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How far can you make chicken stretch? My wife and I pondered this and we thought that with the combined power of meal planning, batch cooking and a budget, we were going to see how far we could make a chicken stretch. The challenge was simple – could we turn £15 worth of ingredients from Tesco into 15 meals for two people?
Making your ingredients stretch into multiple meals then you will need a meal plan. Check out my post on how to meal plan for more information on meal planning. My aim was to spend as little as possible but also making as many meals as possible with ingredients that would be used in multiple meals but also be readily available to anyone. Although we know you can get the ingredients a little cheaper from Aldi or Lidl, we decided to get our ingredients from Tesco, so that this post is relevant to lots of people – even those who haven't ventured into discount supermarkets! We did decide that we would use a selection of store cupboard ingredients, which you can find a list of below. The great thing about this experiment is that none of the ingredients were reduced – this means that anyone can turn £15 of ingredients into 15 meals for two people.
Full list of ingredients bought
- 1 whole chicken – £5.50
- Potatoes – £1.29
- Carrots – 45p
- Peas (frozen) – 69p
- Red Onions – 69p
- Peppers – 78p
- Garlic clove – 30p
- Sweetcorn (tinned) – 35p
- Pasta – 30p
- Rice – 45p
- Eggs (Free-range) – £1.75 (You can get the eggs cheaper but we would rather use free-range)
- Wraps – £1
- Cheese – £1.40
- Passata – 35p
Final cost = £15.30
Batch cooking to make chicken stretch
This was a hard yet very fun day in which Emma and myself were in the kitchen for several hours cooking and preparing all the meals that we could.
The chicken needed to be cooked first, since after all, it was the main ingredient to all of the meals we had planned, before allowing it to cool. We wanted to get the meat off first simply so we could see how much meat we would have left over to do meals with, as such I could do one of my favourite meal preparation activities which is cutting and pulling apart the chicken (making the chicken talk in a silly voice and singing is optional but I like to have fun). The legs were used for a delicious roast dinner (with Yorkshire puddings of course), leaving us with the breast, wings and other areas to cut off and break up into amounts for the meals. Even the bones were put to use after being stripped, thrown into pan with water and boiled for soup.
We had our meat and it was more than enough for the meals that we had planned, meaning that we could truly crack on with our batch cooking for the day!
Everything was in full go boiling the chicken bones, pasta and the rice. Chopping vegetables and mixing ingredients.
Since our freezers are still full up as most will know from reading my February goals & January results post we chose to give away the meals we made to family, something that you don't have to do when batch cooking since many of the meals you could keep in the fridge for a few days and be frozen for much longer.
The meals we made from one whole chicken
Each meal that we planned to do had to of course use chicken but also each ingredient had to be used at least twice across the meals to make as little wasted ingredients as possible. Several meals were rejected simply due to having to buy extra ingredients that wouldn't easily fit with the other meals or that used a lot of cupboard items that people wouldn't normally have.
We did this experiment with the assumption that you have the following store cupboard or staples in your kitchen:
- Spices and seasoning
Gravy is something that you can make buy just collecting the juices from the chicken, adding flour and boiling.
Here's a list of all the meals we made, separately into lunch and dinners (let's not start the Drew household debate of whether lunch is “lunch” or “dinner”. Here I mean lunch and the evening meal).
- Chicken pasta salad x 2 servings
- Chicken soup x3 servings
- Chicken wraps x2 servings
- Chicken egg fried rice x2 servings
- Chicken roast dinner with Yorkshire puddings
- Chicken pasta
- Chicken stir fry
- Chicken hot pot
- Chicken jambalaya
- Chicken pizza & wedges
What's more, we also got a bonus snack out of it! Emma used the potato peelings to make this delicious snack.
Here's how she made it:
- Peeled the potatoes with a knife and not a potato peeler (so that there was some flesh on the skins)
- Laid them out on a baking tray – they don't have to be neat!
- Sprayed with Frylight and seasoned with salt and pepper
- Baked in the oven for 20-25 minutes
- Grated cheese on the top is optional but delicious.
After all that cooking we still have leftover ingredients all ready for other meals. I am thinking of a cheesy omelette for breakfast as a little treat for Emma one morning.
I absolutely loved this challenge, it was incredibly fun to do and I feel that we didn't scrimp out on our serving sizes or amounts of chicken. This post shows you just how much you can make chicken stretch.