DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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9 November 2011

Chicken and vegetable casserole - cheap and easy

We all have our speciality dishes - those that we serve at great family celebrations, our favourite foods, meals that hold special memories for us, easy go-to meals that save us time and, of course, those thrifty meals that help us stay on track with our budgets and therefore living true to our values. One of my thrifty meals is this one - chicken and vegetable casserole. It's easy, delicious and it won't break the bank. The added bonus is that it freezes well. 

We bought these chicken drumsticks at Aldi for $3.72 - that is enough to do Hanno and me for two meals. When we see bargains like these, we grab a few packs because they store well in the freezer and we know that sure as eggs, they'll be used for this recipe or others.


The basis of the meal is chicken and vegetables and the vegetables can be anything you have in the fridge. I used onions (I use onions in everything I cook), carrots, celery and mushrooms, but it could just as easily have been parsnips, zucchini,  potatoes and pumpkin/squash.


  1. Remove the skin from the chicken.
  2. Brown the chicken in a pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika - as much or as little as you like. Take time browning the chicken because this is when you'll add a lot of flavour and that rich brown colour. 
  3. When the chicken is brown on all sides, add the vegetables and brown them as well.
  4. When you've got some good colour in the pan, add two level tablespoons of plain/all purpose flour and stir in. When that takes on some colour as well ...
  5. Add 2½ cups of water and stir in well. You can add chicken stock if you like but I tend to think it's a waste in this dish because you're using chicken on the bone - the slow cooking of that makes its own stock.
  6. Bring the pan up to the boil while you're stirring.
  7. When the sauce has thickened, add some herbs - I used parsley but you could use chives or thyme as well.
  8. Pour your meal into an oven-proof dish, put the lid on and put it in the oven.
  9. Cook on 170C/340F for an hour.
  10. Serve with rice.


This meal would have cost about $5.50 to make from start to finish. It is enough for four people, or for us, two meals. That's $1.37 per serve for a nutritious, tasty meal cooked from scratch with no preservatives. It think that's real value for money. If you made up a small pot of rice pudding and served that warm with some canned peaches or apricots, you'd easily feed a family of four a healthy meal for $10.

The trick with these cheap meals is to buy those meat or chicken specials when you see them. You don't have to eat what you buy immediately because it's great having these cheap protein portions in the freezer ready for an afternoon when you have time to make up a delicious casserole.

45 comments:

  1. Oh this is perfect timing I have some chicken sitting on my counter as I read this post. I will be making this delicious dish. It looks good and I am sure it is going to taste great. Thanks again. B

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  2. Rhonda, I love the look of that dish!
    Isn`t it great how the most frugal of meals can often be the most delicious. Casseroles are very cheap but tasty!!

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  3. Ooooooo... that looks yummy! As a recovering vegetarian, I am still trying to figure out what on earth to do with meat, so this sort of thing is extremely helpful! I think I'll be givin' it a try soon. Thanks!

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  4. Thanks Rhonda, I'll definitely give this one a try, it looks delicious.

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  5. That's pretty much what i did with our chicken casserole last night Rhonda, the family loved it....it always amazes me when i see so many 'chicken casserole' pkt mixes on the shelves at supermarkets......you still have to add everything so not sure why it is deemed the 'easy' option!!!
    Thanks for sharing such lovely photos and detail.
    Jode x

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  6. Yum yum in my tum!!! Lol :-)
    Thanks for sharing Rhonda!
    Love Lusi x

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  7. This is a wonderful recipe thank you for sharing.

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  8. Hi rhonda, I do something similar and if I am short of chicken I throw in a couple of pieces of bacon. Very tasty with a cobbler top too, Regards Julia in Bowen

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  9. hi rhonda!
    we love a good chicken casserole... i stopped eating caged chicken a while back in favour of free range... (a personal decision made by me for my family)... sadly and happily money is about to get very tight (we are buying our first house) and a tight grocery budget is high on the agenda with plans to pay back the mortgage in as little time as possible.... so i'm not sure free range chicken will be in our budget anymore :(
    thanks for the recipe!
    amy

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  10. Hi Rhonda, that meal looks really lovely! You are so right, there are many wonderful meals to make that are also budgetfriendly!
    Here in the Netherlands, the choice you have when it comes to chicken is either cheap, but very poor quality, and you can be sure it's full of antibiotics and other stuff you wouldn't want, or to buy really expensive organic/animalfriendly chicken. So for me, chicken has become something I serve on special occassions, just like in the old days: chicken was for sundays. I was wondering how that is in your country, since I know that you value quality products and the picture in my mind of Australia is that they wouldn't allow antibiotics and such in their meat. Am I right about that?
    bye, Annemarie

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  11. Annemarie, you are right. According to all the research I've done, Australian meat and chicken hasn't contained hormones for many years and there are strict codes for the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are never allowed to be used as a blanket precaution, only when a chicken is sick. There is much more free range chicken available here now and that's what we aim to buy all the time. The quality is quite good. When we see organic chicken in our price range (very rare) we buy it but generally we're happy with free range. I am guessing that the fish and pork in The Netherlands is still very good, it was when I was there. What's the beef like?

