Summer Meal Series #1: Honey Mustard Chicken Strips

This summer, I’m going to be posting a series of fifteen low-cost, tasty, and easy-to-prepare meals that are literally straight from my own kitchen.

I have a four year old and a two year old at home. That means, at meal times, it’s often much easier to eat finger foods than foods covered in sauce because, inevitably, the sauce gets spilled all over the place.

Thus, we’re often seeking recipes for meals that can easily be eaten by hand, are still reasonably healthy, and have a low cost. One popular one at our house is homemade chicken strips, which turn out to be quite inexpensive and very easy to prepare. The variation I’m going to show you today is honey mustard strips, but you can make infinite variations on this recipe by just changing up the spices as you see fit.

Here are the ingredients we started with:

Ingredients

From left to right, you’ll see vinegar, skim milk, black pepper, spicy brown mustard, chicken breasts, honey, and pretzels. This is all you need to make some very good chicken strips.

Here’s a more specific ingredient list…

2 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, divided (1/2 and 2)
1/2 cup skim milk
1 lb. medium boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
Black pepper to taste
1 cup crushed pretzels

… and a cost breakdown:

2.5 tablespoons of vinegar costs $0.20
1/2 cup skim milk costs $0.08
1 lb. chicken breasts costs $2.49
2 tablespoons mustard costs $0.05
1 tablespoon honey costs $0.05
Black pepper to taste costs $0.01
1 cup crushed pretzels costs $0.91
Total cost: $3.79

Each batch produces 10-12 strips or 20-24 half-strips, depending on how you slice them, so the cost per strip is about a quarter. In other words, the cost of one of these delicious and healthier homemade half-strips is actually less than a Chicken McNugget ($3.29 for 10 pieces, or thirty three cents a pop), and a full strip ($0.50 or so) is way less than the comparable McDonald’s Chicken Select Strips (3 for $3.99, or $1.33 a pop).

So, what do you do? First, put half a tablespoon of vinegar into a 1/2 cup measuring cup, then fill it with skim milk. Stir it and allow it to sit for ten to fifteen minutes. This creates what one might call a healthier substitute for buttermilk – it gets a little thicker and stickier, too.

While this is sitting, slice up the chicken breasts into strips or pieces, however you like. We tend to cut ours pretty small, as you can see below:

Short chicken strips

(We’re making a double batch so we have plenty for freezing and leftovers, but you can clearly see that I basically just cut long strips, then divided them in half. This would get us about 20-24 pieces per pound of breast, or 40-48 over two pounds (what you see above).

Once that’s done, you need to start crushing the pretzels into oblivion. I used the “baggie” method, depicted below:

About to crush pretzels

I just put a bunch in a baggie, get out a rolling pin or a hammer, and smash smash smash! The baggie keeps crumbs from flying everywhere. Just keep doing it until you have a cup of crumbs.

Another method would be to put them in a blender and puree the pretzels. I don’t like doing this because I usually wind up with pretzel dust in the air, causing me to sneeze. The baggie method generates a little dust, but not nearly as much.

Here’s the consistency of the pretzels when I’m finished:

Crushed pretzels

You can crush them finer (it’ll make more of a breading) or less fine (it’ll make more of a crunchy surface), whichever you prefer. We do a mix, which makes a breading with some crunchy pretzel pieces hanging on.

Once you have those pretzels crushed, sit that bowl aside. Mix the remaining two tablespoons of vinegar, the mustard, and the honey together in another bowl and add any amount of black pepper you’d like. Stir it thoroughly.

My mix looks something like this:

Mixing the dip

Naturally, you can alter this mix however you’d like. Substitute the honey and mustard for ranch dressing if you’d like. Use barbecue sauce instead. Blue cheese dressing. Whatever flavor floats your boat.

Once you have this mixed together, mix in the vinegar-milk mix you made at the start. You’ll end up lightening the color of your mix.

In a larger bowl, put the chicken strips and pour the mix you’ve made on top of it. Toss the strips through the liquid to make sure that the strips are all well coated. Here’s how mine looked:

Soaking in the honey mustard milk

Once that’s ready, let the strips soak for twenty minutes. Go do something else. Finish crushing your pretzels. Make lemonade. Play catch with your kids.

After that period is up, preheat your oven to 400 F (about 200 C). Get out a cookie sheet, put some non-stick coating on the sheet (this is optional – I’ve done just fine not using it, but strips might stick if they’re not well-breaded) then one strip at a time, take the strips out of the liquid stuff and toss the sticky, wet strips around in the pretzel crumbs. The pretzel crumbs will stick quite well to the wet strips. When they’re coated, lay them on the sheet and repeat until you’ve coated ‘em all.

