I have been getting a lot of emails from people who want quick and easy recipes that are cheap. So for now on, I am going to devote thursdays to cheap eats.  In this economy people want to save money and an easy way to do that is by cooking at home. Cheap food does not have to be bad either. For instance I made this chicken bake for $6.74, or $1.69 per person. I purchased the ingredients on sale and that was the reason why it was so cheap. For instance, instead of having to purchase cheese, which is not cheap, I purchased frozen vegetables in cheese sauce. They were on sale for $1.49 a bag. I used half a bag of broccoli and half a bag of cauliflower in this recipe for a total of $1.49. Sure beats buying cheese at $3 for a 8 oz bag. 

Chicken bake for less than a $1.70 a serving.
Chicken bake for less than a $1.70 a serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of chicken – I purchased 3lbs of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for $9.99.  Cost for recipe $3.33.
  • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup – I purchased the store brand for $0.67.
  • 12 oz of milk – I purchased a gallon for $3.49, Cost for recipe $0.33.
  • 2/3 pound of pasta – I purchased a pound of mini bowtie pasta in the supermarket for $0.99. Cost for recipe $0.66.
  • 1/2 bag of frozen broccoli in cheese sauce – Purchased on sale for $1.49 a bag.  Cost for recipe $0.745.
  • 1/2 bag of frozen cauliflower in cheese sauce – Purchased on sale for $1.49 a bag.  Cost for recipe $0.745.
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or crushed saltines – Purchased a 4 cup can of bread crumbs for $0.99.  Cost for recipe $0.06.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flake (optional or you can add a little extra, up to you)
  • 1 tbs dried parsley
  • I rounded up for the price of the spices as they were already in my cupboard and the price for a cup of water is negligible.  I guessed on the high side $0.20.
  • Total Price: $6.74 or $1.69 per person for a family of four.

The first step is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

The second step cut up the chicken into strips.  I know that everyone usually puts the chicken in whole when they make a casserole, but I like to have my chicken throughout the casserole.  Plus then you don’t have to divide the chicken amongst the family, it is already portioned.  Then pour the cream of mushroom soup, water, milk and spices into a 9×13 casserole dish and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. 

Mix until the soup is not lumpy any more
Mix until the soup is not lumpy any more

Then add the pasta, chicken and frozen vegetables to the dish. Mix until everything is coated.

As you can see the cheese sauce from the veggies is frozen into squares.
As you can see the cheese sauce from the veggies is frozen into squares.

Then bake for 25 minutes.  The chicken bake should be slightly brown.  Remove from the oven and add the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle them all over the top of the dish.

Layer the bread crumbs all over the top of the dish
Layer the bread crumbs all over the top of the dish

Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the bread crumbs are a golden brown.

As you can see the breadcrumbs come out perfectly golden
As you can see the breadcrumbs come out perfectly golden

Let cool for a couple of minutes and then serve.  The dish is tasty, quick and easy.

Tastes like a $10 meal and not a $1.69 meal.
Tastes like a $10 meal and not a $1.69 meal.

This dish is pretty flexible.  If you can not find frozen veggies that are already in cheese sauce add a half cup of cheese to the mix.  Buy whatever veggies are on sale.  If they have mixed veggies, green beans, corn, etc.  Almost any vegetable will work.  Same with the meat.  If chicken is not on sale use pork, turkey or even tuna.  If they have pie crusts on sale, place that over the top of the casserole dish before baking to make a quick and easy pot pie.  If you use a pie crust, brush it lightly with melted butter to get a golden brown crust. 

Overall this dish was tasty.  Since it make enough for 4-5 people I will be eating it for a couple of days.  Not sure if I will love it as much as I do now, in two days, but we will see.  Hope this gives you guys some ideas for quick, easy and affordable meals.  Enjoy.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

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