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organic living journey comparing chicken prices

The following is part of an Organic Journey Guest Post Series written by Amy, a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.

This week, I went on a literal journey.  Last week’s research led me to realize that I won’t be buying $1.99/lb chicken breasts anymore.  After calling several butchers and trying to price out chicken and getting less than great information, I figured the best way to gather info was to go to the stores.  I drove around to every local store in Atlanta I could think of, and today, I am sharing my findings with you.  Please know that prices can vary from one area to another, so this is just a launching point for those of you outside of Atlanta.

When you start shopping you have to know your budget and priorities.  Also, you really have to know your stuff.  Three different butchers that I talked to were misinformed about the products they were selling (one was even corrected when he went to a supervisor to have him explain it to me, which helped me to feel less like I was the crazy one!)  Several told me that there was no difference at all between organic and the antibiotic free, vegetarian fed chicken.  We have to know our stuff and be gracious with those who don’t.

Here’s where I went:  Sam’s, Costco, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, Ingles, Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, my local Farmer’s Market and two local butchers.  In the charts that follow, if a store isn’t listed, it is because my store didn’t carry that particular type of chicken.  Your store might be different.

Prices on Vegetarian Fed, Antibiotic-Free Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

Prices on Vegetarian Fed, Antibiotic-Free Whole Chickens

Prices on Organic, Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

Prices on Organic Whole Chickens

Yep, these prices are definitely higher than conventional chicken.  But, after all I learned, I think that it is worth it for my family.  Here are some tips to cut your costs.

Shop Sales

This month Fresh Market’s vegetarian fed, antibiotic free chicken breasts are half off their normal price on Tuesdays, and they aren’t the only ones who put their chicken on sale.  Once you figure out who carries what you are wanting to buy, look for when they put their chicken on sale.  For instance, Publix had their Greenwise boneless, skinless breasts on sale for $4.99 last week.  That is a savings of $2.20/lb.  Pretty significant stuff. We also occasionally see sales & coupons for Springer Mountain Farms brand.

Look for Markdowns

Fresh meat expires, and as it gets closer to its expiration date, butchers will slash the prices to sell it.  It doesn’t hurt to ask your butcher when they typically mark meat down, or if you are a bit more introverted, just get in the habit of checking for marked down meat each time you shop.


Chicken freezes wonderfully, if you find a good deal, stock up!  I found more and more chicken brands are moving to a new type of packing that is freezer ready.  Happy day for less freezer burn!

Buy a Whole Chicken

Did you notice how much cheaper whole chickens are per pound?  I must admit that I hate, absolutely hate messing with raw meat.  True confession, my husband browns all ground beef in our house (he’s a saint).  In this journey, I’m becoming a big girl though.  Just last week, I seared all sides of my chuck roast. One small step for most, one gigantic step for this gal.  The more I learn though, I’m realizing that not only are whole chickens more cost effective from a price per pound standpoint, but it is easy to make stock from the bones.  This is my baby step (but man, it feels like a big one!)

Use Less Meat

It is easy to stretch our chicken (especially in all these southern comfort casseroles!) by adding more veggies.  For me, this means being willing to tinker with recipes and not seeing the recipe as rules for successful cooking, but instead to see them as suggestions to get me started.

If you are looking for pastured chickens, Whole Foods was the only store I found them.  They were priced at $4.49/lb for a whole chicken.  Local Harvest and Eat Wild are online gold mines to help you find pastured chickens near you if that’s what you are looking for.

What deals have you found where you live?  Any other tips to help us stretch our dollars on chicken?

    • TexLieb

      Or you can buy your chicken via Zaycon foods.

      I buy 40 lbs of all natural, no hormones/ antibiotic boneless chicken breast at 1.69 an lb. It freezes perfectly and my family can eat off of that for 3-6 months. They have ‘events’ where they sell all kinds of food at great prices.

      • rachel

        Zaycon chicken IS NOT ANTIBIOTIC FREE!!!!!!!! I ordered it once over a year ago and the meat was disgusting, frankstein sized breasts that needed to be heavily trimmed and then add the expense of the freezer bags, it wasn’t saving any money.

    • TexLieb
    • TexLieb

      I buy my hormone free, fresh, never frozen chicken breast with Zaycon. It comes out to 1.69 lb, and my family can eat off of it for 3-6 months. They do ‘events’ where they sell certain foods. It was been a huge blessing to buy food this way. Here is the link: https://www.zayconfoods.com/refer/zf98565

    • Lana

      Ingles frequently puts their whole Harvest Farms chickens on sale for 1.28. Lately it has been about every 4 weeks. At my Ingles the Coleman organic is sometimes the same price but not advertised. I always check for that before just grabbing the Harvest Farms. Also Ingles puts Coleman organic chicken legs on sale for 1.88 every 3 months or so.

      • Lana

        Also, don’t forget to make organic chicken broth from the skin and bones! Can’t beat the nearly free price of that!

