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Five Meals for $5

Charlene Nelson
 August 17, 2022
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Have you ever had one of those weeks? The week where everything seems to go wrong and you find your finances, time and patience put to the test? Maybe you’re having a busy week shuttling kids to activities two or three times a day, lots of home and garden chores plus a rush of other demands on your time.

Or maybe you’ve had some unexpected expenses and you need to tighten the food budget for a week or two. Whatever the reason, do you really have time to have to worry about what to fix for dinner?

Rotisserie chickens to the rescue!

Rotisserie chickens were invented just for weeks like this. Pretty much every grocery store sells rotisserie chicken. You can buy a fully cooked chicken for $6-$9 at most grocery stores. But when it comes to rotisserie chicken, I think it’s safe to say that Costco leads the pack. At $5 each, Costco sells 60 million rotisserie chickens a year! I can hardly think of a better—or more convenient—bargain.

Here’s the best part: with careful planning, you can make that $5 deal stretch for five meals. Yes, that’s right. You can make a full meal to feed a family of four for just $2-$4 a day. For the entire meal. That’s one dollar per person–or less!–for a full meal There’s no $1 menu on earth that comes close to that kind of bargain.

The Five Meal Plan
Here’s the plan in a nutshell:
Day 1: The chicken is a side dish. Thighs for the adults, drumsticks for the kids. Add a side of rice or potatoes, salad and a veggie and you have a quick and easy meal.
Day 2: The chicken is the foundation of a casserole. Use one chicken breast to make your favorite casserole: Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Divan, Chicken Noodle Casserole or, our family favorite: Chicken Enchiladas.
Day 3: Use the second breast to make another casserole or a chicken salad meal. Serve Chicken Salad on a croissant or sourdough roll along with a side of fresh veggies and pickles.
Day 4: Today the back and wings are the foundation of  a soup or casserole. Our family favorite: Chicken Wild Rice Dijon Soup. See recipe in links below. This creamy soup will satisfy even your most picky eaters.
Day 5: Start the day by cooking the carcass and all the meat, fat and skin left over from previous meals.

When you cook the bones you'll be able to get every scrap of meat left on the bones and have a nice, tasty broth. Use the remaining meat and the broth to make a broth-based soup. Add vegetables for color and flavor and make it more filling with noodles or dumplings. 

For economic meals, make chicken an addition, not the foundation of your meals. (Photo: Pixabay)

A note about bone broth
Plain broth comes after cooking the carcass for just 20-30 minutes. This is the kind of broth you get when you buy a 1-quart carton of Swanson broth at the store. But I prefer the hearty, rich flavor of bone broth.

What makes bone broth different?  When you cook the bones 36-48 hours in a slow cooker, or two hours in a pressure cooker, the heat extracts more of the protein and collagen from the marrow and cartilage in the bones. This is a long, slow process that most people don't like to take the time for. But the taste and nutritional value you get from bone broth are well worth the time.

I've found that the meat that is cooked this long gets tough and loses its flavor. So, after 20-30 minutes of simmering, I remove the bones and take off every scrap of meat that I can get. Set the meat aside and return the bones to the pot. You can get more detailed instruction at the link below.

One final note

These meals are all based on a meal for four people. You'll need to increase the recipes if your family is larger.

Also, except for Day One, all these recipes have you using meat as an addition to the meal, not the central ingredient. You need to carefully use every scrap of meat on the bones. Your grandmother, coming through the Great Depression would never have let a single scrap of chicken leave the house and neither should you.

If you follow this meal plan you may find that it is just the thing to help get you through the challenges to your time and budget.

Recipe and instructions for bone broth: Recipe: Bone Broth - Provident Home Companion
Recipe for Chicken Wild Rice Dijon soup: Recipe: Bone Broth - Provident Home Companion

charlene.nelson@mydakotan.com

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