Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Easy, Basic Chicken Recipe

Every Wednesday Night is chicken night. We get our chicken from Save-A-Lot. We get leg quarters in a 10 lb bag for $5.80. Two months ago, it was $3.90 and the price crept up. It's still the best price I've seen, but I'm not happy about it.

Our default chicken is for when I don't have the time or energy to do anything special. I throw half the bag of chicken in the the crock pot on low all day. It comes out soft and versatile.
Chicken - $1.48

Chicken cooked this way makes great leftovers and provides a few days meals for my husband's lunch. However, 5 lbs of chicken is not necessary for one meal, even if it is quarters with the bone in. For the actual meal, we only use maybe half of what is cooked, so I listed the cost as a quarter of the bag.

Default chicken is usually served with a pound of potatoes, mashed. When I make potatoes with chicken, I put in some of the juice that cooked out of the chicken and mash the potatoes with that, omitting butter and milk. This chicken broth is extremely nutritious and would otherwise be lost. We used to let is congeal in the fridge and toss it. It is also good for gravy and broth for soup, so don't toss it like we did. Sometimes I throw oregano or rosemary in the potatoes to spice it up, but it's not necessary. By the way, I leave my skins on for nutritional value, even with mashed, but I scrub them thoroughly first.

Potatoes -$0.35

I also make a pound of broccoli. I get my frozen broccoli at the Dollar Tree, 2 lbs for $1 of broccoli cuts. My family doesn't care that they are cuts and not florets. I don't see them at the Dollar Tree every time, so I am really hoping they don't discontinue them.

Broccoli -$0.50

The most basic ways to spice up this meal is sprinkling something on top of the chicken. Cajun seasoning on the top makes the chicken on top spicy for adults, leaving the chicken on bottom mild for kids. We also throw on bread crumbs and spices to make something similar to shake and bake.

When I feel more creative with my chicken I do several other things, including a real spicy chicken and Chinese chicken. Even though I don't use the whole half bag of chicken with these recipes, I cook half the bag to make the leftover chicken, but it's not a good idea to cook half the bag if your family won't use the leftovers in a timely manner.


Lori said...

Salt, pepper, garlic and a sliced onion on the chicken is my default. I use leg quarters, too. The chicken is delicious like this, and tastes just like a rotisserie chicken from the deli. And it makes absolutely delicious chicken salad.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear about the spicy chicken and the chinese, two of my favorites. Especially spicy, that has been my all-time favorite this pregnancy. Weird, huh?

I think I need to look for a bigger crock pot. Mine is oval and I don't think big enough to hold cake pans and such. Garage sale season is just about over though. Hmmmm

Emily said...

Lori, that sounds like a good way to make default chicken, and just as versatile as plain chicken.

Anna, spicy chicken is cajun seasoning with Louisiana hot sauce, then I turn the chicken every few hours to let the juice really sit in. I kind of dump in the hot sauce, but experiment with it to your tastes. I'll probaby turn it into its own post someday with measurements. All of the crock pot baking recipes are good in the oven, too, so no need to buy anything.

Perfect in Imperfection said...

Hi, Emily!
I love your blog.
If you want to try something different, my default chicken is baked with rosemary, oregano, Basil, and garlic.

I haven't seen you post anything with rice... am I just not paying attention? We use brown rice with our "default" chicken" meal, with frozen veggies and/or mushrooms.

Love the blog!

Emily said...

PIP, you caught me! we don't eat rice. Neither my husband nor I like it, so we have potatoes and flour based food instead. We also don't like peas. :)

I've tried a ton of rice recipes and can't get myself to like them. This is exactly the opposite of most frugal people, but we gave up trying to like rice and worked on making our other dishes frugal.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about trying to do as much cooking in the crock pot as possible. We have a very large home, so this would help our utilities like you mentioned.

We also have talked about putting in a wood-burning stove and I have seen my mother-in-law warm and boil? a few things on the stove.

I bet I could find a larger crock pot on freecycle or the salvation army. I'll just have to keep my eyes open.

Unknown said...

I just have to ask. 1) Why don't you put together a small, inside herb garden? It takes next to nothing in terms of cost and effort, and you can use the herbs fresh or even dry and save them. 2) What do you do in terms of cleaning. You wrote that you wash your clothes in a bucket... Do you boil water? Make your own detergent? What do you use in terms of other cleaning products? 3) In your pursuit of green, do you use disposable or cloth diapers?

Emily said...

Rebecca, I grew some herbs inside over the summer and dried them all. I don't boil the laundry water. I use soap nuts, made into a concentrate (I am writing a post about that) and I use cloth diapers. I am working on a post about other cleaning products I use as well, but it's mostly the standard water, baking soda, and vinegar. I'm looking for a good dishwashing detergent for when I get through with my current supply and hope soap nuts will work for that, too.

Perfect in Imperfection said...

Hi, Emily!
So brown rice is a no-go, too?

Also, someone mentioned Freecycle. It's an awesome idea. We've gotten and passed on some amazing stuff through there, things that we would normally have had to buy.

Just a thought,

Emily said...

PIP, yeah we just don't like rice, even brown rice. I've never gotten anything from freecycle, although I often look to see what people are offering. It seems like a great resource, though.

tatortotcassie said...

PLEASE tell me you save the bones and make soup stock from them! So many people overlooks the carcass it makes me sad. And even after being in a crock pot there's still plenty of goodness that can be leached out of the bones, like calcium from the oss. and protein from the marrow.

'Course, you'll have to do a long, gentle cooking to get the optimal stock but it's SO worth it -- stocks and broths are never as good when from a can. (However, I wonder about the "broth" that you say you get when the chicken comes out of the crockpot. I'm guessing you keep the skin on so much of that juice is full of saturated fat. Not so very nutritious, although probably equal to butter.)

Allie Bague said...

Aha! I think I've answered my own question from another post. You guys don't like rice. Sigh. Have you tried it with beans and mexican spices? It really is good...

Anyway, I was looking to see what you do for chicken and I too look for the frozen 5lb bags but sometimes the fresh chicken is a better buy and I get that. Now that you have that new roaster you could roast the chicken with some of your salsa which would be just yummy! ;-)

I agree with another poster who said to take the bones and make a stock. This way you can add some carrots/celery and your home made noodles to it and make a really economical chicken noodle soup for the kids. What kid doesn't love chicken noodle soup?

Anonymous said...

First time here,
I used to live on $30 a week and the 5llb chicken bag was a life saver. I used to divide it into 2 leg quarters and freeze it(using the bags from the grocery store), then I would boil it with salt and pepper and a little garlic . One of my favorite meals was pulled chicken rolled up in a corn tortilla, covered with tomato sauce(canned) and i would put in oven for 5-10 min with cheese on top and my family loved it!

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