Deboning the chicken myth
DEAR SARA: We eat a lot of chicken, but sometimes it can be expensive. I usually buy the boneless, skinless breasts when they’re on sale. I came across a sale on chicken with skin and bone in on for only 99 cents a pound. I always figured that wasn’t a great deal, because you’re paying for the skin and bones, too. I bought a family pack for $4.40, and it had six big chicken breasts in it. The chicken I usually buy is about $8 for five breasts. Do you buy the cheaper chicken and go through the hassle of prepping? Is it worth it? — Angela, California
DEAR ANGELA: I rarely buy boneless, skinless chicken. It’s too expensive unless it’s on sale, so I’ll buy with the skin and bone in. I sometimes remove the skin and sometimes not. It isn’t difficult or time-consuming to prep. I just grab a corner and peel back. I rarely debone prior to cooking. I wait until after it’s cooked because the meat separates easily, but if you have a quality butcher knife, you could do it yourself. I consider boneless/skinless a convenience food. I realize some people think deboning and skinning is a hassle, but considering it takes under five minutes, I’ll bust that myth.
I also buy whole chickens. I get two to three meals from them and can use the carcass to make soup. If your family doesn’t mind dark meat, then I suggest you occasionally purchase less expensive thighs and legs, too.
Your local meat market can be your new frugal friend. Give them a call and see what deals they can offer you on a long-term basis. I love mine. The service is great, and they’re competitive with grocery store prices. I call them with my list, and they package and cut my meat and have everything ready for me.
DEAR SARA: Do you bother returning anything to the store if it’s under $5? — Chris via e-mail
DEAR CHRIS: Yes. I try to wait and not make a special trip because of the price of gas, but I do return items for under $5. It’s more wasteful not to return the item if you can’t use it. I’ll bring receipts to the customer-service desk for price checks. Many stores will adjust prices that have been lowered in the past 30 days. I’ll return items that have been overcharged for less than $5, too.
DEAR SARA: What skills do you have and think are important? I read a book on traditional American skills. I looked through it, and wow. The average American today knows how to shop, use a computer and not much else. All the skills that were considered necessary years ago are pretty much lost. — C. Brungardt, Massachusetts
DEAR C.: I enjoy learning both old and new skills. There are many such as beekeeping and tanning that I haven’t done but could learn. I bake bread, preserve food, garden and can do various handcrafts, such as rug hooking and crochet. There are many lost arts and skills that I enjoy but wouldn’t do regularly because there are more cost-effective alternatives. I can make pasta and grind grain, for example, but it isn’t something I care to do daily.
Some skills I consider modern-life skills, such as cooking from scratch, gardening, fishing, camping, mending, cleaning, repairs, first aid and balancing a personal budget. I focus on teaching these skills to my children first because they will be most useful to them. Years ago, people had to have different skillsets to survive. Many of these skills aren’t absolutely necessary anymore but can still be rewarding.
photo by roytsaplinjr