How to Stretch Roast Chicken into 7 Meals

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A great tutorial on how to stretch roast chicken into 7 meals and save tons of money.

How To Stretch Roast Chicken Dinner

It takes longer to write out how to stretch a roast chicken than it is to actually do it. In this week’s Meal Plan Monday, I mentioned we would be turning our roasted chicken into a “rubber chicken” to get our money’s worth in meals.  A member of our Frugal Crew community, Noelle (Hi Noelle!), mentioned she wasn’t sure what size bird to get because she usually only gets 2 meals and a lunch out of her “rubber chicken.”

The size of the bird is more important when it comes to the time it takes to cook it ( I try to stick to 6 pounds), but the real magic trick is to allot the right amount of meat to each meal. Today, I’m going to share how to stretch roast chicken into 7 meals.

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Roast Chicken Dinner Into 7 Meals

Day 1 dinner: Roast Chicken with roasted potatoes, and an easy veggie

The best way to make sure you get enough chicken this first night, without depriving your next meals of meat, is to carve only half of the chicken. I carve off one breast, one leg, one wing and whatever tidbits fall off on that side of the chicken.  I lay them all on a platter, and slice the breast right before serving.  By slicing the breast, you prevent your biggest “meat eater” from grabbing the whole breast and going to town. If they have to take pieces of it, they are more likely to only grab a few pieces. Plus, they can see that there are other parts of the chicken to choose from, so they may not want to chow down on just white meat.

If you place cut up potatoes under the chicken while it’s roasting, you automatically get a flavored starch that will be done when your protein is done.  I cheat with the veggies and just microwave some frozen ones or I buy a few carrots and roast them right under the chicken. If you can, save one small carrot for a task you’re going to do later. Doing this with the carrots and potatoes tend to pay off later in the week to make another great meal.

Work After Day 1

Once dinner is done after day one, cut off the other breast and get ready to get your hands dirty! The best way to get off the rest of the meat on the chicken is to pick it all off with your hands. Don’t forget to get under the chicken as well; there’s valuable meat located under there. Place your leftover carrots in a small tupperware and your leftover potatoes in another.

Once you pick all of the meat off of your roast chicken, put the carcass into your slow cooker with:

  • A handful of whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a cut onion
  • a celery stalk (optional)
  • cut up carrot saved from yesterday

Place on low and let simmer for the rest of the night. When you get up in the morning, you’ll have the easiest chicken stock ever made! Strain the stock, and place in a tupperware before getting ready for your day. Once you are ready to leave for the day, it will be cool enough to put in the fridge. When you get home, you can freeze in ice cube trays, in smaller tupperware containers, or use it in the meal for Day 2.

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Day 2: Soup and crackers or rolls

The best part about the meal in day 2 is that if you want to add chicken to the soup, you can, or you can decide to do without and still have a hearty meal since you are making it with homemade chicken stock. I have a few soups I can choose from, like mexican chicken and corn soup.  I also use the roasted potatoes for the tator soup, just to get even more flavor in the meal. 

If I have time, I’ll put together a dough for homemade rolls, but if I don’t, we’ll eat the soup with crackers. Easy yeast pan bread is a great quick bread to make if you have about 20 minutes to spare. Only use half of your stock for this meal; you’ll need the other half later in the week. While the soup is simmering, cook some white or brown rice to use for tomorrow’s meal.

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Day 3: Chicken Fried Rice

Now, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that my fried rice tutorial has not only gotten me out of sticky situations, but so many others have used it and realize how easy it is once you know the steps to making it the right way.  Fried rice is usually a mainstay on “rubber chicken” week since I don’t have to use much meat. Keep in mind that the healthy amount of meat per person is about the size of the palm of their hand. That’s all. I know, doesn’t seem like a lot, and it isn’t, but we Americans tend to eat too much meat in the first place. I digress, though.  I like to use a cup of cubed white meat per person and half a cup of meat per child. This is still a bit too much, but we’re trying to yield some leftovers here. Use the rice made yesterday, along with the rest of the goodies listed on the fried rice recipe, and follow the steps. Dinner will be done in 20 minutes, tops!

