Cooking: Make Chicken Cutlets / How to Stretch Meals for Family

I am often asked how I managed to feed my family with growing boys on a budget of $65 a week. First, let me say that we have increased our budget since then. We are doing significantly better financially and splurge a bit more now but when it was necessary I did utilize several tidbits I’d learned to cut corners and save money.

One way I did that was by making my boneless, skinless chicken breasts go further by cutting them into cutlets. I can usually get them on sale once every six weeks or so and I’ll stock up enough to last me until the next sale. For my family that is about 6-8 packs of 4 chicken breasts. That will give us enough chicken for at least 10 meals.

Chicken cutlets thaw more quickly than whole chicken breasts, are faster to cook, and can lead to a lower caloric intake since one serving (visually) is half of what it would be with a whole breast. I’ve done this with my family for the last three years and even the hungriest of my guys doesn’t eat more than 2 cutlets at a time. Most only eat 1 – 1  1/2. When you serve the meat as a side or accent to the meal and not the main dish it makes a very big difference.

As soon as I get home with the goods I set up my cutting station. I put out my packs of chicken, get some plastic baggies, grab my meat cutting board, and my chef’s knife. Before I touch the meat I open up my plastic baggies and flip the top over so that they stand up. This makes it easier to get the chicken in the bag and ready for freezing. I fill each bag and wash my hands before I seal them shut.

Yes, I’m a germ-a-phobe.

How to Make Chicken Cutlets

Each chicken breast will yield 2-3 cutlets depending on the size.

Slice the chicken breast lengthwise so that each piece is about 1/2 inch thick. If you use the weight of your hand against the top of the cutlet then it will go through smoothly. After you cut midway through you can fan out the cutlet and continue to slice through it. Here is a photo where I show you the progress from using the above steps:

Once you have sliced all the way through you will have 2-3 cutlets.

Continue making cutlets with all of the chicken breasts.

When you are done you will have at least twice as many pieces of chicken than you would have had if you would have left them whole.

Once they are all cut you can put enough servings in each baggy to feed your family. We have a family of 6 with some growing boys so we pack away 8 cutlets per meal. You can also add marinades or seasonings like Taco / Fajita Seasoning prior to freezing them. This adds a whole new layer of flavor.

NOTE: When adding dry mixes I always add a bit of water and olive oil to help coat each piece.

Label and date your baggies and freeze for future meals.

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  1. Amy, I have had good luck making and freezing basil pesto. I freeze in 4 to 8 oz. serving sizes so it is readily used when thawed. Never tried the doing the same with sun- dried tomato variety though.

  2. My boys have never cared for thick pieces of chicken, even if they are perfectly cooked. What made the biggest difference for us is to pound each chicken breast flat with a mallet. Not only does this turn one regular chicken breast into a ginormous piece of chicken, but it evens it out for easier cooking and breaks up the meat to make it easier to chew. Similar to your cutlet cutting method, but I get to beat mine with a mallet! 🙂

  3. GREAT tip!!!!


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