Seduced by a chicken

Who hasn’t been seduced by the golden brown ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken? No matter how enticing, I’ve often wondered if this was a good deal—both nutritionally and financially. So I did some investigating and experimenting to satisfy my curiosity. Here is what I learned:

  • these chickens are usually sold by the “piece” not by the pound—it may look like you’re getting the same amount, but the starting weights (and the net weights) of rotisserie chickens vary. Learn the sizes for the chickens in your local stores or ask at the counter. You can also ask your kids to pick out the biggest one!
  • costs also vary from store-to-store and doesn’t appear based on the size of the chicken. Prices I found ranged from $4.29 to $7.99 each.
  • one chicken usually feeds 4-6 people. On the average, a 3 pound roasted chicken should yield 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds of boneless meat or about 50%.
  • seasonings and added ingredients on rotisserie chicken also vary from store to store.
  • the nutritional basics of protein, fat, calories and cholesterol in a rotisserie chicken are similar to a home-roasted chicken. The major difference, however, is in the sodium content in a rotisserie chicken.

When you’re hungry (and don’t have 2 hours to roast a chicken) a rotisserie chicken dinner, along with a plain baked potato and salad can be a better choice than eating out. And you can use the bones to make a great broth for soup. If your store lists the sodium content of the chicken you can determine if this is a good choice.

It is easy to make your own roasted chicken. In upcoming articles (5 total) we will explore the costs of cooked chicken and how to make your own.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

3 Easy Ways to Save Money When Grocery Shopping

Shopping smart can help you save money on fuel and food!

Between rising gas prices and food costs, consumers these days are feeling a crunch. The Department of Agriculture predicts a 4% to 5% increase in food prices this year, and the largest increases are forecast for fats and oils, estimated to rise 8% to 9%, and cereals and bakery products, projected to jump 7.5% to 8.5%. Gas is already edging closer to $4 per gallon. Here are 3 tips to help you save money, yet still eat healthfully.

1. Shop less frequently.

One way to save time and lower food costs is to shop less frequently. Fewer trips means less money spent on impulse decisions, as well as less money spent on fuel (and other transportation costs) that you use  in order to get the store. Plus, shopping less frequently will save you time. Who doesn’t want to ease a busy schedule?

2. Stock up on low-cost frozen and pantry items, especially when they’re on sale.

Foods for the pantry and freezer have a much longer shelf life than refrigerated items. Frozen foods, canned goods, and bulk pantry items also tend to be bulky and take more time to gather, especially since you have to push the cart all over the store. It is more efficient to buy more of each product all at once, so that you don’t have to repeat the same dance week after week. By stocking up a lot on freezer and pantry items at a discount store (or when you see them on sale) you can save serious $$$. Once you have a good stockpile, weekly shopping becomes much easier. You can simply dash in to the local market for a few fresh produce and dairy items.

With food costs on the rise, it makes sense to stockpile foods. Buying now gets you today’s prices.

And if you stock up on MyPlate foods, you are more likely to prepare and eat healthful meals at home instead of eating at restaurants and drive-thrus all the time. Foods prepared at home are often healthier and lower in calories than restaurant foods, and you spend less on transportation if you stay home as well.

Try these great pantry and freezer items. Remember to steer clear of added sugar and sodium.


  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes and veggies
  • Canned tuna
  • Fat-free dry milk powder
  • Jams
  • Lentils
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta and whole grain pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Rice and brown rice
  • Soups


  • Bread (whole grain)
  • Chicken
  • Egg whites or nonfat egg substitute in cartons
  • Fish and seafood (not breaded)
  • Fruits
  • Lean meat
  • Seafood
  • Turkey
  • Vegetables

3. Choose less processed foods.

By purchasing items that are less processed, you will spend less money and buy items that are often much healthier. For example, by choosing whole potatoes instead of potato chips or frozen French fries, you save a lot of money per ounce. You also reduce fat, sodium, and calories as well! Not convinced? Check out the price per ounce for each of the following potato products…

  • Baking Potatoes                      $0.06 per ounce
  • Frozen French Fries               $0.13  per ounce
  • Frozen Mashed Potatoes        $0.13 per ounce
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes        $0.21  per ounce
  • Potato Chips                           $0.32 per ounce

The processed items (in italics) are at least double the price of the plain potatoes.

Budget Shopping for a Healthful Lifestyle

It really is possible to save money while you shop, yet also purchase healthful foods that are good for you and your family. Here’s how…


  • HEALTH: Always buy 100% whole grain bread.
  • BANK: When bread goes on sale, stock up and freeze the rest for later.

Canned Goods

  • HEALTH: Try to choose items that nave little to no added salt, or at least reduced sodium.
  • BANK: Store brands, when they’re on sale, are the best value. Stock up when you see them.


  • HEALTH: Oatmeal is one of the healthiest choices because it is a whole grain and has no added salt, fat, or sugar. The same is true for shredded wheat.
  • BANK: Stock up when items are on sale. You can generally get items more cheaply when you buy in bulk.


  • HEALTH: Rice is a very inexpensive option that is also low in calorie density. Of course brown rice is best (being a whole grain and all) but white is not such a bad option, especially if that’s the only kind of rice your family will eat.
  • BANK: Look for sales on store brands and stock up when prices are good.


  • HEALTH: MyPlate calls for most people to eat about 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies each day.
  • BANK: Farmer’s markets and local stands often have the best prices on fresh, seasonal produce.
  • BANK: Watch local papers for grocery stores to offer sales on produce. When that happens, you can really get some great deals.
  • BANK: Choose fresh foods when they’re in season. This will offer the best value, and it’s fun to have a change of pace.
  • BANK: Don’t buy too much produce. It’s tough to use everything before it spoils. If you end up with more produce than you can eat, cook and freeze some soups to use up the extra.


  • HEALTH: Choose lean, cook lean and use portion control.
  • BANK: One word helps here – sale!
  • BANK: Use smaller quantities of meat.
  • BANK, HEALTH: Of course the cheapest protein item is also the healthiest and highest in fiber – beans.
  • BANK, HEALTH: If you don’t have a lot of time, cook lentils.
  • BANK, HEALTH: If you do have some time, consider cooking and freezing larger batches of dried beans.

Beware of these pitfalls

  • Expensive items include soda, chips, cereals, cookies, crackers, and convenience meals. These are also calorie dense.Try to limit these treats to just one per week – you don’t need to fill the cart with them.
  • Shopping without a list is dangerous because you might neglect some items that you need to prepare a healthful meal, while splurging on others that aren’t good for your budget or your health.
  • Shopping when hungry is also dangerous — it leads to way more impulse purchases, and they’re often not the healthful kind.