Lemon Pepper Chicken Meal

Once again it’s time to do a recap of last week’s meal. Why do I do these meal recaps? Well, for two reasons: 1) to build a bank of “meal ideas” for people to browse through (deciding what recipes to pair together is one of the hardest parts of meal planning) and 2) to show how my usual method of recipe costing (listing the prices for only the quantity used of each ingredient) compares to the total receipt costs for the items I had to purchase. The receipt version takes into account that sometimes you have to buy a whole package of something when only a portion is used, and the fact that sometimes you don’t have to purchase items at all because they’re already in your pantry. Two methods, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. 

So, let’s take a look at the breakdown for this meal…

Lemon Pepper Chicken Meal - BudgetBytes.com


This meal serves four and includes:

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Orzo: $5.34 recipe / $1.34 serving

Simple Tomato and Cucumber Salad: $3.05 recipe / $0.76 serving

Total Meal Cost: $8.39 total / $2.10 serving

Each serving includes one chicken thigh, about 1.25 cups of orzo, and 1.25 cups of tomato cucumber salad. If you wanted to bulk out the meal a little further, you could add a can of chickpeas to the tomato and cucumber salad, as well as some of the leftover feta.

Here are my receipts for the meal (the first grocery store was out of Orzo, so I had to stop at a second store on the way home!)

8-4-15 Rouse's8-4-15 Winn Dixie

So, my receipt total for this meal is $14.12, which is quite a bit higher than the ingredient total ($8.39). Usually they’re fairly close, but I attribute the large difference this time to the unused portions of feta and red onion (both of which were on the pricy side) and the fact that I bought a lemon that I didn’t end up using (oops!). More on how to make sure the rest of those ingredients don’t go to waste later…

Ingredient Lists

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to complete this meal. I’ve broken the list into two categories, pantry items and grocery items. Pantry items are ingredients that people are likely to have on hand or can be kept a long while and reused in other recipes, while grocery items are more specific to this recipe. As always, this will vary from person to person, so make sure to check both lists to see what you’ll need to purchase.

Pantry Items:

  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning – 5 tsp
  • Canola Oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Chicken Broth (Better Than Bouillon) – 2.5 cups
  • Olive Oil – 1/4 cup
  • Red Wine Vinegar – 2 Tbsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper

Grocery Items

  • Chicken Thighs (bone-in) – 4
  • Parsley – 1/4 bunch
  • Orzo – 1.5 cups
  • Feta – 2 oz.
  • Tomatoes – 4 Roma
  • Cucumber – 1 medium
  • Red Onion – 1/2 small

Lemon Pepper Chicken Meal - BudgetBytes.com

Preparation Notes

The Lemon Pepper Chicken with Orzo dish has a 10-12 minute simmer time, which is the perfect amount of time to quickly slice up the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion for the Simple Tomato Cucumber Salad. You can mix up the dressing before beginning the Lemon Pepper Chicken, or if you work quickly, you can make the entire salad as the Chicken simmers. If you are sensitive to raw onion, you may consider preparing the whole salad before beginning the Lemon Pepper Chicken to allow the onions a little time to mellow out in the dressing.


If you live alone, I can vouch for both of these recipes lasting at least 3 days in the fridge. The Lemon Pepper Chicken will last a bit longer, but the tomato cucumber salad will begin to become quite soft after that. The Lemon Pepper Chicken with Orzo will freeze just so-so, with the possibility of being a bit dry upon reheating. The Tomato Cucumber salad is not a good candidate for freezing.

If you had to buy a whole chunk of feta for this meal, like I did, you definitely don’t want the leftovers of that expensive cheese to go to waste. Feta has a fairly long life in the refrigerator because of its high salt content, which can delay the growth of mold and fungus, but it can also be frozen for longer storage. Wrap the leftover feta tightly in plastic, then place it in a freezer bag. The cheese will be a little more crumbly upon thawing, but the flavor will be intact.

Here’s a great recipe for using up the leftover feta, parsley, AND orzo: Carrot & Orzo Salad. Or you could toss that feta into some mashed potatoes, a grilled cheese, or even a fresh slaw. Whatever you do, don’t let it go to waste! :) And what about that expensive red onion? Personally, I will probably be eating some form of pizza within the week, so it’ll be used for that. But it’s also a great addition to any salad, or my favorite Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas.