I know that it’s all the rage to be able to stretch one chicken into 5 meals, but I need to be realistic…
My teenagers are hungry, especially after 2 1/2 hour taekwondo classes. They could easily scarf an entire chicken themselves, but at the rate of $12-$14 each from our Whole Foods Store, that doesn’t fly.
So, I make 3 whole chickens and stretch them into 6 meals, feeding 5 of us each time. Here are my 6 budget stretching chicken recipes!
In this post, I’ll tell you about my favorite budget-stretching chicken recipes.
I’ve provided cooking instructions for my favorite seven (the first seven) along with links on where to find detailed cooking and prep information for the rest. I’ll give you everything you need to know!
Why Buy Whole Chickens?
When it comes to preparing dinner, many people can face a number of common challenges. From trimming and deboning to cooking and seasoning, cooking a whole chicken can seem like an overwhelming task.
However, there are several benefits to choosing whole chickens over pre-packaged cuts.
Firstly, buying whole chickens is much more cost-effective than purchasing separate portions.
This is because the entire chicken is priced per pound rather than each individual part. In addition, using the entire chicken allows you to save time and effort by using every part of the animal in your cooking.
Whether it’s roasting or simmering your whole chicken, you know that you’ll be getting all of the delicious juiciness and flavor of this popular protein in every bite.
So next time you’re shopping for groceries, why not try picking up a whole chicken instead? Your taste buds will thank you!
Before you start cooking, you’ve got to prepare the whole chicken.
Start by cutting up the chicken.
Most people like to cook the whole chicken first, but for me, I like to cut them up into pieces to better use them. Then, I take the different pieces and make these recipes…
Budget-Stretching Chicken Recipes
1. Sweet and Sour Chicken
- I use four of the six chicken breasts for this meal, and cut into bite sized pieces.
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup cornstarch, mixed with 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups cornstarch, for breading the chicken
- oil for frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by rolling the chicken pieces in the cornstarch, and chilling for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring your oil (coconut or tallow preferred) to 375° F, and place the chicken pieces in to cook. They will take about 5 minutes to cook through and brown.
- Place on a plate and keep warm.
- In a separate pan, heat 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, and gently fry the onions and green pepper.
- Add salt and pepper over the veggies.
- After 2 minutes, add the pineapple chunks, juice, brown sugar, chicken stock and vinegar and bring to a boil.
- As it is boiling, carefully stir in the cornstarch water, and allow it to thicken while you continually stir. This should happen rather quickly.
- Place chicken over precooked rice, and ladle sauce over all.
2. Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Take the remainder of the breasts and cut into bite size chunks and cook over medium heat until done. Next take:
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until sweated out. Add the flour and stir, forming a roux paste. Stir in the milk and cook over medium high heat until thick. To this mixture, add in:
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 additional cup milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- cooked chicken
- Take 1/4 cup of the mixture each time and place in the center of a tortilla, either flour or corn. Roll up like a burrito. Continue until all the tortillas are filled.
- Pour the leftover sauce mixture over the top of the tortillas and top with additional shredded cheese.
- Bake at 350 F until golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. You can also wrap tightly and freeze before baking to save for another time.
- To use a frozen dish, simply place in the oven frozen for 45 minutes at 350 F. Top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and additional shredded cheese for serving.
3. Homestyle Baked Chicken
Rub each quarter with mayo and sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika liberally. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes, or until juices run clear. This usually makes enough that we can stretch it into 2 meals, if I add mashed potatoes, vegetables and dinner rolls.
4. Chicken Broth
(using 3 backs, I can easily make 2 gallons of broth easily)
- Roast the backs in a 400° F oven for 30 minutes. Add to a large stock pot with 2 gallons of water.
- I usually toss in a couple of carrots, a few celery stalks, 2 onions, some salt, pepper, three to five cloves of garlic and 3-5 bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10-12 hours. I leave mine overnight, but if you are worried about open flames, you can use a crockpot on low, or just do it when you are awake.
- Drain the veggies and chicken backs and you can compost them at this point.
The broth is excellent for drinking as is, or as a base for other soups, gravies, or risotto. Here are two great recipes to use broth for:
5. Chicken Noodle Soup
I like to use “leftovers” of the chicken, or the ugly parts for soup. I will poach it in some hot broth for about 20 minutes, remove and shred it. Then, start your soup!
- 5 large carrots, cut into coins
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- In a large stock pot, heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots and stir fry for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze the pan and simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Add in the chicken broth and simmer until the veggies are tender.
