My family is a family of eaters. I prefer eating organic meat and poultry but given how much our family eats (my toddlers eat as much if not more than I do on a daily basis), I buy non-organic everything else in order to save some dough. We get the majority of our groceries from Costco and go to Wegmans for the weekly round-up of fruits, veggies, milk and other random things. Thankfully Costco sells organic chicken (I am sure there's even better organic chicken out there from local farms but I don't think I'd be able to keep up with the ordering, picking up and probably smaller portions) ;)
I grab a few of Costco's whole chickens every time we go because there couldn't be an easier, more affordable way to have a bunch of chicken on hand for the meals we eat during the week. On Mondays usually I'll empty out the defrosted chicken's gizzards (I think that's what that bag inside of the chicken is called), rinse the chicken, plop it in my crock pot and turn it on low for 5-6 hours. That's literally all I do. MAYBE I'll sprinkle some seasonings on it and MAYBE I'll take the skin off beforehand if I don't plan to make chicken broth afterward. But usually, the chicken goes naked into my crock pot. I do this because I'll be adding it into fajitas or casseroles later on and just flavor it then, depending on the dish.
*If your crock pot doesn't have a wire rack like mine, on which the chicken rests (so that it doesn't cook in the bubbling chicken drippings, supposedly that's unsanitary), then you can crumple up 4 or 5 foil balls and rest the bird on the foil balls.
The chicken cooks on low for 5-7 hours, depending on the size of the bird or until the chicken doesn't look pink.
On a rimmed cutting board I separate the skin and bones from the meat and there you have it...a TON of chicken that feeds my family of five for two maybe three meals. If you want shredded chicken (if you plan to make chicken salad or a casserole), then put the chicken into your kitchen aid mixer and with the white mixer blade it's perfectly shredded in seconds.
Last week I used the chicken to make fajitas and chicken salad. Visit my pinterest board titled "chicken dinners" for more ideas on what to make with the chicken.
THEN, if you feel really motivated and want your house to smell like Boston Market for just one more day, instead of throwing away the chicken bones and drippings, make homemade chicken broth. I really recommend doing this if you have little ones during flu season. Homemade chicken broth really helps reduce inflammation if you have a cold or virus.
Put the bones back into the crock pot, add 1.5 quarts of filtered water and a splash of white vinegar (it helps extract all the minerals from the bones and put them into the stock) and turn your crock pot on low for 8 hours, or overnight. If you have leftover vegetable scraps like celery roots, carrot stems or onion scraps, throw them in there as well for added flavor and nutrition. Then, use a strainer to strain the liquid from everything else, distribute the liquid into freezable containers and make sure to cool the broth in the refrigerator before you try to skim off the fat that collects on top. You can keep the broth in the refrigerator for a few days or store it for longer in the freezer. It's great to have on hand for soup but I use it most often when I cook rice and quinoa.
I call this stuff "liquid gold" during flu season