    I remember those old days when chicken was THE celebration meal. We usually only had it at Christmas or when my grandma chopped the head off one of her chooks.

    And for the Australian readers, Aldi has free range whole chickens on sale this week for $2.99 kg.

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  12. Hi Rhonda, any recipe containing the phrase "cheap and easy" is already a winner with me. :)

    I love recipes like this, because there is so much flexibility in the amount of veggies, meat, etc. I can still feed my large family (10 of us, with 8 regular eaters at meals) good food on a budget.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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  13. rhonda how long are the free range chickens on sale for? i'd love to stock up on some for our freezer!

    amy

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  14. I was just thinking the same as Anne Marie - good chicken is one of the pricier meats nowadays in Britain. I usually pay about £8 for a 1.8 (ish) kilo chicken. I make sure it stretches a l-o-o-ng way but it still scares me at the checkout!
    I bought some liver this week (cheap as can be) but have to confess I've no idea about the quality of liver as a meat. Always delicious and that's usually a good quality indicator...
    :-)
    Karen (Scotland)

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  15. Rhonda, I made this tonight for dinner for my family and it was delicious! For the veggies, I used potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and mushrooms. For the herbs, I used fresh Thyme. I love how flavorful it was without any addition of bouillon or any other junk for that matter. This one is definitely a keeper, thanks for sharing!

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  16. Oh I love a yummy recipe.

    Thanks Rhonda, I got some drumsticks on special the other day, so will do this recipe when this humid weather goes away :)

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  17. This looks delicious! I have some chicken in the freezer I've been wondering how to cook. Thanks for the recipe, I will give it a try!

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  18. Trying this recipe tonight Rhonda. Thanks so much it looks so good. Will let you how the big fellow likes it.

    Blessings Gail

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  19. It looks so yummy!!!!!!!!!! This is a very good recipe, great taste and great value. You've been able to cook a complete dish. The price you indicate is very convenient, but different from Italy. Take care, Clara.

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  20. Oh yum! That sounds looks wonderful! Definitely going in my to-cook list this week!

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  21. Just finished our chicken and vegie casserole. It's a winner. Thanks Rhonda.

    Blessings Gail

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  22. I love chicken and this looks delicious! I was just like Annemarie thinking that it would be a pricy meal for us. I pay around 8 euros for 500 grams of chicken breast (organic). It's good to hear that in Australia things are different and you can buy free range foods at Aldi! (here, I cannot imagine it). Maybe, things will change for us too...

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  23. Hi Rhonda sounds devin. Just bought half a dozen chichens were £4 reduced to £2.75 so will joint and tweek this delish sounding recipe for my ravinous lot. Glad to here the book is out soon and please tel me if I can order a signed copy from you and If you would post to the uk please?
    keeep up the good work as you enhance my much reduced budget with your wisdom. all the best to Hanno and family
    Rachel u,k

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  24. That looks like a tasty dish.

    Couldn't agree more with the idea of bulk buying items when they're on special. My husband despairs of me trundling through the house twice a week with bags of food bargains for the freezer, but if there's something we eat regularly discounted it makes sense to stock up. I've brought our weekly shop down by 40% doing it this way.

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  25. My family used to swear by the local butcher & his free range chicken thighs, but now they think aldi chicken is the bees knees and that's against coles woolworths franklins,blue river meats and a lot of local butchers including the free range suppliers

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  26. I think I will try that this evening looks great! Rhonda I was wondering if you could help me find something in your blog? It was under Ridged Ribbon Dishcloth and Biscuit Recipe, I wanted to make the dish cloth again but can't find it
    Thanks
    Kim

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  27. Well, has it been a long time since you have been in the Netherlands, Rhonda? I'm not feeling to positive about our meat, at least not what you can buy at the supermarket, and that is where most people buy there meat. The latest thing here is 'flats' for pigs, so the 'farmers' can have thousands and thousands of pigs on a smaller surface. Can you imagine that, a pig on the third floor...in concrete stables, on a chain when in labour, so they can not even turn around to lick theri newborn babies...just sad! Ofcourse there are action groups here trying to change the circumstances of the animals and trying to convince supermarkets to sell 'better' meat, but in general, it is going slowly, slowly. Same for beef, I guess. We have a word here for cheap meat: 'kilo knallers', and sad enough, Dutch people love a great deal more than anything else...Fish...also not what it used to be. Too much has been fished out of the sea and I think fishing methods haven't been very careful for the environment just to catch some more...sorry, this is very long. It's just not a very pretty picture and it seems that not enough people care about change, so it always is a struggle. Of course there are good producers and farmers around, it just isn't the norm yet, and far from it, makes me sad sometimes...