Toss the strips in the oven for about ten minutes. Here’s what mine looked like just after going in the oven:

Honey mustard strips in the oven

After that ten minutes, pull out the strips and flip them over. It’s easy to do with a spatula. The reason for doing this is that if you do not, they can be a touch soggy on the bottom, so you can get away with not flipping them and they’re still just fine.

Put the strips back in for another ten to twelve minutes and then serve them. Yum.

Here’s what my dinner plate looked like:

Complete meal

(You can see the corner of my son’s Spider-Man plate in the upper left of that picture.)

They were quite tasty and a real hit – all four of us enjoyed the strips.

Along with the strips, we had leftovers – some leftover pea salad (mostly peas, but with some diced celery, cubed cheddar cheese, and sour cream) and leftover cantaloupe from a Memorial Day weekend barbecue that we hosted.

The nice thing about strips like this is that almost anything you have on hand works as a side dish for them. Virtually any vegetable and fruit works alongside the strips. This makes the meal less expensive because you can use leftovers (as we did) or whatever fruits and vegetables are on sale at your local grocery store.

Next time, we’ll look at the grill – and the frugal beauty of grilled vegetables.

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  1. Cheryl says:

    Most of the state extension services have excellent meal planning information with recipes. I like the North Dakota one which includes recipes, shopping lists and meal planning tips for 4 weeks. Also “Eating Well Made Easy” by the Utah Extension service.

  2. Anne says:

    Bless you, Trent! This sounds good, and I am really looking forward to the rest of the series! Our very active little boy just turned one, and has become a very picky eater over the last few weeks (peaches and yogurt have been the only consistently acceptable foods for a couple of weeks…other foods are whim-dependent). Meanwhile, I have been trying to generate a list of quick, tasty, and healthy meals so that I can minimize time spent in the kitchen and spend more time with him.

  3. Marci says:

    Long time reader, first time poster, here. I liked this article so much that I couldn’t let it go by without telling you that I LOVE the inclusion of frugal and healthy recipes! Good job, kudos, general commenter love from my quarter at least – and I can’t wait for the rest of the series! :)

  4. Jaden B says:

    I second what Marci said… Love this recipe, I can’t wait to try a healthier version of my normal chicken strips! And I’m SO looking forward to the rest of the series. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beth says:

    This looks yummy! But I think your numbers are off… Even if I could find chicken breasts for as little as $2.49/Ib, I think you’ve got a couple of pounds pictured there (unless they’re very small?)

  6. Beth says:

    Nope.. It’s my numbers that are off. Nevermind! I think the only way I could find chicken that cheap though is to buy bone in, skin on and do the work myself :)

  7. Nick says:

    What’s SUMMER about this meal? I’d like to see some fresh veggies. Maybe some in-season produce…

    I like that these are baked instead of fried, but other than that it’s not really a healthy meal…

    Frugal on the wallet isn’t always worth the other costs.

    The grilled veggies sound promising though!

  8. Johanna says:

    Just wondering: You’ve said in the past that you’re willing to pay more for meat and other animal products produced with a higher standard of animal welfare and environmental responsibility (although you’ve sometimes seemed confused as to what that meant: “cage-free” and “hormone-free” don’t mean anything when applied to chicken meat, since chickens raised for their meat aren’t given hormones or kept in cages normally) – does $2.49/pound reflect that premium, or is that the regular price for chicken in your area?

    Bring on the vegetable recipes. :)

  9. Nick says:

    Also… cheap meat is cheap for a reason. I would encourage everyone to research how it’s possible to produce meat that cheaply.

    When meat is being produced cheaply, there are hidden costs to the environment, animal well-being, and most importantly your family’s health that aren’t shown on the price tag.

    Sorry. End rant.

  10. James M. says:

    @ Nick — What’s unhealthy about it? Lightly crusted baked chicken breast is pretty durn healthy. Pair it with a quinola pilaf or a salad and it’s a cheap, healthy meal. Especially when compared to what it would probably replace, like fried chicken.

  11. James M. says:

    Boneless, skinless chicken breast is more like $5/lb where I live, but I suppose this recipe could be applied to pork chops, which can be found for around $3/lb without much trouble.

