Eating away from home is supposed to be a treat and not a staple, right? Each time I hear that families turn to fast food as a supposed cheaper alternative to a home cooked meal I shake my head in disbelief. Yesterday while browsing on one of those social sites I saw a comparison made involving a fast food meal, homemade chicken and potato meal, and a beans and rice meal.

A chicken and potato meal was on the menu for supper last night so I decided to do a cost analysis of the foods I had on hand. This meal took me 30 minutes to prepare, and that included thawing the chicken in the microwave. The only advance prep I did was to pound the boneless, skinless chicken breasts before freezing. I prepared the meal for a family of three but did the cost analysis for a family of four. I could have added carrots as an additional vegetable for minimal additional cost.

I prepared my “French” chicken, microbaked potatoes with chives, and a romaine salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. I even had a fancy garnish of chive flowers for the salad. We drink water or iced tea with our suppertime meal. Even if serving children a glass of milk with this meal, it still would be really frugal. If we were meant to drink soda or pop, it would fall from the sky. I can feel the daggers, soft drink lovers. My husband is a Mt. Dew fan.

Put a little olive oil in your pan and start to cook your thawed chicken.

Season your chicken with a little onion powder and tarragon. Remember to season both sides. No one likes one-sided tasting food. 😉

When your chicken is almost done you can make a sauce right in the same pan.

Put the Dijon mustard, to taste, in the pan. Add a little cream or milk to thin it out and stir. Finish cooking the chicken in the sauce. Young children may prefer honey mustard.

While your chicken is cooking, scrub and prick your potatoes and microwave them for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Wash your greens and dress with a little olive oil and vinegar.

Dinner is served. My piece of chicken looks a little skimpy, but you have to remember that a serving size of meat is the size of a deck of cards. I’m trying to cut back on calories so I gave my husband the larger piece and half of my potato. He had leftovers to take to work as we only have a family of three. I filled up on a second helping of salad.

$2.50     2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to even thickness $1.99/lb

$1.26     3 medium organic, yukon gold potatoes

$.67       1 romaine heart

$.25       olive oil

$.08       vinegar

$.05        onion powder

$.10        dried tarragon

$.07        Dijon mustard

$.04        organic 1% milk

$.08        4 tsp butter

$.00        chives from herb garden

$5.10      Total

We spend $15 to $25 on a fast food meal for a family of four, depending on if we happen to have high value coupons. Fast food is an option, not a necessary choice to save money or time.

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