    Annemarie

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  28. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I love to learn simple, nutritious and inexpensive ways of preparing food for my family. Please share more of your recipes!

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  29. rachel, I'll send it to anyone who orders the book.

    Kim, http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2009/11/ridged-ribbon-dishcloth-and-biscuit.html The best way to find anything that doesn't come up on the search bar here is to go to the main google search, type in "down to earth blog -------" with whatever you're trying to find. Usually it will come up. So for this I typed in "down the earth blog ridged ribbon".

    Annmarie, that's really sad. I was last in your country many years ago in 1980.

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  30. Thank you so much. I love when you post your recipes! Pat/Texas

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  31. It looks so good. I just made my Aldi run today and I have everything I need to make this dish for tomorrow.

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  32. Now I'm really hungry! We're having butter chicken tonight made from scratch that I cooked a few weeks ago and froze. It's a delicious recipe that my two small children like, too :-)

    Anna

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  33. Thanks Rhonda for the recipe, good old fashion home cooking. Dianne

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  34. Great recipe.. We are on a very tight food budget but quality meat is one area I refuse to compromise on. I find the cheapest way to eat chicken is to buy the Aldi free range chickens and joint them myself. I have two small children so I wait till I have my mum here for the day to watch them and I spend a few hours jointing and bagging up chicken portions for the freezer. The cost of a whole chicken is comparable to a tray of breasts, and you get the legs thighs wings and carcass for free basically- I get three dinners per bird and am always looking for ways to spice up the 'boring' dinner of legs. The carcasses make great stock which in turn makes a really cheap and easy chicken soup or risotto. I will be buying five or six chickens from aldi when they are on sale!

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  35. Found the dish cloth, thanks for the help! I tried your recipe last night we had it with potatoes, parsnips and onions really good! :)
    Thanks Kim

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  36. Hi Rhonda,
    This sounds wonderful, I don't cook with legs much bu I'm trying to use more bone-in meat (my husband says it feels more like eating "real" meat) and I am definitely going to give this a try.

    I can't wait to get your book, too, your blog is so useful to me!

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  37. Dear Rhonda, I made your chicken and vegetable casserole this week. Delicious, and I liked the fact that you used the chicken thighs with the bone in. Made a lovely stock. And I was able to use up a medley of veggies from my allotment. Jean, Brisbane

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  38. I love your blog Rhonda and I'm reading backwards. I read the post on your chickens and how every living animal deserves to live. Then I scroll down and find cheap chicken legs. I must say I raised my eyebrows. I'm sure you know how these chickens were raised. Do you not have a conflict with it or is it something you just didn't think about? I know you went back to eating meat and I'm surprised you don't buy free-range.

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  39. A hearty thank you! I just made this with onions, mushrooms, eggplant and green beans. The BEST chicken dish I've ever made - of course, I've only been eating meat for a few months now, but still... Thanks again!

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  40. Libby, I am far from perfect. We do buy free range when we can, we also buy locally slaughtered meat. Like many folk, we do what we can but if we're going to eat meat at all, it will always be what we can afford to buy on that day.

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  41. I have to concur with Libby. I'm not perfect either, but chickens bred in cages in Australia are basically tortured for their entire hellish lives. They have the size of an A4 piece of paper to move in, are often in constant pain from osteoporosis, and exist in hellholes alongside the corpses of chickens who have succumbed. I think it's sad that you're encouraging your readers to eat non accredited free range chicken. Free range chicken can be very reasonably priced at markets, and of course there are cheap parts of the chicken, eg chicken wings, for those on budgets.

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  42. Thank you for this casserole recipe!In a perfect world we would all have solar heating, hybrid cars and be able to afford free range produce.The world is not perfect.I applaude Rhonda for what she is doing to make us self sufficient and better homemakers!

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  43. Wonderful recipe, first time i
    Made chicken stew tasted lovely!

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  44. This looks great! I'm putting it on my menu plan for next week. One question though - if you use chicken from the freezer to make this, could you then freeze the leftover casserole?

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    1. If your saying you'll use a frozen, uncooked chicken to make this, then yes, it's fine to freeze the casserole for later.

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