Bulk frozen chicken can be an affordable alternative to smaller packages because you are not paying for the expensive packaging that is required for the smaller portions. Raw and unprocessed bulk chicken is most often sold in 40 pound cases and can be bone-in or boneless. Further processed chicken, meaning that a natural cut has been cut into smaller pieces, or the chicken has been through a cooking step to add breading for par cooking, can be found in various different case sizes. Regardless of the frozen chicken that you are looking for, it's likely available in a bulk pack to fit your needs.
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Make a list of local farmers markets and bulk food or wholesale food distributors by searching these terms online for your area. You may find a food distributor in your state that will deliver to your area for a fee, so do not exclude those as options.
Start by calling the local farmers markets, as they are often the easiest for non-commercial bulk purchases and they rotate stock frequently. Then call the local distributors on your list. On each call, ask if they sell the specific cut of chicken that you are looking for, what case size options it is available in, what each case size costs and what the best by or use by date is on it. If it is bone-in chicken ask for the kill date. If it is a distributor, ask if delivery is available and what the charge is.
Make a list of each of the responses and choose the option that best fits your needs. Analyse the options on who has the cut that you are looking for, the case size that best fits your needs at the best price and the use by or best by date that is furthest away, or for bone-in choose the kill date that is nearest the current date -- meaning that it is the freshest chicken.
If you have chosen a farmers market, visit the farmers market and pick up the chicken. If you have chosen a distributor, call and place the order with them. Be sure to ask when and where it will be available for pickup or delivery.
Tips and warnings
- If you are picking up frozen chicken from a distributor in a vehicle without a freezer, take a large, empty cooler with you to keep the temperature as cold as possible in transit. Add dry ice to the cooler if you will be in transit for over an hour.
- Cuts of bone-in, skin-on chicken that are typically sold in the United States are breasts, thighs, wings, legs, thigh quarters --- which include the leg attached to the thigh --- and whole chicken WOGs, meaning that it is a cleaned whole chicken with no innards or livers. You can aldo find what is referred to as an eight-piece cut which is two breasts, thighs, wings and legs.
- Cuts of boneless chicken that are typically sold in the United States are boneless skinless breasts with rib meat, split boneless skinless breast with rib meat, boneless skinless breasts without rib meat, split boneless skinless breast without rib meat, boneless skinless thighs and tenders.
- A large number of further processed chicken is available, but some of the most common include nuggets, breast strips, chicken fillets, chicken patties and boneless wings.
- If you are unable to locate a farmers market or wholesale food distributor in your area that sells the chicken that you need. Visit your local club store for more options. Club store prices will be higher, package size will be smaller and they will likely not carry bone-in frozen chicken.
- Do not transport frozen chicken in a non-temperature controlled vehicle without a cooler or dry ice. The chicken might begin thawing and reach dangerous temperatures above 4.44 degrees Celsius resulting in spoilage.
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