- Add in shredded chicken, and bring broth to a boil.
- Cook noodles directly in the broth and serve when al dente.
- Serve with fresh home baked bread!
6. Kale and Rice with Chicken Broth
- 2 pounds hamburger
- 2 cups rice (I used white here, but you can use brown just as easily)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 cups loosely packed kale, washed and chopped (you can also use fresh spinach or swiss chard, or other greens)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 2 T. oil of choice (coconut, tallow, etc.)
- Begin by heating a skillet on medium high heat.
- Add the oil of choice and when it begins to “shine”, add the garlic, onions, salt and pepper to the skillet.
- Stir to brown for about 3 minutes.
- Add the hamburger and brown with the veggies.
- Add rice, kale and chicken broth.
- Stir to wilt the kale and bring to a boil.
- Turn heat to low, and simmer until rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the nutritional yeast and serve!
7. Kohlrabi and Chicken
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T coconut oil, or tallow
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 4 small kohlrabi, peeled
- 2 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ and sliced thin
- salt, pepper, parsley
- 2 cups white rice
- 6 cups broth, divided
- Start by bringing 4 cups of broth with the rice to a boil.
- Turn to medium low heat to cook. Next, peel the kohlrabi.
- The outer edge is rather woody, and that makes it rather inedible.
- Slice in thin coins.
- Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons tallow or coconut oil and add garlic and onion. Season with salt and pepper and sweat for about 3 minutes. Add the kohlrabi and stir well to combine.
- Lay the chicken breast strips across the veggie mixture, and pour the remaining broth around in the pan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until kohlrabi is soft and chicken is steam cooked through.
- Top with parsley, and serve over cooked rice.
8. Chicken Pizza
With a little creativity and some simple ingredients, it is actually possible to make quick and delicious meals that won’t break the bank.
One great option is chicken pizza: all you need is some pizza dough or flatbread, some chicken breast and your favorite toppings.
For a cajun flair, you’ve got to give this recipe a try when it comes to using up all of that chicken.
Chicken pot pie is one of my favorite comfort foods – and you can use just about any cut from your whole chicken to make this recipe work.
Pasta salad is a summertime staple around my house, and this recipe puts leftover chicken to good use in it. Try this chicken pasta salad recipe next time you need a potluck dish!
This recipe is perfect for leftover chicken.
A springtime classic – this chicken and pea pasta tastes undeniably fresh.
Whether you prefer Mediterranean flavors or hearty comfort food, there are plenty of ways to create delicious and satisfying meals using simple ingredients and minimal effort.
One great option? This chicken and asparagus risotto – it’s perfect for spring!
What is chicken mornay you ask? Well, for starters, it’s absolutely delicious – and a great way to stretch your dinnertime budget a bit further. Here’s a recipe.
We love chicken curry around here!
Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Does it matter? Try this chicken quiche recipe out for size.
This dish is healthy and flavorful. First, brown chicken breasts in a bit of olive oil until cooked through. Then, add a jar of salsa and a can of black beans to a slow cooker and stir to combine.
Add the chicken breasts to the slow cooker and let everything cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. When the chicken is cooked through, shred it with a fork or chop it into bite-sized pieces, then bake it into your quesadillas. Easy peasy!
If you love chicken curry but are craving some lighter fare, this curry chicken salad should do the trick.
What is chicken bog, you might ask? It uses basic rotisserie chicken along with simple ingredients like parmesan cheese and white rice.
Ah, more comfort food. Yes please! Give this recipe a try.
If you love chicken soup but are getting sick of the old stand-by, you might want to give this easy alternative a try.
For the enchiladas, start by heating up a bit of olive oil in a large skillet. Add a bag of frozen spinach and cook until thawed.
Stir in a can of diced tomatoes (undrained), a tablespoon of chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices are slightly reduced.
To assemble the enchiladas, spread some spinach mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top with shredded chicken and shredded cheese, then roll up the tortillas and place them seam-side down in a baking dish.
Pour a jar of enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve warm!
I’m best friends with my slow cooker- it’s a great way to save both time and money! You’ve got to try out this slow cooker salsa chicken!
If you love stir fry but aren’t a fan of all the carbs, give this cauliflower chicken swap a try.
This chicken salad is light enough to feel refreshing without being too heavy, yet zesty and flavorful enough to make you feel indulgent. Give the recipe a try!
I love a good pizza but the same old recipes can get boring. Not this one!
