In this chicken and dumplin' recipe, I mention that I start out by cooking a whole chicken. It really is the cheapest way to buy chicken and super simple because you just plop it in a pot and you're done. No cutting or chopping involved.
I usually boil the chicken whole in a big pot of water, but now I have come across a better idea.
You absolutely must read The Happy Housewife's post about cooking a whole chicken.
She gives step by step instructions on cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot and then using the bones and skin to make chicken broth.
Happy also breaks down the cost per person of the two meals she was able to make out of one $4 chicken! Incredibly, one of the meals works out to 30 CENTS per person!
Read the comments, too. You'll find lots of great tips there, too.