Post by Contributing Author, Jessica Smartt from Smartter Each Day
Do you like chicken but don’t want to break the bank? Read on for some yummy AND FRUGAL real-food chicken dinner recipes!
Y’all, there are some things I don’t mind spending money on. Every five years, I have an absolute breakdown and go spend some major birthday money on clothes that fit the body I actually have at that point. Also, date nights…Even if our budget gets very tight, we will scrimp and save to spend time together – eating, most likely. Because date nights together are that important.
But I will tell you something I do NOT like to splurge on.
It’s chicken, y’all. Whenever I see meals calling for prosciutto, and two and a half large chicken breasts PER PERSON, stuffed with some rare French cheese and umpteen fresh herbs…I click that ol’ browser shut as fast as I can. I’m sure it’s delicious, but I cannot afford to serve every member of my family three pounds of chicken in one sitting! No way.
Sometimes I try to make vegetarian meals, but my husband is like a Meat Detective. No meal is complete without meat, and I cannot trick him with lentil tacos or quinoa burgers (I have tried).
If you are like me, and like your chicken a few times a week but want to stretch it a little bit longer, then this list is for you. Here are 20 frugal whole-food chicken dinner recipes.
Recipes Using Chicken Breast or Meat
- Trader Joe’s Secret Recipe Grilled Chicken over romaine lettuce – If you have Trader Joe’s, you HAVE to try this magical $1.99 ingredient on grilled chicken. To save money, just serve a little of the chicken over each salad, and add white beans for some extra protein.
- Trader Joe’s Secret Recipe Grilled Chicken over pasta, lemon, and olive oil. I also like it with frozen peas mixed in, and then you have a complete meal!
- Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Tortilla Soup – Aside from tasting completely divine, this is a great recipe because I can usually freeze half of it for another meal, especially if I add a little more chicken broth than she uses. It freezes great! I usually serve with my gluten/dairy/egg-free cornbread muffins (which taste amazing, by the way!).
- Grilled BBQ Chicken Skewers With Bacon and Pineapple – This is my sister’s recipe, and so yummy! It is especially frugal because it doesn’t use much chicken breast. You can also use canned pineapple, and halve the recipe to serve with an inexpensive side dish (rice, corn on the cob, tortilla chips…)
- Trader Joe’s White Chicken Chili (If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, just substitute a can of corn for the corn salsa I reference)
- Crockpot Southwest Chicken and Rice Chowder – A friend brought me this after I had my son, and it is so completely yummy. “Chowder” is the perfect word, because it’s thick and hearty!
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Chicken Burritos (I use the smallest amount of chicken I can, along with black or refried beans, salsa, corn, sautéed peppers, and cheese if you wish).
- Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
- Chicken Avocado Salad
- Crockpot Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli
- Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Crockpot Spicy Chicken Soup
- Crockpot Country Redneck Chicken Paella
Recipes Using A Whole Chicken
- Roasted Chicken In the Crock Pot (save some of the chicken for one of the meals above) – I often serve this for our Sunday dinner with buttered noodles or rice, salad, and applesauce. And p.s., if you use a little of the chicken drippings to make gravy, your husband will think he’s died and gone to heaven.
- Mom’s Famous Chicken Soup – Oh, you have to try this recipe during a nice, chilly day. My mom’s chicken soup – there’s nothing like it. It does use the whole chicken for the recipe, BUT it makes such a large
bucketpot of soup, we eat it and then freeze enough for two other meals. It is so nice to pull out some delicious, homemade soup from the freezer – and there’s dinner!
Recipes Using Chicken Pieces
- Asian drumsticks – I like serving this with rice and roasted broccoli. This recipe suggests some rare (to me) Asian ingredient that I always omit…tastes fine without it!
- BBQ drumsticks – I love this with my homemade dairy-free biscuits. Yes, you can dump a plain ol’ jar of store-bought BBQ sauce over the chicken. It’s so much yummier to make your own!
- Simple Baked Drumsticks (surprisingly delicious!)
What’s your favorite frugal chicken recipe?