  12. Regarding meat (and organic, for that matter): I’d like to see your review of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

  13. Tyler Chesley says:

    In line with Nick’s comments I will just point out that vegetarian options are often much cheaper than meat. A pound of dried organic lentils costs $2.79. You can get 6 cups cooked lentils from that. A serving of lentils is 1/2 cup which works out to 23 cents a serving. Combine that with some brown long grain rice and you have a very healthy meal for very cheap.

  14. Adam says:

    I wish I could get chicken breast for $2.49 a pound. Must be nice! :) The chicken strips are pretty healthy. Just need lots of veggies on the side…spinach salad or some brocolli! Great post Trent.

  15. Kelly Perry says:

    glad to see a new recipe series!!

  16. Eric says:

    Great recipe and thanks for these kinds of posts.

  17. Johanna says:

    Another thing: The picture shows a carton of organic milk, but 8 cents for 1/2 cup works out to about $2.50/gallon. Is that really what you pay for organic milk?

    @steven hundredgoals: Or “Food Matters” by Mark Bittman.

  18. Karen M. says:

    $2.49 for boneless, skinless breasts? I couldn’t even get that at the Commissary.

    My idea of a summer meal is one that doesn’t involve a 400 degree oven! :) Last summer I didn’t turn the oven on at all in July and August. Lots of fresh veggies, bean and rice salads, cold soups (gazpacho, in particular), and on the weekends grilled pizza.

  19. becky says:

    Another great coating instead of pretzels (and way less salt) would be to use panko. It can give a nice, crisp coating & I think that would be even tastier than pretzels.

    And if you have a cookie cooling rack or something else to place in your baking sheet, you can put the chicken on top of that. Way less likely to stick AND not so soggy on the bottom.

  20. Cheryl says:

    Coating instead of pretzels: I save bread crumbs from cutting homemade bread, broken cracker bits, non-sweetened cereal “powder”(from the bottom of the bag) in a bag in the freezer. When I need something for breading, I throw it in the food processor and process away until it is finely ground. Extra goes back in the freezer for next time.

  21. Aryn says:

    Actually, 2.49/lb is what I pay when I buy frozen breasts in a big bag from Trader Joe’s.

    Trent – have you tried these with oatmeal rather than pretzels. Yum!

  22. This is definitely a delicious meal, yummy

  23. Derek says:

    This is a series I’ll be paying attention to. I’ve made chicken strips similar to this, though I wouldn’t use that recipe again. Might try this one but am more looking forward to your grilled veggie ideas as that’s something I’ve been thinking about making a staple in our summer meals.

  24. Ana says:

    Wow Trent, you have to have the most tight assed, nagging, contrary commenters of ANY PF site I have ever been on. KD doesn’t have such annoying ppl commenting, nor Nonjs either, what with bring young and all. Why is this I wonder? Is it because you are a happy family man?

  25. Ana says:

    Meant to write JD and Ninja! Freaking itouch!

  26. fish says:

    Message to Mr Hamm (not for publication):

    There are already shitloads of internet stuff on cookery – far too much, probably. If you write columns like this, you will dilute the uniqueness of your site and you will tarnish your brand.

    If you really think it is sensible to pen columns like this, it’s best to do so on a new site, which can be cross-promoted from this one.

  27. TLS says:

    Yum!

  28. Kate says:

    Dude! It looks really good, and I’d love to try them. But where I come from chicken breast is about $8 a pound and pretzels are a specialty item. Would it work as well with breadcrumbs?

  29. KC says:

    I like your glass, but what is that clear, thin liquid in it? It should be dark…with a nice head :)

  30. CMWP says:

    De-lurking to agree with Ana.

    Also, this looks like it would be much better than the pre-made, frozen chicken strips from the store. I need to give this recipe a try…with two sons, and a husband who craves convenience food like this on a regular basis, this will come in handy.

    As a former inhabitant of the midwest, I had to cheer when I saw the pea and cheese salad in the picture. My family always made it with Miracle Whip, though!

  31. katy says:

    Yum. Stating the obvious, but you can use pretty much anything crunchy in place of the pretzels. I use crushed rice or corn cereal plus a bit of salt and whatever other spices I feel like throwing in. Also, you can make chicken nuggets in a crockpot: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/09/crockpot-chicken-nuggets-recipe.html Hers aren’t as pretty as yours but its an option if you don’t want to heat up the house.

  32. Michele says:

    Great post Trent!
    You can make this sorta vegetarian by using zucchini instead of chicken.
    I also save bread ends and such and run them through the food processor once a month to make free breadcrumbs and keep them in the freezer.

