One of the most important parts of sticking to a budget is finding budget friendly week night meals. For us, the challenge has always been finding something both affordable and easy. A lot of nights we don’t get home from work until after seven and we don’t have the energy to cook a full meal. This led to a lot of take-out and midweek meals out at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Recently, we started reincorporating crockpot meals into our weekly meal routine and I am obsessed. Since starting with the crockpot routine one month ago, I can say that we have had NO weekday meals out!
Our favorite recipe, which we have done twice in the last month is crockpot shredded Mexican chicken. It is so EASY! The thing that I love about this dish is that there are so many options that you can make with leftovers. If you are like me, you get bored of eating the same food night after night. This recipe gives you so much freedom as far as leftover meals. So I thought I would share this simple recipe for four nights of crockpot chicken dinners for a family of two! Below are your supplies for all four nights which total approximately $20. For our family of two, this equates to $2.50 per person per meal. The costs may vary at your location. You may also elect to skip certain meals or ingredients.
- Two pounds Chicken ($5)
- Large container of Salsa ($4)
- Taco seasoning (optional) ($1)
- Small tortillas ($2)
- Large tortillas ($2)
- Corn ($1)
- Black Beans ($1)
- Spinach ($2)
- Shredded Mexican Cheese ($2)
Preparing the Chicken
Starting with the basics, how do you prepare the chicken? All you need to do is to get two pounds of fresh chicken. You lay the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot and cover with taco seasoning and salsa. Then cook on low for 7-8 hours. About an hour before the chicken is done cooking, remove the chicken breasts and shred the chicken with a fork. Then return to the crockpot to cook for the final hour. And Viola!
(1) Night One: Tacos
This one is pretty straightforward. We typically start with tacos the first night, because we are exhausted by the end of the day Monday. For chicken tacos, we simply place the shredded chicken on the small tortillas and top with spinach and cheese. Sometimes we will squeeze a lime over the tacos for extra flavor. We sometime add beans on the side, but make sure to save some of the beans for your salad on Wednesday!
(2) Night Two: Chicken Quesadilla
This is definitely our favorite dish of the week, which is why we tend to make it on Tuesday night. Melt butter in the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. Brown one side of a large tortilla, then remove the tortilla. Then add more butter and place a second tortilla in the bottom of the skillet. As soon as you place this tortilla down, cover the whole tortilla with a layer of cheese and a thin layer of chicken. Top with the previously browned tortilla. Use a spatula to flatten the the ingredients together over the skillet. Let it cook for approximately 3-5 minutes and your done! No need to flip since you have already browned the other side.
(3) Night Three: Sante Fe Salad
By this point in the week, we are generally craving a lighter option. Thus, the Sante Fe Salad. For this meal, you start with the spinach. Then top with chicken, corn, beans, and a small amount of the shredded cheese. We generally use a balsamic dressing on top, but any type of vinaigrette would work. You could also use southwest ranch to really heighten the flavors.
(4) Night Four: Chicken Burritos
At this point, you throw whatever you have left from Monday through Wednesday night onto a large tortilla. Then you wrap it all up and enjoy! Sometimes we brown the tortilla filled with the ingredients to make it more cohesive, but it isn’t necessary.
By this point, you have made it through a week of dinners and it is finally Friday! This is definitely one of our go to meal plans that we are going to try to include in the meal plan every few weeks. There are so many other options that you could make that we haven’t included in this list, but these are our favorites. Also, my husband likes large portion of protein, but you could extend the life of the leftovers by using smaller portions in salads. Hope you enjoy these recipes! I would love to hear what you think!