It’s like a cobb salad – but with tasty chicken and pasta thrown in.
If you’re sick of regular beef tacos, give these chicken tacos a try.
Here’s a simple chicken fried rice recipe to try.
Another fun chicken salad recipe – a bit spicy, too!
These tasty Greek chicken pitas are sure to spice up your weekend dinner regimen.
A little spicy, a little sweet – definitely flavorful! You’ve got to try this creole chicken out for size.
These BBQ chicken sandwiches are perfect for using up leftover chicken – and you can even make them in the crockpot!
This teriyaki chicken is sure to be a hit.
If you’re trying to use up all of your fresh basil from this year’s garden – and get rid of that leftover chicken – this creamy pesto chicken should be your go-to.
For a quick weeknight dinner, give these sheet pan chicken fajitas a try.
This recipe tastes great over potatoes, pasta, rice, or anything else you have in mind!
If you love chicken wings but don’t love all the extra fat and calories, you’ll appreciate this recipe.
It’s like chicken soup, but even heartier.
This refreshing salad comes together quickly – and it stores well, so you can take the leftovers for lunch the next day, too.
Kale is everybody’s favorite superfood, and combined with chicken, this salad packs a real nutritional punch. Give it a try!
This recipe is definitely not lacking in the flavor department!
This zesty recipe is great for using up leftover chicken breasts or thighs!
These tasty chicken strips only taste bad for you. They’re actually quite healthy!
This sheet pan recipe is easy to whip up on a busy weeknight.
I’m a big fan of lemon pepper – I’d put it on everything if I could! But for now, I’ll start with these tasty chicken breasts.
Again, this is another chicken recipe that only tastes like it’s bad for you!
If you’re sick of the typical buffalo wings for wing night, give these honey mustard wings a try.
You might think it’s odd to marinate chicken thighs in yogurt, but you’ll love the results. Give this simple recipe a try!
I love chicken noodle soup – but I’ll admit, it’s loaded with carbs! Try this healthier swap.
These crispy honey lemon chicken thighs are easy to whip up – especially if you use the airfryer!
Throw this on the grill for an even faster, budget-stretching meal!
This creamy mushroom chicken is a great way to use up all of your leftover chicken!
This cranberry chicken tastes so festive!
Garlic is a staple in my household – and this marinated chicken makes cooking with it as easy as can be!
One pot means fewer dishes to wash – a big win in my book! Give this budget-stretching recipe a try.
A simple BBQ chicken recipe for you to enjoy and appreciate.
Here’s another enchilada recipe you’re sure to love.
Meatballs are my favorite, and if you have lots of chicken to use up, this recipe is perfect.
Another simple pizza recipe to try!
This broccoli cheddar chicken salad is loaded with nutrients!
This creamy chicken and rice skillet will take dinnertime to the next level – I promise!
Who doesn’t love ramen?
Another tasty chicken bake to try!
This casserole tastes great any time of the year – but especially those days when winter seems like it will never stop dragging on!
Here’s another fun chicken recipe to try.
No, no – not chicken pizza again. This is pizza chicken – check this recipe out and you’ll see what I mean!
These chicken sandwiches remind me of the ones I’d get at my favorite fast food restaurant – but of course, they’re way healthier!
You’ll have to go one step further with this recipe and grind the chicken into sausage – but trust me, it’s totally worth it.
Here’s a recipe.
This recipe only sounds fancy.
Again, another one-pot chicken recipe to simplify your life!
If you have kids in the house, you’ll love that this recipe is a total crowd pleaser.
Here’s another fun way to use up that chicken! Shred it for the easiest cooking.
This recipe calls for skinless chicken breasts and some white wine, along with a few other basic ingredients. Give it a try!
When it comes to frugal cooking, few ingredients are as versatile and useful as chicken. This lean and nutrient-dense protein is incredibly easy to prepare, whether you roast, grill, or pan-fry it.
And thanks to its mild flavor and hearty texture, chicken can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from soups and curries to tacos and pasta sauces.
What’s more, because chicken tends to be fairly affordable, it is a great choice for those on a budget.
Whether you are looking for ways to reduce your food costs or simply want more quick and healthy meal options, chicken is the perfect ingredient for any frugal cook!
So, there you have it – our top tips for budget-friendly chicken recipes. We hope you’ll give them a try and let us know how they turn out!
updated 05/06/2022 by Rebekah Pierce
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.
Learn more about Heather and the rest of the writers on this page.