  33. Jackie says:

    Johanna, chickens absolutely are kept in cages and given hormones! Not to mention all kinds of antibiotics and other things that make me terribly terribly sad!

  34. Jackie says:

    Oh. I like Steven’s idea. I’d really like to hear Trent’s comments on an Omnivore’s Dilemma. It was a really meaningful and life-changing book for me.

  35. Ellen says:

    @Jackie, having done poultry research at a major university, I can assure you that meat and egg chickens are not given hormones. That is illegal in the US. Meat chickens are not kept in cages, they are kept in large barns (albeit overcrowded barns, certainly). Laying hens are kept in cages, but they actually prefer being in cages to running free while they are laying. “Cage free” hens must be given enclosed spaces, or they will not lay.
    Chickens are given antibiotics, although there is little risk of any residue in your meat unless you eat chicken livers (even then there is not much risk). Bacterial resistance is a much bigger risk associated with feeding antibiotics to livestock.

  36. teresa says:

    yum…I also make these. I flat freeze them on a cookie sheet after breading and then vacuum pack them for later. I lightly spray the cookie sheet and the strips with vegetable oil before baking. I think they get crispier that way.
    This is such a versatile idea:
    try adding 1/4 cup of hot sauce to the milk and some chili pepper to the coating(I don’t have kids so they can be spicy).
    I also do Italian style ones.
    So much healthier than any pre-made ones.

  37. Ellen says:

    By the way, could you make these with whole wheat flour or whole-wheat bread crumbs? I have recently started a low-glycemic diet, and I am still figuring things out.

  38. Ashley says:

    I’m with Karen (#12)…we don’t use the oven from May through October. Just too hot.

    Although not as healthy as your recipe, we do enjoy fried chicken fingers a couple of times a month, especially in the summer. The Fry Daddy doesn’t heat up the whole house. We use flour, an egg & milk wash, and Panko crumbs, fry the chicken tenders in Canola oil, and serve with wilted collard greens and local corn on the cob. We strain the used oil through cheese-cloth and refrigerate for future use…we can often get 4-5 uses from the same batch of oil.

    I, too, look forward to more content on this topic…thanks!

  39. Walden Pond says:

    I read this blog for the sake of my wallet, but these frugal recipes make my stomach happy, too. Thank you!

  40. JP says:

    I can also find chicken for 2.49/lb… but I live in Nebraska. You guys have to remember that Trent lives in Iowa. The cost of living is extremely cheap out here.

  41. @Ellen “Laying hens are kept in cages, but they actually prefer being in cages to running free while they are laying. “Cage free” hens must be given enclosed spaces, or they will not lay.”

    Well, hens don’t actually want to be in cages. They prefer to hop into a nest box and hop out. If they are outside, they’ll lay in any corner or moderately screened spot. (Even those overbred Leghorns are quite happy laying outside.)

  42. sewingirl says:

    I think $2.49# is a very reasonable price for the chicken. I can get the boneless breast on sale for $1.69# on a regular basis.

  43. michael bash says:

    As I’ve told you before, I’m glad you’re getting into the kitchen, a very comfortable “factory” for me for the last 35 years. A tip to heed is that thighs (chicken or turkey) are the choice for experienced home cooks. This will become clear to you as you move further into this life adventure. Remember cooking is the only art you can eat.

  44. deRuiter says:

    Dear Friends, Shop Rite Grocery stores (major East coast chain) frequently sell packs of boneless chicken breasts for $1.99/pound. As for, “Substitute the honey and mustard for ranch dressing if you’d like. ” is supposed to read, “Substitute ranch dressing for the honey and mustard if you’d like.” I am about to give up on this column. The comments are fun, some of the ideas are nicely put, but the consistently sloppy work, the lack of editing, the disdain for the readers indicated by the lack of professionalism is tiresome. If a person’s dream is to be a professional writer, then the writer ought to write in a professional manner which includes spell check, editing, writing coherent sentences and researching “facts” before spouting opinions as facts (planting maple tree and harvesting gallons of maple syrup from it for breakfast any time soon.) A lot of the negativism in the comments section is due to readers mentioning inaccuracies, lack of editing, refusal to take the time to run spell check, and sloppiness. Trent, you lucked out with a timely hit: talking about personal finance at the time the American economy began to implode, don’t blow it by a lack of professionalism. Most of your readers appear to be very young, perhaps that’s why they don’t notice the mistakes, the American public school system being what it is nowadays. That also exlains why an English major (you were an English major or am I mistaken?) can consistently turn out such flawed work with obvious pride. Earning money from sloppy writing and professional quality writing are not synonymous. Reminds me of the new math where when Johnny says that two and two equals “four”, the teacher responds enthusiastically with comments about his creativity so as not to bruise his tender psyche. Trent, you’ve got talent and you’ve latched onto a salable idea, can we please, please, please have some editing and spell check in future work?

