Have you seen the commercial where a fast food chain challenges you to make a fried chicken meal for less than $9.99? It shows a mom with her two kids racing around a grocery store adding up all the ingredients needed to make the meal. In the end, the mom announces they’re going out because it’s cheaper than making the meal herself.
I had my doubts.
And as friends know, I’m always up for a mathematical challenge. So I did my own research to see if I could cook the meal for less than $9.99.
The first thing I did was call our local fast food joint to see exactly what was in the meal. Turns out the meal includes: 7 pieces of fried chicken (specifically 1 breast, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 wings); 1 large (32 oz.) side dish (which was mashed potatoes and gravy in the commercial); and 4 biscuits.
Next, I found my favorite oven fried chicken recipe – so good and so much healthier. Then I went online to find a good biscuit recipe and gravy recipe. I make mashed potatoes a lot so didn’t need a recipe. I put every single ingredient necessary on my grocery list, even if I already had it, and went off to my local grocery store.
I set a few rules for myself. I only went to one store and bought everything there. Normally, I go to two stores as they tend to have different items on sale. I also bought all the ingredients. Normally, I’ll pick things up when they’re on sale. For example, I never buy chicken legs at full price. I always watch when they come on sale and then buy several packages and freeze them. Same goes for pantry staples like whole wheat flour, spices and chicken stock. But for this challenge, I went ahead and (gasp!) paid regular price for these items – all for the sake of this experiment.
Then I came home and started cooking…and calculating.
So, how’d I do? Let’s just say with my meal you can swap those little chicken wings (is there even any meat on there?) for a drumstick and thigh and enjoy a side of green beans to make your plate look prettier (and healthier).
Here’s the breakdown:
Cost to make 7 pieces of my delicious oven fried chicken: $4.57
Cost to make 4 whole grain biscuits made with real butter: $0.58
Cost to make mashed potatoes: $2.16
Cost to make homemade gravy: $0.93
TOTAL COST: $8.24
Adding the steamed green beans and swapping out the wings for the drumstick and thigh brought the total up to $9.86, still under budget.
And this is without shopping sales. I’m confident I could make this meal for at least a dollar less using my regular cost-saving techniques. Beyond cost, my dinner tasted fantastic – just ask my husband – and was A LOT healthier.
So next time you hear someone say it costs more to make a meal at home versus going out, let me know. I’m always up for a tasty challenge.
Recipe for Amazing Oven Fried Chicken
1 cup cornflakes, crushed
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
8 pieces of chicken, skin removed
1/2 cup skim milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
2. Combine and shake all the breading ingredients in a plastic zip bag.
3. Pour milk into small bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in milk. Shake to remove excess milk. Put into bag with breading. Shake until well coated with breading.
4. Place chicken in prepared pan.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes or until the chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Farhenheit.
6. Throw away any left over breading.
Source: The Cook’s Helper, 2nd Edition
Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits
Savory Turkey Gravy
(I made using chicken stock.)