Paprika infuses the creamy sauce with earthy flavor and a lovely red hue in this comforting, budget-friendly chicken dish.
I’m very familiar with budget-friendly meals. The year after I graduated from college and was living on my own for the first time, I learned how to make fried rice and ended up cooking it almost every night. It was fast, easy, and most importantly- cheap! Then, after I finished culinary school, I ended up doing recipe development for Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. I created and tested a lot of recipes for their $10 Dinners section. Here’s one of my recipes:
The goal was to create budget-friendly meals that could feed a family of four for $10 or less. It was like solving a puzzle! I used to sit there with a notebook and calculator and figure out the cost of each ingredient (we only counted the amount of the ingredient used; for example 1 tablespoon of olive oil rather than the cost of an entire bottle). I would mix and match ingredients until I eventually came up with the perfect combination!
So when I found out that this month’s Recipe Redux theme was Budget-Friendly Eats, I got really excited to take a trip down memory lane! The challenge? To create a healthy entrée recipe for less than $3 per serving. So I dusted off the old calculator (which is now an iPhone, of course) and got to work!The @foodiephysician's Chicken w/ Creamy Paprika Sauce is a hearty & delicious budget-friendly dish! #therecipereduxClick To Tweet
There were certain items that I used to turn to often as budget meal staples- dried pasta, beans, lentils, rice, fresh or frozen vegetables, eggs, canned tomatoes, spices, and herbs. For anyone watching their budget, these are great items to keep stocked in your kitchen. I used smaller amounts of meat to fit in with the tight budget, focusing on filling the plate up with less costly vegetables and whole grains. Turns out that it’s also a very healthy way to eat!
My Chicken with Creamy Paprika Sauce is a stick-to-your-ribs comfort food that’s packed with flavor and won’t be hard on your wallet. This easy chicken and mushroom stew has Hungarian origins. Sweet paprika infuses the creamy sauce with earthy flavor and gives it a lovely red hue. The dish has simple ingredients like chicken, mushrooms, egg noodles, tomato paste and paprika, many of which you may already have in your pantry. It’s classically served over egg noodles but you can serve it with any type of pasta or even rice.
Here are some of the budget-friendly tips that I used when creating this recipe:
- I used chicken from a family pack. I look for sales at the supermarket and buy family sized portions for items I’ll use a lot. When chicken breasts go on sale, I buy family packs and then I split them up into individual portions, label them and freeze them for later. I also avoid cuts like “thin cut” chicken breasts because they’re more expensive. Slice them yourself.
- I used lots of mushrooms. Vegetables are relatively inexpensive. I buy fresh vegetables when they’re in season (and therefore cheaper) and frozen vegetables at other times of the year. I avoid veggies that are already prepped like presliced mushrooms and chopped onions because they cost more. If you’re pressed for time, these items can be very valuable but if you’re on a budget, do your own prep work.
- I bought tomato paste in a can instead of a tube. The tube is convenient because you can use as much as you like and then close it and store it in the fridge, but the can is a lot cheaper. I use what I need and then freeze the rest of the tomato paste in tablespoon-sized portions.
- I bought a bunch of fresh parsley and then planned the rest of my week’s meals around it. Fresh parsley is pretty inexpensive already but since I was buying a whole bunch of it for this recipe, I incorporated the rest of it into my dishes for the rest of the week. This practice of menu planning also helps reduce food waste.
So go ahead and dive into a bowl of this hearty chicken dish. It’s my kind of cold weather comfort food. Your family (and your wallet) will thank you!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon flour (I used white whole wheat)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- ¼ cup sherry or white wine (optional)
- ¼ cup reduced fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 8 ounces enriched egg noodles, cooked and drained
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Heat 1 ½ tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Season the chicken pieces with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and sprinkle them with flour. Toss to coat all of the pieces. Add the chicken to the pan in a single layer and cook without moving until golden, 3-4 minutes. Flip the pieces over and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side (the chicken will finish cooking later in the sauce). Remove chicken from the pan.
- Whisk the tomato paste and chicken stock together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon oil in the pan and add the onion. Cook 2-3 minutes until it starts to soften and then add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the paprika and stir to combine well. Turn the heat up to high and add the sherry or wine (if using). Cook until reduced. Pour in the tomato paste and chicken stock mixture and season the sauce with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Simmer a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken and the chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat off and stir in the sour cream or yogurt.
- Serve the chicken over egg noodles. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
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