  45. marta says:

    deRuiter, Trent wasn’t an English major; I believe he took degrees in Biology and Computer Sciences.

    This is not to say I disagree with your comment; I’ve complained about the sloppy writing so many times that I am about to give up myself. I really think Trent has it in him to improve his writing, but first he needs to start caring about criticism, and understand that not all criticism is negativity.

    Topic: I’m looking forward to the next recipes. More veggies would be great. I’ll echo other commenters; I really don’t want to turn the oven on in the summer months!

  46. Gretchen says:

    Totally agree with most on the chicken. A truly frugal recipe would include using already crushed pretzels from the bottom of several stored bag.

    It’s also not really summer to heat up the oven.

    My comments on the spell check/proofread have been noted before.

  47. Gretchen says:

    Also again: leftovers are only cheaper if the other option is throwing food out and buying new food.

  48. Kate says:

    I occasionally notice problems with editing and word choice on the Simple Dollar. However, right or wrong, blogs are a very different animal than published books or journal articles (and I am OLDER than the youngsters who are assumed to read this blog and also a public educator). I stand in awe of people who can keep a blog going–the amount of daily writing required is astounding. And putting oneself out there to let people shoot arrows at your ideas takes great courage and a very thick skin. Not all people are born with that kind of skin–they have to grow it on the job. For me, the joy of blogs is the abundance of ideas. On any particular blog, some ideas are worth picking and taking home and some aren’t. Another joy of blogs is the comments and I’ve noticed that many (not all) of the comments about editing definitely fall into the negativity/not constructive category. That kind of writing, to me, also indicates a need for editing. The author wouldn’t be editing for commas or spelling–they would be editing for voice. Or perhaps the voice is true, i.e. the author is feeling particularly bitter or angry or yearning for the good old days.

    I have never thought about using crushed pretzels as a coating for chicken and I am thinking of the partially full bag that I bought for another recipe. It is definitely worth a try.

    Eggs: The only way that you are going to find true “cage-free” eggs is to find someone who raises chickens and is willing to give/sell you eggs. “Cage free” on a carton in the grocery store is misleading.

  49. kk says:

    Yea the frugal meal series is back! There are a few of your suggestions from last year that have become well loved recipes around our house. The kiddos love the Peanut Potato Curry from your last year’s series. The chicken strips look promising, I’ll have to try them out seeing as they are “kid approved”. Thanks for sharing.

  50. Inquisitive Raven says:

    @Gretchen

    The big advantage of leftovers is saving time, not money. If you work outside the home, brown bagging leftovers can be a money saver because it means you’re not spending money on the company cafeteria or fast food.

    Also, in the summer, the right leftovers can save you heating up the oven.

  51. DeeBee says:

    Thanks for these recipes! I will definitely bookmark them for the future. Another great source for some free healthy recipes is http://www.hungry-girl.com . She does many baked recipes using crushed Fiber One cereal crumbs for extra fiber.

    DeeBee

  52. Katie says:

    Ellen, that’s not true. I actually own chickens, and they are NOT happy being in cages 24/7 (which we sometimes need to do if one is sick or being pecked by the others). Yes, they want privacy when it’s time to lay, but a nesting box with high sides accomplishes that. Most will roam during the day and then usually go in sometime in the evening to lay. Battery hens are horribly mistreated, their feet have often grown into the wires of their cages and their lives are miserable. It’s absurd to say they’d prefer that over sunshine and grass.

    If people want reasonably priced organic, free range chicken, raise your own. It takes less space than you’d think and it’s very rewarding.

  53. michael bash says:

    Bravo to Marta #34 on writing, something many bloggers need to work on. Peter in Toronto, for example, refuses any criticism; seems to think simple proofreading is a waste of his time. It isn’t. Marta, keep trying.

  54. Courtney says:

    What about including the cost of the ziplock bag? :-) Because any time I crush up something in a ziplock bag, the bag is pretty much unusable after that.

  55. DiscoApu says:

    Cut the honey in 1/2 and use a little splenda.

