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Five Ingredients, A Week’s Worth of Recipes

Posted on 16th Feb, 2011 by Heather Sokol
Roasted Chicken

The Challenge: Create a week’s menu from only five ingredients

If you are menu planning with an eye to grocery savings, you should choose recipes with overlapping ingredients. This way, you can create multiple recipes with fewer purchases. Chicken is one of my favorite choices for versatility.

It can be roasted, baked, fried, grilled, and shredded for use in dozens of recipes. You can even boil the carcass to create your own broth for use in soups, stews & casseroles. Chicken pairs great with potatoes & carrots – more awesome, flexible ingredients.

If you need to pare down your grocery list to the bare minimum, these are the fresh ingredients I would stock. Just add cheese & garlic, and you’ve got the makings of a full menu plan. (Assuming, of course, that you already have basics like flour, salt, pepper, milk, and butter.)

Search & Compare the Options

With Foodily’s search, you can find recipes that include any combination of the items on hand. Compare chicken recipes, delete items you do not have at home and create your own menu all in one place. It’s a great way to find recipes with similar ingredients that you can mix through the week or even combine for your own adaptation.

It’s how we recently enjoyed Chicken Week – seven nights of dinner from only five ingredients. A few nights were lighter fare, where I would add a sandwich or salad (whichever I could create from what’s in my fridge), but no one really tired of the meals, since each one had such a unique flavor – even though we had three meals from one chicken.

The Ingredients:
Chicken
Potatoes
Carrots
Cheese
Garlic

The Staples:
Flour
Sugar
Milk
Butter
Salt & Pepper

The Menu:

Roasted chicken, potatoes and carrots – We love this meal, not only because it makes for a great “Sunday dinner” with little effort, but I can create 3-4 meals from the cooked chicken.

Chicken Soup – This can be as simple as chicken pieces & broth with salt, pepper and carrots to a more involved soup with noodles & additional seasonings.

Baked Chicken– This goes great with Cheese Potatoes or Twice Baked potatoes and Steamed Carrots. Plus, you can build on the basic recipe, depending on what’s in your pantry. Add onions & mushrooms, season with your favorite spices, marinades or your favorite toppings (Dear bacon, I love you!).

Cheddar-Garlic Chicken and Baked Potatoes – I eliminated the crust on this one, in favor of a simple flour coating, and tossed in some carrots. This is partly due to the 5-ingredient challenge and partly due to our gluten-free diet. I find it pretty easy to eliminate ingredients that are unsafe for us and appear to be expendable. Adding carrots made it turn out a bit like a chicken pot pie – super easy and tasty.

Grilled Chicken with Potatoes & Carrots – From a basic salt & pepper drumstick to paprika, marinades or sauce, grilled chicken is inexpensive and incredibly easy. It also goes great with mashed potatoes & gravy.

Potato Soup – Homemade chicken stock is a great base for one of my favorite soups. Ordinarily, I would pair it with a grilled sandwich, but it’s hearty enough to qualify as a light dinner.

Garlic Baked Chicken, Sautéed Potatoes, Buttered Carrots – A garlicky baked chicken adds a different flavor, balanced with tamer potatoes and carrots. I think we could actually eat baked chicken all week, and still have plenty of variety to our menu.

What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?


Heather Sokol is the married mother of three beautiful, active – and very hungry – girls. In between bubble baths, carpool and Scout meetings, she shares money saving ideas at Inexpensively.com.

Food, we love you.

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Comments (5)

  1. 17th Feb 2011
    by Shannon Smith Rubdo

    I love this idea! We also make chicken quesadillas and chicken salad w/ leftover chicken. Mmm….

  2. 23rd Feb 2011
    by Lil'Sis

    A lot of people say that rattlesnake tastes like chicken. Can you believe that?!!! Would you eat a snake?! Even if it tasted like delicious bbq chicken? Come on now!

  3. 2nd Mar 2011
    by Lil'Sis

    Hi Mariana – thanks for your response! Yes, there is truly no accounting for taste, but as Samuel L. Jackson’s character says in Pulp Fiction: “Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy…”(you know the rest). Snakes, sewer rats… Come on now! That being said, I’m curious to know what other things people won’t eat – no matter how good they taste!

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