Chicken is every cook’s best friend, for one simple reason: versatility. Whether you crave exotic flavours or simply want to experience the smell and taste of home-cooked comfort food, there’s a recipe for you. At the grocery store, we strive to provide as much choice as possible for Canadian consumers, from a whole chicken to make the most of a budget, to boneless, skinless chicken breasts for those who need to get a healthy meal on the table quickly. We also provide a number of choices for consumers, from traditional, to organic to free-range. As with any choice, the most important part is understanding all the options. So let’s talk about a few of the options you’ll see at the grocery store or butcher shop.
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are one of the most popular options at the grocery store because they require little work to prepare, are low in fat, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. They are perfect for a quick dinner, or when you’re adding chicken to a complicated dish. While definitely a timesaver, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are typically the most expensive way to buy chicken.
Bone-in Chicken Breasts
Bone-in chicken breasts are slightly less expensive than the boneless variety but they only take a few minutes to prepare. You can buy bone-in chicken breasts, either with skin on or off, and while getting rid of the skin certainly cuts down on the fat, you can still keep some of the flavour that comes from the skin by removing the skin after cooking. For a simple method of deboning a chicken breast, check out the videos located in our technique section.
White meat is by far the most popular type of chicken sold in the country but because chicken thighs contain much more moisture, they can withstand longer cooking times. This makes them a great option for grilling or stewing. You can buy them bone-in or boneless but because they don’t have the star status of the chicken breast, they’re usually quite a bit less expensive, and can be bought in large packs. If you’ve been avoiding dark meat because of nutritional concerns, take a look at our white meat vs. dark meat nutritional showdown where we compare the two head-to-head - you might be surprised by the results.
If you’re a connoisseur of wings and are making your own, you’ll have no problem starting with fresh chicken. Since whole chickens only have two, you’d need to go through a dozen or so before you had enough for a pound of extra-hot wings. In this case, buying them cut and in a package is easily the more economical way to go. Want some tips on how to prepare whole wings for the best chicken wings you’ve ever had? Check out our technique section for a video. [this will link to the wings video]
Kids love drumsticks, and just like wings, if you have a house full of people who love dark meat on the bone, buying your chicken packaged this way is ideal. It’s slightly more expensive than buying a whole bird, but the prep is done for you, and it reduces waste.
Bar none, the least expensive way to purchase chicken is to buy it whole. You can either choose to prepare the whole bird by roasting or cooking on a rotisserie, or cut it into pieces and cooking it. You can debone the meat or leave the bone in for presentation. As an added bonus, the leftover carcass and bones can be used to make home-made stock that we guarantee will taste better than anything you can get off the shelves. For more on how to make chicken stock, visit our techniques section for some video tips.