    Instead of crushed pretzels use crushed:
    Kashi Go lean cereal
    Fiber One cereal
    Special K cereal

    Doing this you cut a good amount of calories as well as add fiber.

    I like the vinger/non fat milk as a sub for buttermilk.

  56. J says:

    @ #33 deRuiter I thought two and two did equal “four”, or did I not check my facts?

  57. Courtney says:

    (I’m the other Courtney, not the one who posted #38!) First time in months that I’ve read this blog and I see that nothing has changed – the same crabby commenters are still complaining about every little thing that Trent does. I agree with Ana’s theory (#18). Happy family men seem to bring out the worst in some people.

  58. Robert says:

    Frankly, I am less concerned about the occasional grammar or spelling mistake than interesting and useful content. Did Trent make a mistake phrasing things the way he did in that sentence? Yes. But pretty much all of us were quickly able to figure out what he meant and move on.

    By the time his book is published, he will undoubtedly have plenty of editorial assistance to make sure that a product people are paying for (the book) has most or all of these mistakes corrected, as the buyers would rightfully expect. But for essentially free content, such as this blog, I am certainly willing to give a lot more leeway.

    As for this recipe, I plan to try it out today, maybe make a few modifications (zuchini for my vegetarian wife, BBQ sauce for my chicken, etc.) It’s a great article for giving us some ideas.

  59. littlepitcher says:

    @Brown Shirt Grammarians–We’re here for the content. I suspect that you are the same people, some in drag, some not, who make women’s work such a hellpit with your insistence upon Nazi-perfect hair and dress, so you all can weasel out on challenges to the quality and content of your own work.
    @Vegans–Not everyone is vegan, and not everyone should be, especially people with borderline pernicious anemia. Animals and people are treated badly in commerce–examples abound. I suspect that none of you are boycotting local groceries which pay women minimum, keep them on part-time wages to prevent qualification for benefits, offer no employee discounts, and only promote men.
    @Trent–Save-A-Lot has chicken breasts .99/lb this week. Frugal woman appreciates the good work.

  60. Johanna says:

    @littlepitcher: Who in this thread has said that everyone should be vegan? I don’t see where you’re seeing that. All I see are some people pointing out the importance of being aware of the hidden costs of *cheap* meat.

    If I were to stoop to the same level of non sequitur that you have, I’d say that I suspect you’re the type of person who would feed antifreeze to your neighbor’s dog.

  61. Mary says:

    Trent, this looks good, thanks for sharing.

  62. MelodyO says:

    Yes! All of you who are sick and tired of Trent making mistakes that are ruining your fragile constitution – go! That is an excellent idea. Go haunt someone else’s blog and leave him (and us) to it. Maybe go cry over at 1000 Awesome Things, or perhaps Dinosaur Comics. He doesn’t even draw the pictures, for Pete’s sake. Somebody needs to tell him daily how disappointing and unprofessional that is!

    PS Great recipe, Trent. I’m always on the lookout for a yummy coating recipe, and I’ve never tried pretzels before. :0D

  63. Carey says:

    My my, the comments do get weird here, don’t they? :)

    Anyway, just a question Trent: in the ingredients list you say you’re using 2.5 teaspoons of vinegar, and then in the price breakdown it’s 2.5 tablespoons. It’s probably fine either way, but then again using 200% too much might severely curdle 1/2 cup of milk, when you’re only looking for a thickening. Which is the correct measure?

  64. Tall Bill says:

    Thanks for being youself Trent!

    It’s your style and subject manner that draws 99% of us to you. Looking forward to ideas in keeping the family fed and happy in a “green way” with our garden.

    You ARE making a difference in this crazy time and place in our history. Hang on folks!!!

    Stay real buddy…

  65. graytham says:

    #46 MelodyO said:

    “Yes! All of you who are sick and tired of Trent making mistakes that are ruining your fragile constitution – go! That is an excellent idea. Go haunt someone else’s blog and leave him (and us) to it.”

    I’ll drink to that! Seriously- get a life, people. Most of us read this blog for the informative, entertaining posts, not to nitpick over every uncrossed “t” and undotted “i”. Sheesh!

    And your recipe looks delicious to this enthusiastic consumer of animal flesh. :-) I never thought of using pretzel crumbs for coating, I’ll have to try that.

  66. Kandace@pantrydiva says:

    One more grammar comment: you can let something sit for ten minutes, but you “set” somthing aside, not sit.

