Today’s post is from Charissa from CookWithaShoe.com, who (get this) paid off debt WHILE paying for college – in cash – at the same time! She’s sharing some of her budgeting expertise today, so please give a warm welcome to Charissa!
How many yummy, absolutely easy meals does one chicken make?
It is a juggling act to ensure there is enough real food in the house, yet still stick to a budget. As a working gal who loves to cook and needs to feed her family, dinners need to be nutritious, easy to throw together, leave enough leftover to use for lunches for at least the next day and not be too expensive.
That’s not too high of an order, right?
If you can relate to the constant challenge of feeding your family on a budget, here is a great way to survive the kitchen madness:
Take a whole chicken, roast it, and use the shredded meat in several yummy, absolutely easy meals though out the week.
Having your menu planned, just like Tiffany teaches, and going to the grocery store for all your supplies at the beginning of the week is essential to winning by saving money in the kitchen. If you haven’t planned out your menu, stop and do that first!
You will be so glad you did. Pick meals which will make a lot so you can use the leftovers for either a freezer meal for later or for lunches.
I cook one chicken every week and make it last by planning dishes which include a lot of veggies and other ingredients; frequently making these four favorites: Sour Cream Enchiladas, Psole, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Stir Fry. They are amazingly tasty, cheap, filling, and make leftovers. Sounds like an instant win!
Yum! My stomach is growling already. (By the way, everyone always asks for the recipes.)
Let me take you through a week of cooking chicken at my house. How many yummy, absolutely easy, meals can you get out of one chicken and will the meals be cheap to fix? Well, let’s find out!
The savings start when I buy a case of whole organic chickens from Costco, dropping the price down by $0.50/lb. You can store the chickens in your freezer or split the case with a friend if you don’t have that much room.
How to Stretch One Chicken into 31 Meals for $1 Each
First, roast your chicken over night in the crock pot.
Weird? Yes, but you wake up smelling an amazing aroma.
You also won’t be tempted to quickly cook up some veggies and tear apart the chicken for dinner when you get home from work because you are ravenous. Not like this has ever happened to me.
A big crock like this one is best, and then in the morning, let the chicken cool and shred the meat off the bones to use for later, yielding roughly 6 cups of meat.
Leave the bones, skin, and drippings in the crock pot. Fill the crock pot with water, a splash of apple cider vinegar to start homemade broth which you will cook on low for 24 hours. (Optional: add carrot peels, onion peels, celery scraps, and garlic papers for a richer broth.)
- One Organic Chicken – $9
- 1/2 Gallon Homemade Chicken Stock: $0 (the cost is included with the chicken)
Dinner 1: Sour Cream Enchiladas
Using cooked, shredded chicken makes this meal quick and easy to throw together even on a busy night. Chicken, spinach, chilies, and red bell peppers surrounded by cheesy sour cream hugged by a tortilla and smothered with enchilada sauce in 45 minutes will make you want to get home early.
- Double Batch Sour Cream Enchiladas – $9.77 (not counting the chicken, since it’s counted above)
Dinner 2: Psole
Salsa, hominy, chicken, chicken broth, lots of cilantro and cumin make this soup mouthwatering. A quick sautè of onions, celery and aromatic spices, then all ingredients are added to the crock pot to welcome you home after work. So easy, it’s almost like you did not even cook dinner.
Don’t forget the sour cream and cheese for toppings!
And, psole is even better the next day; yay for leftovers!
- Large Pot of Psole: $5.97 (again, not including the chicken since we’ve already counted that)
Dinner 3: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Yes, we like Mexican food and eat a lot of soups. Chicken tortilla soup is packed full with summer squash, carrots, onions, and corn, with a touch of Chipotle heat, but what really makes it stand out are the toppings. Crunched up tortilla chips, sour cream, avocados, cheese and cilantro can all be added to customize everyone’s bowl of soup.
While you can use your crock pot, this soup is prettier if you cook it on the stove. Chicken tortilla soup is a great comfort food giving you a hug from the inside and is a great meal to serve guests.
- Pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup – $4.02
Dinner 4: Stir Fry
My chicken and my broth are running low towards the end of the week. Because a different flavor is in order, I turn to another easy standby, stir fry. You can use rice noodles or rice cooked in the last of the broth for an extra boost of goodness.
Stir fry nights are a good way to use up those veggies which might be lingering in your fridge, needing to be eaten. I don’t necessarily use a recipe any more but my go-to’s are broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onions, bell pepper, ginger, mushrooms, and seaweed. Feel free to add anything else you like or whatever is left in the fridge.
Cook the veggies until colors brighten and are still slightly crisp. Add the remaining chicken and a little tamari sauce to the veggies. Serve over rice or noodles.
Another easy dinner and two pots to wash. Because, who likes doing dishes anyways?
- Stir-fry – $3.48 (Are you kidding? I can get used to this!)
So how many yummy, absolutely easy meals does one chicken make?
I made 4 dinners with good-sized servings for two adults (seconds were allowed) and there were enough leftovers for 2-3 servings for lunch or freezer meals.
The total cost break down is $9 for the chicken + $9.77 + $5.97 + $4.02 + $3.48 for the meals for a total of $32.24 for 31 servings of yummy food and 1/2 gallon of broth.
In other words, the total cost for each serving is $1.04.
Seriously? 31 servings of yummy, absolutely easy meals from one chicken and you only had to cook 4 times (ok, 5 times if you count the chicken). Instant win! Plus, everyone will like your food so much they will be begging you to make these meals again.
All the shopping was done at local stores, with some bulk purchases. Shop what is on sale and if you use coupons, you may save even more money. Your budget will breathe a sigh of relief especially if you are trying to trim costs.
Did I make you hungry? I certainly hope so, because you need to make these amazing meals today! How many yummy, absolutely easy meals can you make out of one chicken?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase through those links, I will earn commission that helps to keep the lights on in the Crumbs house – with no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Crumbs in this way. Read my full disclosure statement here.