Cooking for One – Chicken Dinner

Slow Cooker Chicken Dinner Microwave Vegetables

When you’re cooking for one, a chicken dinner is something you tend not to bother with as it all seems such a faff.  But by combining some regular quick workarounds and food cheats you can serve yourself a great chicken dinner with the minimum of effort.  Yes, you’ll have some leftovers, which is the bane of the cooking for one’s life, but sometimes it’s just worth the effort.

This plate of chicken dinner was made using a slow cooker, a microwave and a toaster oven.  It has: chicken, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, cabbage, swede, carrot, peas and Bisto gravy!

You might find yourself browsing the Roast Chicken Dinner for One packs in the supermarket, then thinking “it’s so expensive for what you get – and not very big at all!”, so you’ll admit you’d LIKE a chicken dinner, but you want value for money and a bigger plate of food!

Using a slow cooker to cook a whole chicken is possible, just plonk it into the slow cooker and off you go – but, for one person that’s often way too much chicken leftovers to even think about!  What does work though is a chicken breast joint, you can buy these in small packs, of about 560 grams, at all the major supermarkets and discount shops.  Lidl and Aldi both sell a 560 gram chicken breast joint for £2.50. I find these work because, once cooked, there are about three portions, which can easily be used up as cold chicken in the week, even if that’s just reaching into the fridge to grab a bit to nibble!  Or in sandwiches for work.

I will use a chicken dinner to try to eat more vegetables too as, mentally, I find it easier to cook 3-4 vegetables if it’s a Sunday dinner, than with other meals where it seems like food overload.

This week’s Sunday dinner was made by the following methods.

Chicken Dinner:

  • The chicken was cooked in the slow cooker for 4 hours.  I  put it on to cook when I’d got back from my early morning trip out to the local car boot sale.
  • I made a Yorkshire pudding, which I prepared just after I’d put the chicken into the slow cooker, then popped the mix into the fridge to rest until I was ready to cook it.  Unfortunately, I don’t currently possess “the right sized dish” for Yorkshire puddings, so I improvised and used one of my Falcon Pie Tins, then had to squash the Yorkshire pudding onto the plate as it was a bit big.  This I cooked in my toaster oven, taking 15-20 minutes.
  • The vegetables were sweetheart cabbage, swede, carrots and peas, all cooked in the microwave steamer at the same time.
  • Stuffing in a mug – my usual way of making stuffing most of the time – I toyed with the idea of baking it to give a nice crispy top, there was room for this in the toaster oven alongside the Yorkshire pudding, but I decided not to do that this week.
  • There are no potatoes this week – I simply felt I already had enough food on the plate, so didn’t need any potatoes.
  • The gravy was instant gravy, made from Bisto Chicken Gravy granules (2 teaspoons) and boiling water from the kettle.

Cooking Times for This Chicken Dinner:

  • 10.30 put the slow cooker on with the chicken sitting on 2-3 carrots.
  • 10.35 mix up the Yorkshire batter mix (egg, flour, milk) and pop that into the fridge
  • 10.40 cut ¼ piece from the swede, grab one carrot, cut the sweetheart cabbage in half and remove the outer leaf and put those into the microwave steamer.  Get some peas from the freezer and put these in a small pot in boiling water to defrost them.
  • 10.45 put two teaspoons of Bisto gravy granules in a small ramekin to make the gravy and pour out instant stuffing mix into a mug, adding a knob of butter and boiling water to make up the stuffing mix, then leave it to soak in.DO NOTHING: Sit back and do nothing for 1½ hours.
  • 12.00 turn down the slow cooker to LOW.DO NOTHING: Now sit back and do absolutely nothing for 2-2½ hours!
  • 2.00/2.30 turn off the slow cooker, leaving the lid on, so the chicken can continue cooking and rest while you cook the rest of your meal.
  • Turn on the toaster oven/mini oven and put oil into the dish for the Yorkshire pudding.  Put this into the toaster oven with the top and bottom elements on, at about 200°C, to get it hot quickly.  Be generous with the oil, you don’t want a light coating else the Yorkshire might stick.
  • Remove the Yorkshire batter mix from the fridge, add a tiny splash of cold water (1 tablespoon) and give it another good beating (I use a fork).
  • Boil the kettle and add water to the microwave steamer.
  • Pour the Yorkshire batter into the dish – I mix up the batter in a jug, so I don’t have to remove the dish from the oven, I just pour it in using the jug spout.  Cook the Yorkshire pudding for 15-20 minutes – if you’re cooking this in a toaster oven then make sure the dish is in the middle of the oven if you’ve got the top element on, else one side will rise/burn while the other’s taking its time a bit!  Keep an eye on it and if it’s rising/browning too quickly then knock the temperature back to 180°C.
  • Place the vegetables in the steamer into the microwave oven and microwave on high power for 5 minutes. Check/remove the sweetheart cabbage and microwave the swede/carrot for a further 4 minutes. Drain and add the peas that were defrosting and microwave the swede/carrot/peas for 1 minute.
  • Cut up the chicken, you can cut up the carrots you put at the bottom of the slow cooker and eat those (I do).  Check the stuffing, adding a little more hot water to loosen it, then microwave it for 1 minute on high power.
  • Add everything to the plate.
  • Boil the kettle and add boiling water to the gravy granules to make your gravy – and pour it over.

Done!  Now eat it.

Total Cost £1-£1.50:

What is on the plate will have cost £1-£1.50, depending on how much you eat.  The chicken cost £2.50, swede 49p, bag of carrots 29p/500g, small box own brand of stuffing 15p, 1Kg bag of frozen peas £1, cabbage (I forget!), but you’re not using the whole of any of these.  The chicken can make 3-4 portions so 62-83p, I’ve used 1/4 of the swede but only put 2/3rds of that on the plate; I used just under half a bag of carrots (some in the slow cooker, one in the steamer) and half a box of stuffing.  The bag of peas is enough for 20 meals…. so it’s hard to tell.

Buying everything the first time is an outlay, but a lot of this food would last the entire week.