  67. Claudia says:

    I’m a bit of a grammar freak, too, but just a bit. It drives me nuts when someone says “I seen him yesterday” or “Me and Bill went to the store.” But, I don’t correct people! That’s just rude. Yes, Trent makes his living writing, but since he’s still making a living, I guess most people are not too concerned. After all, last time I checked, we all get to read his thoughts for FREE! We are all free to read them or not read them. If they offend you so much, perhaps your psyche would be better off not reading TSD.
    Also, to everyone who thinks chickens who run free are so much better to eat. Obviously, you have never raised chickens. If they are contained in an area, they eat what you feed them. Those “free range” chickens that are allowed to run all over the place, you don’t want to know what they eat or where they get it from on a farm. Eating undigested seeds out of cow pies, yum! I put free range in quotation marks, because that rarely means truly free, they are usually still contained.

  68. Elisabeth says:

    Sounds like a great recipe, Trent, thanks for sharing! I’m looking forward to more of this series.

  69. New Reader says:

    With the volume of quality content this guy cranks out, I’m stunned he’s not making MORE grammatical errors. I’d rather all this great stuff to read and the occasional small error than one grammatically-perfect post every few days. Thanks for this blog, Trent — I discovered one of your articles via Twitter and subscribed immediately.

  70. David says:

    #33 “Trent, you’ve got talent and you’ve latched onto a salable idea, can we please, please, please have some editing and spell check in future work?”

    My suspicion is that in a world containing the Shop Rite [sic] Grocery Store, such efforts are in the long run likely to prove nugatory.

    Still, should I ever need to make a lot of money very quickly, I shall find a neighborhood inhabited by de Ruiter and his kith, and I shall open the Shop Correctly Grocery Store. It ought to make a fortune.

  71. Shannon says:

    Hi, Trent, I used your recipe today and dinner was a great hit. My husband and young adult daughter both loved the chicken strips. (They dipped them in Tonkatsu sauce.) I also cut up two baked potatoes into strips, coated them with a little spray oil and sprinkled with seasoned salt. I placed them in the oven the same time as the chicken. Meanwhile I sauteed some sliced zucchini with garlic as veggies. It was a very easy and delicious meal. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us. You’re doing a great job on The Simple Dollar and growing as writer, father and husband. Keep up the good work.

  72. kristine says:

    Ana,

    While I am sure your comment was meant to bolster Trent’s self esteem, insulting his readers is probably not in his best interest. And lumping all commenters into one batch is not so nice, either.

    This might have been better handled as a private e-mail. I do not mind the blog criticisms, or even the on-topic bickering, but name calling is real turn-off.

    I think your post inadvertently reflected more poorly on you than those who stayed on-topic.

  73. LMR says:

    For those concerned about cranking up the oven in summer, I can totally relate. My AC runs 24/7 as it is, but I have a tip that has worked great for me: invest in a good quality toaster oven. Don’t get a dinky one; get a good sized one with at least two racks. They cost a bit more, but you might get lucky like I did and get a really good deal. It doesn’t completely replace a regular oven and it takes some practice, but worth it.

  74. Dawn says:

    I think if you put a sheet of parchment paper on the cookie sheet, you wouldn’t need to use the cooking spray, and the chicken pieces wouldn’t stick at all, would be easy to turn over, etc.

    I use parchment for almost all baking, because it makes it very easy to bake cookies (rotating 2 cookie sheets for an entire recipe, for example).

    I suppose that isn’t a particularly frugal tip, but for me, there’s value in the convenience of using the parchment.

  75. Gretchen says:

    The shop correctly grocery store would certainly have “5 items or fewer” lane.

  76. anne says:

    LMR- about the toaster oven idea-

    for a few years we lived in an attic apartment that was very poorly laid out- we had little ones who had to walk right next to the oven in order to go from their room or the bathroom to the living room. i was terrified of them being burned by the oven door being opened at the wrong moment.

    we used the toaster oven for almost all of our meals for three years- you really can do it. i hadn’t even thought of doing it again now that we have a better kitchen i can keep the kids out of, but it really would keep the kitchen from getting so hot in the summer, wouldn’t it?

  77. Yankeegal says:

    Love the idea of using pretzels as a coating! Thanks Trent for the article.

  78. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the recipe and tip for using pretzels to coat the chicken. Never thought of that!

  79. Jenni says:

    My question regards the recipe. It calls for 2 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar; however, in the directions it mentions tablespoons. Which one is correct?
    Thanks! I’m looking forward to trying it.

