soup and hour or so later. This is not only incredibly frugal, but is has saved me many a dinner where my other meal plans went awry (or I just didn’t have dinner plans!).
5. Use drumsticks to feed a crowd. Since drumsticks are so frugal, they make a great choice when serving food to a crowd. I know that many of us who are on a budget but want to feed guests healthy food, struggle with meal ideas. I have found that dishes using drumsticks are always popular, and fairly frugal too! I generally plan on about two drumsticks per person.
6. Drumsticks make great freezer meals. Before freezing you can pour the teriyaki marinade or the lemon garlic sauce over the chicken drumsticks. When you need a meal, you can pull them out of the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator for a quick and frugal meal.
7. Use drumsticks to make a nourishing meal for a new mom or family in need. It is good to be generous with the food you share with others. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to make delicious and nourishing meals to bring to a new mom, or a family dealing with a crisis without breaking your budget. Using drumsticks to make a nice meal that is still nourishing and frugal has helped me.
Do you have any favorite frugal drumstick recipes to share? I’d love to hear.