Day 4: chicken casserole

Whether you decide to do a baked casserole, or a stove top one, this is yet another easy meal that you can make in minutes. This is when I use most of the dark meat because you want the chicken flavor to infuse in all of the bland parts of the casseroles, and white meat just doesn’t cut it. Plus, if you are worried about calories and fat, you don’t need to use as much meat in these dishes, so a small amount of dark meat will be perfect.

If I have some potatoes left over, I take a bit of white meat and a bit of dark meat, chop the potatoes even smaller, add a chopped onion, and make a chicken hash right on top of the stove. To make it even more decadent, I fill small bowls with hash and top each one with a fried egg. This is also the time to bring in a Mexican dinner. Tacos would be really easy, or even some chicken burritos. An enchilada bake would be great to have. You can prep it at the end of Day 3, then pop it into the oven when you come home.

Day 5: Pizza night!

There should be a little bit of white meat left to use in another meal.  Whether you make your own pizza or buy a frozen pizza from the store, adding that last bit of chicken to the top with a bit more shredded cheese (if you have it) will stretch that pizza even more!

This cream of carrot soup has a homemade taste, but can be made in just 15 minutes! Check out the protein-packed secret ingredient.

Day 6: Meatless soup night

Bet you forgot all about those leftover veggies from day one, huh? Well, you could have placed them in the soup from day 2, or in the casserole from day 4, but why not make them the star in their own soup on day 6? The best is using the roasted carrots for this.

My cream of carrot soup recipe is killer for this day, because it can be made in the blender and the addition of sour cream can be done or omitted (if you don’t have it in the house).

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Day 7: Leftovers Night

Make this your “leftovers day” and take a break. You should have a good amount of leftovers by this day to let everyone fend for themselves. If you want to make it a bit more special, you can at least make a dessert, but it’s not necessary. You’ve done enough.

If you are dying to make a real meal this night, I highly suggest a large tray of nachos. We love to do nacho night as our last night, because everything that’s in the fridge, excluding any leftover soup, can be placed on top of the chips and baked. 

Bonus Tips To Stretch Your Roast Chicken Dinner

If you need lunch meat, use half of the second chicken breast and slice thin after day 1. That should yield you lunch meat for one person for the rest of the week.

If you like more of a salad for lunch, take that same half of the breast, cube or shred it.  It will make a great topping to your garden salads for the week.

When making the stock, put in a splash of vinegar into the slow cooker.  The vinegar helps to bring out the calcium in the bones and makes your stock a great source of calcium for the week!

That’s how to stretch roast chicken when you’re on a tight budget. Still not convinced? Try this routine with 2 roasted chickens instead of 1. Eventually, you’ll get down to only 1 roast chicken once you see how to strategically use the meat.

Other great meals for your chicken: spaghetti with chicken as the main protein, chicken and pasta bake (mix cubed chicken and pasta together with spaghetti sauce, place in casserole dish and top with cheese), Italian tomato soup with chicken, or black bean soup with shredded chicken.

This post may contain affiliate links, but I promise not to get rich off of them ;).

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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  1. 11.11.09
    kc said:

    Thanks for sharing, I don’t think we can stretch our chicken that far around here. DH would definitely balk at me limiting the chicken.. but you have some GREAT ideas for me to try!!!!

  2. 11.11.09
    Amiyrah said:


    I in no way expect anyone else to do what I do with my “rubber chicken” but I at least wanted to let you all see how I try to stretch it when I roast our chickens. Some roasts I can get almost 8 meals out of, while some I can only get 2 or 3 meals, including the soup night with no meat whatsoever. Also, keep in mind that this is a great plan to use when roasting up those cheap or free turkeys during the holiday season!

  3. 11.11.09
    Noelle said:

    Thanks for such a great, detailed post! Unfortunately, like KC , I would not have much success with limiting my husband on chicken.
    However, I think I’ll be trying some of those recipes in the near future!

    Have you ever tried roasting 2 chickens in the oven at the same time? ???

