Budget Meal: Simple Chicken and Rice
Chicken and rice is considered by many people as the the ultimate in southern comfort food. It is, also, one of the easiest and cheapest family meals to prepare. Although it is often cooked in the oven as a casserole, I prefer to make it on the stove due to time constraints. Most chicken and rice casseroles take an hour and a half to prepare and cook. This recipe can easily be created within 30 to 45 mins, which includes cooking the chicken from a raw, frozen state if necessary. This recipe is definitely quick and easy making it a perfect meal after a long day of work.
Chicken and rice that is easy and quick to prepare is a wonderful thing, but there is more to this story. How about a meal that is less than $1.25 per serving? Yes, I said less than $1.25 a serving, maybe even $1 a serving. The best thing about this recipe is the fact that it is extremely budget friendly. Although the cost may change due to sales and prices of items, i can usually create this meal for around $5 to $6. Since this recipe feeds around 5 servings that equals $1 to $1.20 a serving.
- 2 to 4 pieces of chicken breast, boneless, skinless
- 4 cups of water
- Butter to taste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups of white rice, any brand is acceptable
Although we often have biscuits and gravy with chicken and rice, it is very easy to add a couple of vegetables to this meal. Slim down the portion size of the rice and gravy, add a large salad or sauteed vegetables for a healthy low calorie meal.
- Instructions for chicken If using canned or cooked chicken pulled off the bone, skip first two steps and add chicken with the rice.
- Place frozen chicken into frying pan. Cover and cook on medium to medium high. Seasoning the chicken is not necessary.
- When chicken can be pierced by a fork, remove a piece at a time and cube. Return chicken to the pan to continue cooking until completely done. It should be done at the same time as the rice.
- Instructions for rice
- While frozen chicken is cooking, pour four cups of water into a large pot
- Add the butter and salt to the water, if desired.
- Bring water to a boil and then add 2 cups rice.
- Turn to simmer and cover pot.
- Cook for 15 to 20 mins until rice is tender.
- Add cubed chicken and any desired seasonings (salt, pepper, butter or gravy) to the cooked rice. Stir well and serve.
A variety of chicken types can be utilized in this recipe so go with whatever is on sale. There have been times when I have only used one or two pieces. Here are some tips for keeping this recipe budget friendly.
- Purchase bagged, frozen chicken breasts when they are buy one, get one free. Confirm that the bag states "Individually Frozen", this allows for multiple meals out of one bag. My family can usually get two to three meals per bag.
- Check out the "almost out-of-date" sales on the fresh meat aisle. These large packs can be separated and froze for future use. Usually, I will fry most of the breasts while they are fresh and freeze the rest. Usually one to two pieces will be left over.
- Buy canned chicken, such as Hormel Premium Chicken Breast, when it is on buy one, get free sale. Be sure to check for coupons. I often purchase these cans for .75 each after double coupons.
- Purchase whole chickens when they are less than $1 a pound. Boil it and pull the meat off the bone, when time allows. Separate the chicken into baggies and freeze them. If used with rice, pasta or casseroles, one whole chicken can usually make three different meals. This has the extra benefit of being a time saver. Toss one bag of chicken, removed from the bag first, into the rice pot before it boils. The chicken will warm up while the rice is cooking.
- Finally, change the amount of chicken used. There have been times when I have made this recipe with only one or two pieces of chicken.