Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Things Come in Threes:3 meals for $3 and 3 Recipes for You

The truth is, I am a lazy person at heart. I mean really lazy. So lazy, I actually work at it. Meaning, I try to be efficient and set things up so they require the least amount of work. It's a good kind of lazy.

I have extended this lazy ethic into the kitchen and was pleased with the results this week, particularly in the area of efficiency. Home cooked food doesn't have to mean hours in the kitchen, not if you're smart about it.

I took 2 packages of bone-in chicken breasts bought during a buy-one-get-one sale. Total cost for 4 breasts: $3. Number of meals made: 3. So basically, three meals for three bucks worth of chicken. Not bad. Here's what I did.

Le Menu:

Chicken enchiladas
Chicken salad
Chicken stock for Asian Meatball Soup

(Recipes follow)

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock (makes about $5 worth of broth for under $2)


-Chicken with bones $0 Essentially free assuming you use the meat for a different meal.
-Water $0
Various spices; garlic powder, onion powder, paprika $0.75
Fresh veggies as desired and as available @$0 to $2 depending on what you use/have on hand

Serves: 8 to 10 people if you're just making soup.

Cost: Up to $2.75.

Time: 6 hours in the crock pot. Maybe 40 minutes processing time once it's cooked.


1. Put the breasts in the crock pot and cover with water.

2. Add onion powder, garlic powder and paprika in whatever amount looks good to you (if that kind of recipe freedom freaks you out, go for 1 tbsp each). You could also add veggies like carrots, onions or celery. Whatever you normally use for stock.

3.Cook on low for 6 hours.

4.Take out the chicken and set aside to cool.

5.Strain the stock.I used a thin dish towel over a small ceramic bowl. (See below for some pictures.)

This is the set up for straining the stock. Bones on the left. Stock to be strained in the middle. A thin towel over a bowl on the right for straining.

Here I am squeezing the last of the strained broth from the towel. Look at the golden broth I am left with--looks yummy, no?

6. Debone the chicken and shred the meat if you plan to use my menu. If not, carry on with your own recipe.

Half the meat goes for chicken enchiladas and the other half goes for the chicken salad. Here are the recipes.

Cheap Chicken Enchiladas


-shredded chicken @$1.50
-jar of generic salsa @$1.50 (Enchilada sauce is okay too, we avoid it due to an unfortunate association with the stomach flu.)
-jar of black beans @$0.85 (You can use dried beans or refried beans, whatever you have on hand. We had a lone, stray can that needed to be eaten.)
-10 tortillas @$1.50
-shredded cheese @$1.80

Total cost: $7.15

Serves: Yields 10 enchiladas which serves 5 if everyone eats 2 enchiladas. 6 or more if you have some light eaters or serve with a substantial side dish.

Time: Approximately 30 minutes, start to finish.


1.Preheat oven to 350F.
2.Put roughly 2 tablespoons each of chicken, beans and salsa in each tortilla.

Note: Ration out the salsa so you don't need more than one jar for this recipe. You want enough salsa left over to put on top of the tortillas.

3.Roll tortillas up and place in pan.
4.Top with salsa--approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons of salsa per tortilla.
5.Cover with cheese
6.Bake for 20 minutes or so until cheese is melted.

Cheap Chicken Salad


-3/4 cup of Mayo @$0.75 (I kind of eyeball the amount and add mayo until it's to the consistency/flavor I like.)
-Shredded chicken $1.50
-Pickles, diced @$0.20
-Small onion diced @$0.25

Optional Extras

-8 slices bread @$1.60 if store bought @$0.80 if homemade
-Lettuce (organic) @$1.00
-4 slices Cheese @1.00

Note: You can spice this recipe up and add other stuff if you wish. This is a very flexible recipe that should be personalized. Consider this recipe a blank canvas. To cut costs, eliminate extras like the lettuce and cheese. Or use one piece of bread per person or nix the bread altogether and serve on a bed of greens. I often eat this on a Wasa cracker with some cheese.

Total cost: $2.70 for the chicken salad alone. $6.50 with all the optional ingredients.

Serves: 4 to 5 people.

Time: 15 to 20 minutes.


1.Mix ingredients and serve on bread, lettuce, or crackers as desired. That's it. A one step recipe.

How's that for lazy? Pretty good I think!

The aforementioned Asian Meatball Soup recipe will be forthcoming as this post has become way too long and the soup deserves its own post; it's that good. Yum!

How many meals can you make with one cooking session in your house? I'm looking for ideas and recipes!

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