    Thanks, again!

  4. 11.11.09
    Amiyrah said:

    Nope Noelle, i sure haven’t. I’d rather roast a big turkey instead lol

  5. 11.11.09
    Noelle said:

    Right-o! Especially since we’ll be cashing in on some FREE turkey at SR soone!

  6. 11.12.09
    jebanyj said:

    Thanks for the ideas! No way I could stretch it that far with a family of 5! I usually get 2 good meals plus a soup meal out of a chicken. mmmm…. makes me hungry šŸ™‚

  7. 11.12.09
    Lucky said:

    My husband is our resident chicken carver, so you can imagine how that goes…

    Great ideas though. I’m going to try your fried rice next week.

  8. 11.12.09
    kc said:

    Hi Noelle,
    I just tried roasting 2 chickens last week.. it ended up taking at least an extra longer than the receipe I found online, which I mistakenly didn’t anticipate. I did though pull off all the left over dark meat on the 1st chicken (since we ate most of the white meat) and then all the meat off hte 2nd chicken and froze it for chicken noodle soup a few days later. I also made my own broth with all the leftover bones and junk that night (which was a mistake, should have refrigerated overnight because I was up until 11 to let it simmer long enough and then strain and cool it down) Anyway, I love this post because its exactly what I need to try and do (well not as extreme as 8 meals!), but its so perfect for my current train of though!! Thanks again 4hats!!!

    Oh and I plan on trying the chicken broth (with one chicken) in the crockpot idea.. another way to avoid staying up super late!!!

  9. 11.12.09
    Noelle said:

    Thanks for the note KC!
    Sorry your chicken was bawking all night šŸ™‚

  10. 11.12.09
    Amiyrah said:

    Thanks for that note, KC. I was beginning to think I wrote that whole post for nothing lol. Glad you all at least got a few tidbits from it :o)

  11. 11.14.09
    Anonymous said:

    Did you really mean a half of a cup of salt for your broth??? That sure is alot of salt. I use maybe a half of a teaspoon and it seems fine. Ive been “rubber chicken-ing” for years now…..I love the convenience as much as the frugality!!

  12. 11.14.09
    Amiyrah said:

    Nope, I meant 1/4 cup and kosher salt at that. NOT table salt. Yes, you really do need that much when making your own or you end up adding lots of salt when you cook with the stock later. It really isn’t that much. I tried using only a teaspoon or two and it always tasted like dish water to me.

  13. 11.16.09
    Lucky said:

    Just wanted you to know that when I grilled some chicken breasts yesterday, I cut them all up before DH could get to them, and used the extras for our lunches today and will make fried rice tomorrow. Not exactly a rubber chicken, but I thought of you all the same.

  14. 8.25.10
    Becki D said:

    Daaaang, woman!

    You are a professional dinner-maker! Totally awesome. You should have dinner-on-a-budget boot camps for those of us used to a little more indulgence. I would love to be able to make do with less. Wow!

  15. 1.13.19
    Courtney said:

    I have been thrifty for as long as I can remember and rarely find new ideas. I have stretched food many times but your method is fantastic! Thank you! I am going to try this with my family soon. I appreciate the step-by-step instructions!

    • 1.16.19
      Amiyrah said:

      You’re welcome, Courtney!

  16. 11.9.19
    Sandy said:

    Thank you for sharing these great tips. Iā€™m going to try this!

    • 11.11.19
      Amiyrah said:

      You’re so welcome!

  17. 9.20.20
    Emily said:

    I often do similar to this. With a family of 6 (including 2 near teenagers) I usually only get 3 or 4 meals from a chicken, but still some great tips I’m going to try out.
    Also, I have 2 cats, so once I’ve boiled up the carcass for stock (along with a bag of carrot, onion and celery peelings that I keep in the freezer ready for the next time I make stock) I pick the cooled, boiled carcass over really well and usually get at least 4 portions of meat bits off for the cats, mixed with a little stock they love it, and it saves me a bit on wet cat food

    • 9.20.20
      Amiyrah said:

      Very smart!