  80. deRuiter says:

    Yep, the writer is correct! 2+2+ four, BAD EDITING ON MY PART BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL QUOTE WAS “2+2=5″ AND THE TEACHER GOES ON AND ON ABOUT JOHNNIE’S CREATIVITY! Luckily I don’t fancy myself a professional writer, and I am pleased that you caught my error! Will do better in the future, more editing, thank you for your time and trouble in catching this!!!

  81. Ro says:

    This looks like a good recipe. I will be trying it out soon. I’m always looking for fairly-healthy-fairly-frugal recipes and while we haven’t really cared for the cereal coated chicken, the pretzels sound like a good coating.

  82. valleycat1 says:

    I usually use chicken thighs (whole) & cook the same way – just increase the cooking time. I can often get a large pack of thighs for 99 cents/lb.

    Obviously as demonstrated by many other commenters, you can use just about anything crunchy as the coating. We crush Fiber One, Melba Toast, and/or use panko crumbs, although I find panko a little too airy & tasteless. We try not to use anything with added salt & it’s just as tasty that way. I’ve also never used honey or sweetener in this type of thing – just the egg, mustard & spices (either in the liquid or in the coating). I don’t usually soak the meat, but plain buttermilk works well for that if I have some hanging around in the fridge.

  83. Jen says:

    Trent – it seems very strange to me that you justify having a $700/month food budget by talking about spending more for quality, but then many of the meals you write about are full of processed junk, and not very healthy. I see breaded chicken strips, what looks to be a mayo dipping sauce, creamed peas, and a paper thin slice of watery melon. Not exactly healthy, especially when you figure this is in rotation with all the gloppy casseroles in your freezer.

    I think posts like this detract from the quality of your site – the pictures are not compelling and not properly post-processed, and the recipe itself is pedestrian. Sure, you’re excited because it’s a great thing to feed your kids, but it’s not the stuff of great blog posts. I would be way more interested if you had written a post about how you get your young children excited about salads by taking them to the farmer’s market and educating them about local produce (and I don’t even have kids). Posts like that would reinforce how you justify such a large food budget as a writer on frugality. Unlike this post.

  84. Lisa says:

    What makes the vinegar in skim milk a healthier substitute for buttermilk? Would low-fat butter milk be just as healthy?

    Thanks,

    LIsa

  85. Lynn says:

    I use plain yogurt before dredging my chicken strips in leftover crumbs, etc (or even falafel mix)…it is a great way to use up the last of the yogurt…

  86. Katie says:

    The amount of sodium is probably off the chart.

  87. Laura says:

    My daughter liked these! She is an extraordinarily picky eater. (I know, it’s my fault. I’m picky, too.)

    Thanks for the recipe!

  88. erin says:

    Buttermilk is fat free. Vinegar + milk curdles and adds the sourness one would get from buttermilk. This sub is probably more frugal due to the fact that most have milk and vinegar around, therefore not having to purchase another ingredient. I do agree with the processed food comments though. This is junk food, and it would be not only cheaper but far healthier to oven roast some leg quarters (at $0.69 a pound!) with some herbs and skip the pretzels and crap.

  89. bethh says:

    To correct the typo in the recipe: it should be 2 1/2 tablespoons. I took a minute to look up the proportions for curdling milk to figure it out.

    I made the recipe last weekend and it was pretty good. I used thighs as they were cheaper.

  90. Don-nae says:

    This is a great recipe. I’m pretty creative with my meals, but had not thought of using pretzels in lieu of breadcrumbs, etc. It was a nice change and very flavorful. I stuck to the recipe and it tasted great. I think if you changed it to 2 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar as suggest by others that the vinegar would overpower the rest of the flavors and compromise the quality and taste of the dish.

    I had extra chicken that I let rest in the same marinade while the other chicken was cooking. I then grilled that extra portion on the stove top with a little extra virgin olive oil (obviously without the pretzels). Very yummy too. This would be good for a healthy lunch wrap or just to toss in a salad.

    I see a lot of posts about how processed and unhealthy this recipe is, but I fail to see how this is such a junk food, when there is no oil in it, high sugar, high sodium, etc that you find in the actual processed frozen chicken strips you get at the store. There is no added salt other than what is provided by the pretzels. There you could buy the unsalted version to lower the salt content if that was a concern. But again that’s just my opinion.

    I appreciate your site. Thanks!

  91. Jason says:

    I used the 20 minutes to e-mail my mother. I hope that’s okay too.

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