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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Make a chicken stretch over 3 meals.

Often people ask questions about lowering their shopping bills. I often reply with the same thing. I shop only in Tesco, i always have and likely will carry on doing so. I will pop into Sainsbury's for the odd thing but being as its not local, i do not make a special effort to pop into the store. My shopping has never gone over the £50 a week mark, except when we do a birthday party for the girls. This £50 a week includes the delivery charge, cat food and litter, 8 days worth of dinners, lunches and breakfasts and cleaning and packed lunch stuff. It sounds impossible and i have on many occasions been faced with a "your lying" message on my screen. My reply is always the same.

"I am on a very very tight budget. If it goes over £50, i can not pay my rent or bills. After adding all items to my online basket, i then weedle through it and remove my impulse buys. Very rarely do i ever have any impulse buy that we need, which tops it over the £50 mark"

We eat fresh meat, fresh veg, the girls have small treats. We eat very well being on a tight budget. How do i do it? No meal i make goes over 60p per person. I use all leftovers and rarely throw food away as i buy only what we need for the week. I am also not a brand snob. I refuse to pay for packaging, for a name. I do not like how we shop. I would love to just put stuff in my trolley and not panic at the checkout. I avoid shopping in shops now because i know i will be tempted by offers and i hate walking around counting everything in my trolley down to the last penny.

But meat is expensive! Yes it is. However a joint of meat can go really far as long as its not piled up on the plate. Im far from stingy. I LOVE meat! There will always be a good sized portion on our plates. But Aldi is cheaper! Yes and no. If your a brand snob, you will save a sizable chunk of money. For those who buy mainly value brands... you will save pennies. I have not added recipes to everything, as they are pretty basic and easily found via google.

As chicken is one of those meats that some find is impossible to stretch further than 1 meal i thought i would share some of the things i make on a regular basis. Each meal is no more than £1 a person, easily tweakable to your own personal tastes and mostly freezable. All meals are based on my own family, consisting of 2 adults and 2 children. For a much larger family you may find this does not work as more meat will be needed. It would hopefully still be some money saving ideas though.

Screenshot taken from mysupermarket.com. Prices correct at time of posting.

This is the chicken i tend to buy the most often from Tesco. Its nearly always on a 2 for £8 offer but it is well worth looking on mysupermarket for offers in other stores. We get through 1 chicken a week on average so it works out a great buy when other stores do not have them on offer too. 

Easy meals to make. 

Chicken Fajitas - perfect for using up chunks and then shredding into chunky pieces.
  • I use packet mixes for the spice. These range from 50p-£1, depending on brand or offers (i have heard that b&m is a fantastic place to buy these cheaper)
  • Tortilla wraps - roughly around £1 for 6-8 wraps
  • pepper
  • onion
  • Other veggies - optional but i make chuck courgette, aubergine, mushrooms into pretty much any meal with veggies. It also bulks out the wrap if i want to do a vegetarian option and exclude the chicken. 
  • Cheese sauce - i usually buy the bisto cheese sauce granules as i can control the amount i make. If pouring over nachos or using as a sauce, i make my own using a basic white sauce recipe and adding cheese. I have linked a recipe for the sauce here
  • Salsa - I batch cook this to freeze this to use in soups or as a sauce. It freezes fine but it loses its consistency and goes abit watery which i personally do not like it as a dip.
  • Guacamole - freezable but personal preference regarding the taste once thawed. 
Chicken noodle soup (or chicken soup?) - Perfect for using up those strangly bits of chicken that seem pointless putting in a meal. You can find details on how i make mine here. Freezable but i would use egg noodles instead of the noodles i used. 

Chicken and sweet potato curry - great for using the bigger pieces of chicken, that you can chunk up. 

Chicken, mushroom and vegetable pie - Great for using both larger peices of chicken and smaller bits. Bulk out with veg. A mushroom sauce can be made using a basic white sauce and adding mushrooms. 

Chicken nuggets/fingers/strips - Go wild! Turn a chicken breast into strips, dice into big chunks and roll in spiced breadcrumbs. Cous cous is a fantastic option for those who are dieting. Freezable if uncooked. 

Chicken stew with herby dumplings. - Personally i find bigger chunks of chicken work better for this. I wouldn't personally freeze this as you would be using cooked chicken, then cooked again. If i make a chicken stew i add the chicken about 20 mins from the end. If you wanted to freeze i would add when the gravy is cooled. Personal preference though. 

Sticky BBQ chicken - i use the wings, thighs and drumsticks when i make this and is the only time a chicken does not go over 3 meals. I use the packs of Maggi's packet mix BBQ chicken and use the chicken as a side for a homemade fakeaway. You could just as easily use chunks of chicken breast instead. I haven't tried freezing this. 

Chicken and bacon pasta bake. - ideal for smaller chunks of chicken. Freezable - allow too thaw completely before reheating. I am not a fan of frozen pasta personally but it freezes well. 

Chicken, mayo and sweetcorn mix - perfect for any small bits of chicken. Mix with pasta and eat cold or hot. *Mayo is not freezable make the mix and exclude the mayo if freezing* 

Chicken, onion and cheese pate - I have not personally made this. My nan used to make it all the time for sandwiches. I detest pate. I do not like the texture. My nan used to blend chicken with cooked onions and a dairylea triangle (or any soft cheese) Would be an experiment for those who like pate and want to use up the really small bits of chicken. Add pepper and spices to taste. Freezable but wrap well and use within a month. 

Pizza toppings - ideal for very small chunks of chicken. Freezable depending on toppings. I make pizza baguettes and freeze before cooking leaving off the sliced tomatoes. 

Chicken risotto - Ideal for small to mid sized pieces (depending on personal preference, i like to use up very small bits for this). I personally wouldn't freeze it but have been told it freezes well. I am not a fan of frozen pasta though which is likely why i do not like the taste when thawed. 

Chicken fried rice (similar to chinese egg fried rice) - Ideal for small to mid chunks. Freezable but not to my taste once thawed. 

Chicken stir fry - Ideal for using up breast meat. Not freezable. 

Honey and lemon chicken - ideal for using diced chicken breast or thigh - It is freezable although i would freeze the chicken uncooked with the sauce. You can check out my recipe here

Other options are 
  • Sandwich fillings 
  • Quiche fillings - you can see my quiche recipe here 
  • Jacket potato toppings
  • Chicken frittata - you can see my frittata recipe here 
Tips for making a chicken go over more than 1 meal. 
  • Plan your meals. As mentioned i use on average 1 chicken a week. An example on how i make a chicken stretch over 3 meals is: chicken breast - chicken curry. Chicken thighs - diced up for chicken fajitas. Leftover smaller peices - Risotto, toppings or soup. 
  • Bulk out with as much vegetables as possible. I use courgette, aubergine, mushroom, pepper, garlic and onion in everything i can. It adds flavour and colour to my meals. Frozen veg works fine too. 
  • I never use a roast chicken to go over a few meals. If i buy a large sized chicken i could get 2 meals easy out of it - a roast and a meal requiring small pieces of leftover chicken. If i am making a roast i tend to buy pork or beef as i have much more meat to work with. 
  • Slow cooking a whole chicken makes it much easier to divide the portions up, as the meat will just fall off the bone.
Happy cooking :)


  1. I love cooking and any new recipes that save me money always puts a smile on my face.

  2. My tesco bill is always double that, in fact I've had to start shopping at aldi just to make my money go further. Thanks for the handy tips and for showing us how to stretch a few more meals out of a chicken.




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