Julie Anne: Personal Chef Approach member, Rachel Cree-Lowe is our resident expert in saving money without sacrificing quality. I often use chicken breasts in my recipes, because they are the white meat, therefore the lowest in fat and calories, and they cook the quickest. Rachel kindly wanted to share another of her grocery budgeting tips by deboning breasts herself, with all of you!

Julie Anne Rhodes

Julie Anne Rhodes

Rachel: Let me preface this by saying: I’m a vegetarian and not an expert at deboning a chicken breast but I do like to save money and my family does eat chicken so that means… I needed to learn.

Buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the grocery store or butcher is easy way to save prep and cooking time. How much time, you ask? About five minutes. The difference in cost? A boneless, skinless chicken breast costs me $5.89 a pound at the butcher. A bone in chicken breast is just $3.89. The cost difference makes it much more attractive for me to get a bone in, skin on chicken breast and roll up my sleeves for a little work.

Orange Glazed Chicken made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Orange Glazed Chicken made with bone-in breast

The first time I did this, I just stared at it for a bit, completely lost as to what to do and to be honest, a little queazy. When roasting or grilling the chicken, it’s best to leave the skin on and bone-in for flavor and retaining the juices that keep it moist, plus I’m told the skin is the best part (you can remove skin after cooking if you are watching your calorie intake). Cooking with the bone-in will take a little longer than boneless, however since the white meat is low in fat, timing is crucial – if you overcook they will become dry. Just make sure the internal temperature is 165° F and you’re good to go.

Cashew Chicken with boneless, skinless breasts

Cashew Chicken with boneless, skinless breasts

When sautéing, poaching, or doing stir-fries you’ll want the chicken off the bone, and it really isn’t as hard as you may think. Be sure to start with a very sharp knife. It will make the task much easier (and accidents are more likely to happen with dull blades). I like to use a plastic cutting board, so I can toss it in the dishwasher to be sure all contaminants are washed alway afterwards, and of course be sure to wash your hands well after handling raw chicken.

How to debone a chicken breast

How to debone a chicken breast

The first thing I do is pull off the skin,  but that can be left until the last step. Place it skin side down on the cutting board and start at the thickest end of the breast.  You can see where a thick bone starts. A whole chicken has a bone running “vertically” down the center of the chicken breast. When the breast is split, this bone is either on one side or the other. Cut down along this bone in a sort of scraping motion staying as close as you can to the bone itself and hold the meat back gently with your other hand. Trim all the way down to the end and set aside the bone. At this point, you can trim away any fat, and if you haven’t already done so, remove the skin.
Save the bones to make stock for soups and sauces

Save the bones to make stock for soups and sauces

BONUS TIP: Don’t throw the bone out – it’s perfect to make stock with. If you only have one, toss it in a freezer proof bag and keep adding to it until you have enough to make some stock.

Julie Anne: Thank you so much Rachel! Breaking down a whole chicken can save you money too, plus it allows you to use just the amount you need for one meal, and you can freeze the rest for a later date. Breaking down a chicken is a bit more complicated (and I admit I prefer to buy mine already done), click the link for a great demonstration on how to do-it-yourself.

Chicken Sheers

Chicken Shears

BONUS TIP: Chicken shears will make breaking down a chicken much easier both before or after cooking. They are one of the “extra” (not necessary) tools I like to keep in my kitchen arsenal.

For those of  you who decide to buy your chicken already cut, using the Personal Chef Approach will still save you much more than the cost of membership when you shop once a week with a well organized grocery list, buy only what you need, and cook everything at once (while it’s at it’s freshest), so nothing ever goes to waste.

Even if your plans change last minute, you can pop those make-ahead meals in the freezer for a later date. Click on the video above to learn more about how it works. Meanwhile, here’s one of my many recipes you can use your newfound deboning skills on.

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

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