Budgets can be tough to stick too, especially if sticking to a budget is a new thing for you. If you’re the type of family that doesn’t think twice about what groceries cost, like we used to be, going from that to a budget is an eye-opening experience.
We were never ones to overspend, we pay our credit card in full every month, we’re never behind on mortgage or car payments and we can still afford to eat out and buy extras when we want. But then life changes, a baby and a job loss moved us from easy comfort and into stretching every dollar. We put tape around our credit cards and I imposed the “envelope method” for budgeting. We allot a certain amount each month for groceries, gas and extras. At the beginning of the month the envelopes are filled with cash and we can only use that cash to buy our essentials. It has taught B and me a thing or two about how much we used to spend and how we can really live off of so much less.
The biggest change to come out of this is how we’ve been able to stretch a meal. This is the story about how we got 12 meals out of one chicken.
Day 1: Roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy and broccoli. This was a frozen whole oven roaster chicken that finally saw the light of day. It was bought at a BOGO sale months ago, so already half-price chicken! Fed 2 adults (Meals 1 and 2).
Day 2: Chicken soup. The night before I got my hands slimy and tore apart the chicken to remove every edible morsel of meat. The chicken soup was simple enough – Sautéed onion, celery and carrots, sliced garlic, and whole peppercorns. Then chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups of chicken meat and pre-cooked whole wheat egg noodles. This was served with ½ a grilled cheese sandwich. Fed us for 2 dinners and 2 lunches. (Meals 3-6). With about 3 cups of chicken meat left I froze 1 cup knowing that I wouldn’t be using it until the next week.
Day 3: Chicken Pot Pie. See Cooking Light recipe here. We used a real pie crust, B was sick of the biscuit top, so it was a treat! Meals 7, 8, 9 and 10 because we had it on day 3 and day 5.
Day 7: Chicken Quesadillas. I took the 1 cup of frozen meat out to thaw. We whipped together sautéed garlic, onions and peppers, the thawed chicken meat, frozen corn with some chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Used whole wheat tortillas and cheddar cheese to make 1 whole quesadilla, split in half for 2 adults. Served with avocado, sour cream and salsa and a green salad on the side. Meals 11 and 12.
And that’s that, twelve meals made from one chicken. Granted, B and I eat small portions, I know that one family could easily devour a whole chicken in one sitting, so you might need a bigger bird. But by following proper portion guidelines and adding vegetables or fruit to every meal and this plan can easily feed two adults for a week.
What are some ways your family stretches your food dollar?
What else would you do with extras from a whole chicken or turkey?