$2 food-budget saviours: 3 winner-winner (cheap) chicken dinners

Here's how chicken is saving my food budget

Compilation image of money and Nicole holding a pack of food-budget-friendly chicken
Chicken has now become a food-budget-friendly staple. (Source: Getty/supplied)

The cost-of-living crisis has seen the price of eggs surge but, in an interesting twist to the “what came first” riddle, supermarkets have simultaneously slashed the price of chicken.

Woolworths, for example, cut the cost of roast chicken portions to $6 per kilo, from $8 per kilo and, last week, a whole chicken was even cheaper, at just $4 a kilo. Meanwhile, Aldi is selling a boneless butterflied chicken in multiple gourmet flavours for $9.99.

Also by Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

And certain cuts of chicken are always far more budget-friendly than others – think thighs, drumsticks and wings.

Of course, we first copped a chicken price hike, with inflation and staff shortages increasing production costs, like with everything else. Across all food and non-alcoholic beverages, our bills have increased by 7.5 per cent in the year to June, according to the latest consumer price index figures.

So, to help fight back against the rising cost of everything, here are my three low-cost chicken recipes your family (and your bank balance) will love.

1. My $1.85 chicken and chorizo triumph

I mentioned this one in a recent column about my family’s four favourite discount dinners and have been inundated with recipe requests. Here are the ingredients – and cost – to serve eight, or a family of four twice, (it reheats in the oven beautifully):

$10.21: 1.8kg roast chicken pieces

$1.50: 1 mild chorizo

$0.30: ½ a lemon

$2.00: 1/4 cup olives

$0.40: 2 tbs butter

$0.20: 1 chicken stock cube

$0.20: 1 tbs paprika

Parsley garnish - from the garden

Total cost: $14.61, or $1.85 per serving.

Here’s how to cook it:

  • Arrange your chicken portions side-by-side and skin side up in an oiled baking dish

  • Sprinkle over one finely chopped chorizo

  • Position small lemon wedges and your olives in the valleys throughout

  • Pour over the melted butter and mix with a crumbled chicken stock cube and enough water to make it up to roughly 1/4 cup

  • Shake across your smoked paprika

  • Bake at 180 degree for 45 minutes or until cooked.

I serve with whatever is in season, and therefore on sale - such as mashed sweet potato and broccoli at the moment, which adds around 50 cents a portion.

Big thanks to Better Homes and Gardens chef Karen Martini for the inspiration for this dish - while her version is more elaborate, my Mum has a warning about mine: “If you cook things this good, you won’t save any money - you’ll have too many guests…”

2. Fund-tastique $1.45 French onion drumsticks

A slow cooker works beautifully for this family-favourite recipe, making a hero of the humble (and easy on the hip pocket) drumstick. You can serve at least six people – possibly eight – with just these bargain ingredients:

$0.25: 1 onion

$5.65: 1.5kg of chicken drumsticks

$0.45: 40g packet French onion soup mix

$0.10: 1tbs Worcestershire sauce

$0.20: 1 chicken stock cube

$2.00: 400g tin of crushed tomatoes

Total cost: $8.65, or $1.45 per serving.

I like it with old-school, high-carb mashed potato and frozen peas, which will add around 75 cents each.

Here’s how to cook it:

  • Slice and spread the onion across the bottom of a slow cooker

  • Arrange chicken drumsticks in a single layer so they fit nicely on top

  • Sprinkle over the French onion soup mix (dry)

  • Pour on your Worcestershire as evenly as possible

  • Crumble the stock cube into the water and add this to the slow cooker next

  • Finish with the tin of tomatoes.

  • Cook on low for six hours.

If you’d like, you can remove the drumsticks, keep warm, and thicken the sauce with flour and water, but if you want to serve it with budget-friendly pasta, the luscious runny sauce is perfect as is.

3. Aldi’s 3-ingredient budget butterfly chicken

This all-in-one, three-ingredient one-dish wonder is very straightforward. The ingredients for my version to serve four are:

$9.99: 1 ALDI boneless butterfly chicken

$0.50: 1 cup of rice

$0.40: 2 chicken stock cubes

Total cost: $10.89, or $2.75 per portion.

Here’s how to cook it:

  • Spread the rice evenly across the bottom of a greased baking dish

  • Arrange the uncooked butterfly chook flattened out over the top (skin side up if applicable)

  • Crumble the two chicken stock cubes into the two cups of water and pour evenly all over the top of the baking dish

  • Bake this, uncovered, in a 180-degree oven for 45 minutes or until cooked.

A final food-saving thought

Two final words on meals if you’re channelling your '70s alter ego to save, like I have been: Apricot chicken. If it still takes your fancy today, give it a Google. That and all of the above are winner-winner - cheap - chicken dinners.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at www.nicolessmartmoney.com. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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