Four Dinner Slow Cooker Chicken

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.

  1. Two pounds Chicken ($5)
  2. Large container of Salsa ($4)
  3. Taco seasoning (optional) ($1)
  4. Small tortillas ($2)
  5. Large tortillas ($2)
  6. Corn ($1)
  7. Black Beans ($1)
  8. Spinach ($2)
  9. 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!

Best Wines Under $10

img_7327No better way to celebrate Wine Wednesday than with a list of some of the top wines available for under $10.  In full disclosure, I am far from a wine connoisseur.  But over the years, I have tried my fair share of budgeted wine.  There are certain ones that I kept coming back to and others that I choose to avoid.  Here is a list of my top ten picks.  I should note, that Malbec is my favorite wine and I generally prefer red wines.  So there is definitely some bias in my picks.  However, I tried my best to diversify this list so that there is something for every taste.  I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

LaFinca

10) La Finca Malbec ($4.99) – I first discovery La Finca Malbec right after college in my early twenties.  It is basically a twist on Trader Joe’s popular Two Buck Chucks.  For an extra $1.50, you get a wine that is much more unique.  Also, the classy label seemed more appropriate for events with friends or family.   Over time I have strayed away from this wine for some of the options below, but it was my favorite for years and deserved a spot on the list.  It is also one of the only options that I included below $5.00.

Rose

9) The Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016 ($9.49)- This $9.49 option from Aldi is a newer addition to the list.  However, after recently learning that this wine won the top spot at the International Wine Challenge’s Great Value Awards, I had to give it a try.   I had my first glass during The Bachelorette finale on Monday, and I can definitely say that this pick is a winner.  Great addition to any summer event, particularly since you can say that you brought an international award winning wine to share. 

proesecco

8) Cupcake Prosecco ($9.99)- I had to get some sort of bubbly on this list, but honestly it is hard to find a good budget option.  Also, this one barely made the list because it is right at the top of that $10 cap.  At some locations, it is priced over that amount.  However, it can be found for under $10.  This is one of my favorite options for a girls night or for a special celebration, when you need some bubbles.

trapiche

7) Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec ($8.99)- I told you that I am partial to Malbecs.  This option is a great go to wine.  All of the Trapiche wines are delicious.  Actually, this wine made the list because the Trapiche Broquel is my absolute favorite wine, but I hate spending over $10 for a bottle of wine when there are so many other great budgeted options.  The Broquel is reserved for special occasions at our house, like when I got my new job.

Dark horse

6) Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon ($8.29)- My first Cabernet Sauvignon to make the list.  In my opinion, Cabs are the best dinner party wines and this one is sure to please.  It is very dark, like the name implies.  The interesting label makes for a great gift and the wine is sure to please guests.  This has been a fail safe over the years if we aren’t sure of our hosts tastes.

crest

5) Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.97)- This wine was first given to us by a family member around the holidays because of the high scores that it had received.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember what the scoring system was from or why it was a “high scoring wine”.  That being said, I do know that this is a great option.  We loved it so much that we made it our Cab option for our wedding.  The price tag doesn’t hurt either.

red blend

4) Apothic Red Blend ($7.97)- We gave this bottle of wine to a family member as part of their wedding gifts a few years back.  They loved it so much, that they ended up testing us a few weeks later while they were at the grocery store wanting to know the name of the wine.  This is definitely a unique option because it is a blend, but I promise it will not disappoint.  The other great thing about this option is that the beautiful label makes for a great budgeted wedding gift.

bogle

3) Bogle Merlot ($7.77)- Now were getting into the REALLY good stuff.  Bogle Merlot is my husband’s favorite.  It was a struggle to put it at number three, but the last two options are just too good.  All of my spouse’s family love this wine.  At our wedding, we had a “Bride’s Pick” and “Groom’s Pick” wine, and this was his choice.  Bogle makes a number of good wines that are all worth a try.

white

2) Lindemans Chardonnay ($4.77)- Another family favorite that we first tried courtesy of my father.  This is one of the only white wine options on this list because this is the only one that you will ever need.  Just kidding…well sort of.  We really don’t venture out much because this is our favorite white wine option.  And with a price tag of $4.77, there is no need to.  Even a 1.5L bottle only costs $6.97.  It is just so good.  I think that the secret is out though.  Every time that we have gone to Total Wine lately, this option has been sold out.  Maybe I shouldn’t be putting this in here.  It is going probably increase demand and drive up costs.  Ignore everything that I just said, it isn’t that good.

alamos

1) Alamos Malbec ($7.97)- I mean, you had to know that a Malbec would top the list.  Actually, I am enjoying a glass as I type this post.  The Alamos has been my favorite budgeted option for a few years now.  Over the years, I have shared it with family and friends.  I am pretty sure that it is my father-in-law’s favorite now.  We actually recently had a house warming and three different family members showed up with a bottle of the Alamos.   Needless to say, this was the “Bride’s Pick” at our wedding and it was the first wine to run out.  Definitely worth a try!

I would love to hear what you think about these picks!   Leave a comment below with your thoughts.