        • amysanders

          Do you have a special recipe for stock? That is one of my big reasons for wanting to get the whole chicken.

          • TheChapLeigh

            I’ve googled this many times, to try & perfect my own recipe, as well as branch out to making pork stock & beef stock from our annual purchases of both pork & beef. Additionally, a group of us women just yesterday sat in a kitchen restaurant showroom, with the owner & chef of that restaurant — an amazing menu boasting of local fare — teaching a class on how to maximize your efforts in the kitchen, with the best ingredients, to make a huge variety of dishes. Long story short here, but he made his stock just like the majority of recipes I pulled up on google. Water, mirpoix (sp??), carcass (think “bones”, not just carcass, so you can use all those cut-up pieces instead of a whole bird), water, and an (optional) sprig of rosemary, & bay leaf. No salt. Slow simmer for a few hours — if you boil hard, it will get cloudy. Some people “crash” their stock, which means as soon as it boils, they dump that water out & start again with new water. You can do this, or just skim the scum off the top & keep going with the original pot of water. I don’t crash the stock, unless I’m making pork or beef stock, as those got real scummy for me. I’d read that you don’t want to stir or disrupt the stock when it’s simmering, or you’ll make it cloudy. Use a slotted spoon to get all the other stuff out (and crush up for your dogs if it’s really disintegrated & won’t harm them), then slowly strain either through cheesecloth or a colander, into a big bowl or pot. I will put this bowl or pot into a sink of icewater & quickly cool for the fridge (covered). The next morning you should see a (protective from bacteria) layer of fat — which I skim off when I’m about to pack into vacuum sealed bags. Save the fat to saute your mirpoix when about to make chicken soup… yum!! Hope this helps!!!

            • amysanders

              this is wonderful! thank you! do you just put enough water in to cover the bones? also how much of the celery, carrots, onions mixture? (i might omit carrots as i’m weirdly allergic to them) again, wish you were my neighbor! oh, one other thing, do you freeze your stock?

            • TheChapLeigh

              ugh — i just typed a whole response that got deleted by one wrong stroke on this new laptop of mine! Anyhow, 1:1:2 ratio of carrots, celery & onion, respectively. You can use leeks too. I do freeze my stock, in vacuum bags, laid down flat so that they are easy to both store in tight spaces, as well as thaw later on. As the chef guy said, you can’t really go wrong — “It’ll still taste better than that stuff in the carton!” I simmer, uncovered, all day to get out the nutrients in the bones, as well as to utilize my limited freezer storage space — you can always add more water later if needed. I use as much water as my pot will hold, since I’m simmering for so long. I have a baggie in my freezer that holds all the end pieces, or soon-to-go-bad celery/onions/carrots/garlic. I do the same for bones. When I’ve got enough, I make stock :) There really isn’t any way you can mess this up to the point that you can’t somehow use it — think of this as a good baseline for soups or dishes…. you add the spices later, and it will always give the dish more pizzazz than had you used water :) PS.I’d so love for you to be my neighbor — it’s so encouraging to find others who are on the same journey of learning & implementing all this — thankfully I’ve had some great resources around me, and a super-supportive husband who is just as passionate, if not moreso, than I about this lifestyle!

            • amysanders

              THANK YOU!!!!

    • TexLieb

      I use this website to buy chicken at 1.69LB. Fresh, hormone free, boneless chicken breast.

      • tori729

        Do you have to go to an event to get the food? I looked it up and there are no chicken events in my area listed at all.

    • katkoupon

      I feel for you about the raw meat aversion. I haven’t had it nearly that bad, but I get it. I’d like to think that this will get better for you, especially since you’re moving towards cleaner meats, as it did for me. During our transition from commercial meats to organic and/or pastured meats, we have noticed that the meats just aren’t as nasty (for lack of a better word). The pastured chickens aren’t slimy and slippery like the ones I used to buy for .99/lb. When I handle grass-fed beef, there is very little fat on my hands after, and it washes away very easily. With conventional beef, I’d end up with this thick layer of fat on my hands that took lots of soap & water to get off. After handling conventional meats, I just felt really grossed out. It’s now nice to handle a piece of meat and love the way it smells and not mind handling it. Good luck!

      • I agree, after switching if I try to cook with the regular meat it’s just gross to me, too.

      • amysanders

        So, you’re saying there is hope for me? ;)

      • sara

        I agree! So very true. And you now know that all of that nasty stuff isnt going to been in your body soon. :)

    • mamakat

      Earthfare has an email coupon this week for their brand of chicken breasts (family producer, 100% vegetarian fed, no antibiotic) for $3.99/lb – regularly $5.99. It doesn’t say organic, but I feel like it’s better than regular grocery store chicken. I will have to say I am still confused by all of this, but appreciate all you have researched and are willing to share with us.

      • Amy Arvin

        I think it’s actually 2.99 (at least in Charlotte, anyway!).

