Cheap chicken dinners that you can make easily without a gazillion ingredients are what us busy folk need. We don’t have 2 hours to prep a gourmet meal, nor do we have exotic ingredients only found at certain (expensive) stores.
Comforting food that doesn’t break the bank, that we can make easily and quickly is what busy families want.
Cheap chicken meals start with the humble chicken
I am a great fan of the humble chicken, it’s so versatile and can be used for recipes from around the world.
One whole chicken can often be stretched to make 3 meals or more for a family of four. And I’m not talking a huge chicken. just a medium size chicken. The key is using it in recipes that don’t need a large quantity of chicken per portion.
Start with a roast chicken then move onto other recipes using less chicken. I usually finish the last of a chicken with chicken fajitas or a chicken lunch meal of some sort.
To keep my grocery budget low and to speed up dinner prep I often cook a whole chicken at the weekend and use the leftovers during the week to make these recipes.
Alternatively you can freeze leftover chicken and use in these budget chicken recipes, but please don’t cook extra or reheat the meals you make. You should only reheat cooked chicken once.
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Buying chicken cheap
Chicken is often the cheapest meat you can buy. You can of course get cheaper protein through using beans and pulses. But pound for pound chicken is pretty darn cheap and so versatile.
Chicken might be cheap at it’s regular price but as many frugal folk know, there are times when you can get cheap food even cheaper and this is when you want to pounce.
When chicken goes on offer, and it often does whatever store you visit, buy more and freeze it. Creating a food stockpile of your regular foods but at their cheapest price is one of the many frugal living tips that I encourage you to follow.
Whole chickens are the cheapest to buy, followed by thighs and legs. Chicken breast is more expensive but it’s still not expensive, just less cheap than chicken thighs.
In recipes that use chicken breast I often use thighs instead to reduce the price still further. You never have to be a slave to the exact recipe ingredients, if you’re budget is tight.
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Quick Money saving tip
Scan Your Receipt Through fetch
When you’ve bought your ingredients for your meals, take 2 minutes to scan your receipt.
Fetch Rewards is a free grocery savings app that rewards you just for snapping pictures of your receipts. That’s really it.
It won’t reduce your grocery bill but you get free rewards on groceries on thousands of products every day, no matter where you get your groceries. Just scan your receipts to receive rewards.
Cook once eat twice
Whether you want cheap chicken dinners for two or many more, most recipes can be doubled or tripled depending on how many people you are feeding. But the size of your recipe can also be doubled in order for you to double up on your meals.
The term batch cooking makes it sound like you are cooking great vats of each recipe, but really you decide on the bulk. I often cook a double batch of a recipe so we can eat it that day and have it again another day.
Most meals can be frozen, if not then it will last in the fridge for a few days, perfect for getting a meal on the table within 15 minutes of arriving home late.
Cooking and preparing meals at home are made so much easier with the right kitchen tools. You don’t need lots of gadgets, just a few essentials that you can use time and again. These 4 are my essentials.
5 good Cheap chicken dinners: one pot easy meals
I’m not a great cook, I need simple recipes to follow and I’m not great at improvising. Being able to cook a meal in just one pot appeals to me because of it’s simplicity, and because there is less clearing away afterwards!
This is a very inexpensive meal. Rice is one of the cheapest foods you can buy, chicken is a very cheap protein add some broccoli and cheese and you are done. Even better though – it only takes 20 minutes, my perfect recipe!
This is a recipe where I will substitute chicken thighs for the breasts she suggests. Thighs have a lot of flavor and are half the price of breast. Lemony chicken is one of my favorite flavor combinations, second only to garlicky chicken. Serve with rice or potatoes and veggies.
Almost a one pot recipe as it’s all cooked together but technically there is a 2nd bowl in the prep stage. Either way, potatoes are super cheap, thighs the same, mixed together and this is one tasty meal. I would also substitute another cheese if you don’t have mozzarella to hand.
This is the perfect one pot quick meal for busy nights. Make double and pop the extra portions into your freezer for the following week.
Slow cooked chicken is so tender and with this recipe it’s totally coated in the gorgeous sauce, which you can either buy or make yourself. A burger bun and pickles finishes this meal off.
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5 quick Budget chicken recipes for busy nights
Coming home from work the last thing you want to do is stand in the kitchen for an hour or more. You’re hungry, you’re tired and you’ve got other things to organize. These budget chicken recipes are all ready in 30 minutes or less.
