… but, darn it, I can make a lot of meals out of three chicken breasts. Thirteen to be exact. That’s right. 13. One-three.
This post kicks off a new category on frugal cooking that I’ll do from time to time. Money’s getting tighter for everyone, and having been a one income household for more than three years, I’ve already figured out ways to eat pretty well for less, especially when chicken breasts run about $10/kg ($5/lb) here. Of course, whole chickens are much cheaper, but when chicken breasts are on sale I’ll grab them. First, let me start by saying these were large chicken breasts and here in Australia they also leave the tender attached, so they weighed about 1 kg (2.2 lbs.). Secondly, I did have to use other ingredients to compose those meals.
Before I go any further, I’m going to get this over with now and out myself. What I am about to admit could cost me any credibility I may have had with certain people who are obsessed with food. In fact, it could even prevent me from getting a job at certain publications and websites that espouse a brand of culinary Luddism. Here goes. Some of the ingredients I used in these meals included Campbell’s Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom Soup. There. I said it. Moving on.
Here’s how I got those 13 meals. First, I gently poached the chicken breasts then tore them into bite sized pieces. The first night, I made a casserole from a church cookbook that included, among other things some chicken, sour cream and the aforementioned cream of something soup. I served it over brown rice with a vegetable and fruit salad. That made three meals.
The next dish was a tortilla casserole that included chicken, more of the dastardly soup, rotel and cheese. Served with salad. Four meals.
Then I made a delicious chicken lasagna– sans the soups (see recipe below)– and served it with brocolli and salad and that lasted four meals. Tonight, with the remaining half cup or so of chicken I’m making a BBQ chicken pizza, which will feed two of us. So there you have it. 13 meals on 1 kg. of chicken. That’s less than 90 g (3 ozs.) per meal, which is not only good for the budget, it’s better for the environment to eat less meat. And you know what? We didn’t even miss having a big hunk of meat front and center on the plate.
White Lasagna with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach
2 cups cooked chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces
6 no boil lasagna noodles (or regular noodles cooked to package directions)
12 ozs (300 g) mushrooms, roughly chopped
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
3 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated parmasean cheese
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz. frozen spinach thawed and drained
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1. In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and sautee mushrooms about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. In a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter over medium heat.
3. Add onion and garlic and sautee until softened. Watch the heat to make sure they don’t brown.
4. Add 1/3 cup flour and stir for about 1 minute.
5. Add chicken stock, milk and salt stirring constantly until the mixture starts to thicken a little.
6. Add 1 cup of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesean and stir until cheese melts.
7. Add basil, oregano and pepper, the cooked chicken and sauteed mushrooms. Remove from heat and stir, just to incorporate the spices, chicken and mushrooms.
8. In a bowl, combine the ricotta and egg. Stir in the spinach.
9. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and line it with 2 of the lasagna noodles.
10. Spread 1/3 of the chicken and mushroom mixture over the noodles, followed by 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, and about 1/3 of the remaining mozzarella and parmesean. Lightly sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Repeat with another layer of noodles, 1/3 of the chicken mixture, the rest of the ricotta, 1/3 of the cheeses and more salt and pepper.
11. Put on the final layer of noodles, top with remaining chicken mixture, mozzarella, parmesean and then sprinkle with chopped parsley.
12. Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned on top.