      • amysanders

        The biggest difference that I can tell from organic and what is on sale at earthfare is that you are guaranteed with organic that they aren’t putting arsenic, Benadryl, Tylenol or other goodies in the chickens’ feed. You also know that what they are eating is pesticide free. Does that make more sense or is it as clear as mud? :)

        • TheChapLeigh

          Additionally, organic means Non-GMO as well, a biggie in my book ;)

          • amysanders

            a biggie for me too! thanks for filling in where i was lacking. much appreciated!

    • Add White Oak Pastures to your facebook, they have sales every now and then and the meat is fantastic. Worth the price to pay shipping, especially if you live more than 30 minutes away from a Whole Foods like I do. I stopped buying the Simple Truth meat at Kroger after the 3rd time I had to go exchange it because it was spoiled, I have never had that problem with the White Oak beef (you can buy it at Publix in 1lb packages) or their chicken. I just save up and get around $100 worth delivered at a time.

      • Leah

        I order 3 times a year from White Oak Pastures and have chicken, beef and ground turkey shipped to me. Love their product ESPECIALLY their amazing beef! I used to have serious digestive discomfort after eating beef…but not their grass-fed beef. Big difference.

      • amysanders

        Their site is impressive for sure. What is the shipping like?

    • Jackie

      Amy, I would love it if you made your posts printer friendly…or maybe you have and I just don’t know how to do it. For example last week’s entry about the differences I would have loved to print so I could read it over and over and explain it to others. thanks!

      • amysanders

        I will pass that on to Jenny. :)

    • MomofKLA

      Hi! Wondering about the chicken from Zaycon Foods? I have not yet ordered chicken from them but I was hoping to the next time they are in my area. I did order the ground beef in December and was impressed with the quality and leanness of the meat. Anyone know about the chicken?

      • amysanders

        What I read on Zaycon’s FAQ page has led me to believe that it is your standard conventional chicken. there is no mention of what the chickens are being fed or of their exposure to antibiotics. I might be wrong, but my assumption is that if you are doing something good in these areas, you are going to broadcast it loudly. Does that answer your question?

    • Stacie

      Some Bi-Los and Piggly Wigglys carry the Springer Mountain Farm (Charleston, Summerville area)…however only a few carry the whole chicken. I’ve bought it at Bi-Lo (in Walterboro) for $1.29/lb for the whole chicken but their normal price is 1.99/lb whereas Publix is $2.29.

    • TheChapLeigh

      I’ll add that Harris Teeter carries “Smart Chicken”, with the option of organic, or non-antibiotic/vegetarian. I buy the organic when it’s marked down, usually $2.79/lb for drums & legs, and a whole cut-up organic chicken marked down is usually $2.99/lb. I cannot remember for sure the marked down price of a whole chicken or boneless chicken breasts, as those are more rare to find marked down, but I’m thinking those are also $2.99/lb. Full price for whole chickens & boneless breasts I THINK are either $4.99/lb or $5.99/lb, and thighs & drums are usually $3.99/lb — but I only buy manager’s special chicken since thats the only way I’ll see it discounted at HT or Lowes Foods. Lowes Foods carries it’s store brand name organic chicken, and if I’m in that store I will check for any — and the prices were comparable to HT, to the best of my memory.

    • TheChapLeigh

      I’ll add that Harris Teeter carries “Smart Chicken”, with the option of organic, or non-antibiotic/vegetarian. I buy the organic when it’s marked down, usually $2.79/lb for drums & legs, and a whole cut-up organic chicken marked down is usually $2.99/lb. I cannot remember for sure the marked down price of a whole chicken or boneless chicken breasts, as those are more rare to find marked down, but I’m thinking those are also $2.99/lb. Full price for whole chickens & boneless breasts I THINK are either $4.99/lb or $5.99/lb, and thighs & drums are usually $3.99/lb — but I only buy manager’s special chicken since thats the only way I’ll see it discounted at HT or Lowes Foods. Lowes Foods carries it’s store brand name organic chicken, and if I’m in that store I will check for any — and the prices were comparable to HT, to the best of my memory.

    • Lauren

      We found a WONDERFUL thing…. Zaycon Foods. It’s Natural Antibiotic Free Chicken and delivered in bulk. When I bought it last, it was $1.69/lb!!!! And the chicken is great! http://www.zayconfoods.com

    • J Sims

      BJS wholesale club has Harvestland fresh & frozen chicken. the fresh varies, but I know the frozen comes in a 3lb box (indiv pkg) of 7-9 breasts for around 10 bucks!

    • Claire

      I buy an organic whole chicken every week, roast it on Sunday (it’s super-easy and takes about 1 1/2 -2 hours, flipping it once). After cutting up the leftovers, we eat chicken a variety of chicken pastas, soups (and stock), pot pies, sandwiches, etc. I also subsitute chicken for beef, like in tacos, chili, and lasagna. I love leftovers!