Not only that, with less prep time, there’s less mess made. So quick to prep and cook and quick to clear away afterwards.
30 mins to table for this delightful dish, that’s what I like. Made with leftover chicken (cheap!) and a ready made pasta sauce, you can always make your own pasta sauce but it will increase the prep time.
Another budget chicken dinner winner using leftover chicken. Perfect when you’ve had a Sunday roast. Throw all your ingredients on tops of the nachos and into the oven for some cooking. I like to add chili’s to spice these up.
A one pot meal ready in just 30 minutes. I would definitely add more garlic and other reviewers have suggested more sauce if you like a ‘wet’ stir fry. Yummy whatever additions you make.
In the UK this would be called a pasta bake and we call a casserole a stew. I like this recipe because it’s healthy and uses wholewheat pasta, something we always have instead of white pasta.
This a recipe I have made many a time because it is extremely simple. I tend to add extra veggies like carrots and broccoli and I usually use either chicken thighs or leftover chicken.
Fancy a meatless meal? Check out my post on easy cheap vegan recipes.
5 comforting Cheap chicken dinners
Comfort food, especially in winter is essential. For me this often involves either my slow cooker or pastry. My slow cooker because meals made in it are just so easy. And pastry because I love savory pastry in all forms. I know it’s not the healthiest meal you can make. But OMG savory pastry is the best!
Slow cooked chicken thighs with a sweet sauce is my kind of comfort food. I would serve this with creamy mashed potato (more comfort food) or brown rice.
Leftover chicken is so versatile, it makes sense to always have some. This recipe takes leftovers one step further and uses ALL your leftovers to make the most delicious pie, I do love a bit of pastry!
I use any potatoes I have and of course I use the cauliflower stalk too, waste not want not. I especially like this recipe for using the microwave to make the roux and sauce – less washing up and quicker.
I love 5 ingredient recipes but canned buttermilk biscuits are a US specific food. I’m not one to make dough or pastry (too much faff) so I would substitute ready made puff pastry. Not quite the same but just as tasty.
Chicken, spaghetti and a crunch cheese topping, mmmmm. This recipe makes 8 generous portions perfect for a bulk cook and freeze session.
Fancy something cold? Check out these completely irresistible sandwiches, you’ll be drooling over which one to make first!
Cheap meals with chicken FAQs
What to serve with chicken for dinner?
Many of these quick and easy chicken recipes are a full meal in themselves. No mandatory sides. But I know what you’re thinking, you want to add more vegetables and I can’t blame you.
More veggies turn all of these meals into healthy chicken recipes on a budget because you’ve got even more of your 5 a day. And you need less of the chicken dinner. win: win!
You can serve a nice green salads with many of these or vegetables as simple as (sweet)corn, peas or broccoli on the side. Choose your favorites and get eating!
What temperature should chicken be cooked to before eating?
Chicken should be cooked until the internal temperature is 165F. To make sure you cook it through thoroughly, use a meat thermometer.
How long will cooked chicken last in the refrigerator?
According to this article, cooked chicken can be stored for up to 4 days in your refridgerator. Personally I will store it a couple of days longer if necessary.
Please stick to the guidelines you feel most comfortable with. If you can’t use your cheap chicken meal within a few days then pop it in the freezer.
What about cheap chicken dinners for two people?
Most of these recipes will serve a family of 4. That means when you cook one of these recipes you are automatically batch cooking meals for the two of you! Cook once, eat twice. If you don’t want the same meal in the same week, freeze it! I do this all the time.
How to reduce salt in your recipes?
Salt is a flavor enhancer but too much salt is not great for your health. Going cold turkey and cutting out all salt could lead you to feeling that your food tastes bland.
Reducing the amount of salt you add to recipes (less than the recipe suggests) is best done a bit at a time. For lots more help on how to reduce salt in your dinner recipe check out this post.
What’s for dinner?
With these tasty cheap chicken dinner ideas, never again will you be trying to think what to have for dinner. You’ll have it ready to go in your slow cooker or on the stove top.
Frugal & cheap chicken dinners for all
There are a million and one different chicken recipes but these are my favorite. Simple, easy and mostly quick, they help me make delicious meals without slaving over the stove for hours or buying a multitude of expensive ingredients I use once and never again.
Choose your favorite cheap chicken dinners and get cooking – enjoy!
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Last Updated on 10th January 2022 by Emma