Fruited Chicken Salad

Fruited Chicken Salad . $4.18

This is an oldie that I’ve been making since it was passed around in the 80’s or so. It’s incredibly good, cheap to make, everyone seems to like it kids and adults alike. Best of all, the simple ingredients are available year round almost every where, and it’s a great use for left over chicken.

Fruited Chicken Salad
Fruited Chicken Salad

I’ve made a few changes over the years, leaving out the sunflower seeds (high in omega=6) and using pecans, instead; loading it up with grapes and celery, and using much less mayo and honey. Fresh herbs help, too…and they are always growing in my pot inside in the winter and on my kitchen steps in the summer.

Sometimes I make sandwiches, often I serve it over lettuce, and if I have the fancy little lettuces (think Aldi’s) lettuce cups come to mind.

Very inexpensive to make, as sandwiches it’s well under five bucks or so, and well worth it to sneak in a few fruits and vegetables.

Fruited Chicken Salad,

serves 4 generously, cost $4.18

  • 2 chicken breast halves, preferably bone-in, skin on, about 2 1/2 cups of chicken breast, diced or shredded
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of grapes, sliced in half (see photos, below)
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced or finely diced, about a cup
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise – I start out with about 3 tablespoons and see how it looks
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons honey, as desired
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon or basil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or cashews

Roast chicken at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, until done. Remove from oven and let cool as you put together the other ingredients, then remove the bone and cut or pull into bite sized pieces. (Remember to save the bone for chicken stock.)

Cut grapes in half (see below), slice or dice celery and dice onion. I like to use the celery leaves in the salad, and then later in the garnish, too.

Put all into a bowl, add mayonnaise, honey, Dijon and tarragon or basil. Check and make sure it tastes good to you; I like it strongly flavored and a little zippy, but adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. Salt and pepper to taste, remembering when you add nuts, they may be salty.

Just before serving add cashews or sunflower seeds. Nuts or seeds may become soggy in the dressing; if left overs are apparent, add them to just the portion of the salad you know you’ll be using.

The next day, this will not look as attractive as the mayonnaise will mingle with the grape juices and get a little watery, but it will taste even better.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • Use this recipe when you have leftover chicken, or even better, make extra chicken when you cook it for dinner and plan on making this salad.
  • Chicken:  Buy at the lowest prices you see and freeze until you need it.  Mine was from several weeks ago when chicken reached $1.29 at the store for the first time this year.  I often bake an extra breast just for this salad or another dish when I’m making chicken breast for dinner.  Save the bone in a Ziploc bag in your freezer until you’ve accumulated enough to make a broth.  You could speed up this process, too, by using a poached boneless skinless breast; I think the oven roasted bone in breast adds a bit more flavor.  This is also a good candidate for leftover turkey!  $1.55
  • Grapes:  They are on and off sale all the time, all year round.  Buy them on sale if they look good.  Be sure to wash them very thoroughly, even if they already look clean – they’re on the top 12 list of foods that retain pesticides. Per pound look for $1.29 to 99 cents.  Cost 50 cents.
  • Celery:  Again, often on sale, usually just a few cents lower than regular price, try to pick up around $.99 or lower.  No sense in wasting those pennies as celery keeps well.  If it’s awkward to fit in your fridge, just trim off the root end and put it in your stock bag.  I save these items all week and make a stock almost every weekend.  If not, I freeze them.  Think while you have your celery out if it might be worthwhile to slice, dice or cut it for another recipe you’re making later in the week.  This is another item you’ll want to wash thoroughly.  Cost 20 cents.
  • Red Onion:  Again, another vegetable that does get discounted now and then.  Buy several when they’re on sale because they keep, literally for months.  Red onion does have a strong, fresh bite, so if you don’t care for that substitute green onion.  I try to have several ideas in mind as to how I’ll use my red onion before I cut into it because I generally don’t use the whole onion in any one recipe.  If I can’t use it before it’s on its way to going bad, I’ll saute it quickly, put in a Ziploc and label for later.  Cost 10 cents.
  • Mayonnaise:  I buy several jars throughout the summer so I’ll have cheap mayo all year round.  I have to say I prefer Hellmanns, but as you can see, I’ve picked up Kraft due to price.  Best to buy in the summer with coupons, I often find for $1.00 a jar.  The small sacrifices add up.  You could use yogurt or greek yogurt, the thicker the better in this.  Make your own by layering cheese cloth over a strainer, placing the whole works in a bowl, making sure sure there is space between the strainer and the bowl and then loosely covering it and placing in the fridge for 12 to 36 hours. Cost 5 cents.
  • Honey:  I often buy, of all places, at Walgreens.  They’ll put their honey on sale several times a year with a little coupon in their ad for the discount.  They’re pricing beats almost any I’ve seen for basic honey.  Now and then, I’ll pick up nice honey at the farmer’s market or even a farm I happen to by driving by.  Their stronger, floral flavors mean I’ll be able to use less in a lot of applications.  Cost 40 cents.
  • Sunflower Seeds and other nuts:  Often on sale during the winter holidays, look for coupons from the producer, too, at that time.  Aldi’s often has inexpensive nuts.  As you can see, I picked up a little bag of snack nuts for a few pennies, this time.  Store nuts in your freezer. Cost 40 cents.
  • Bread: Buy on sale and freeze – I double wrap and thaw in the fridge overnight.  This is Brownberries wide-pan Oatmeal.  There are coupons now and then that coincide with sales.  Cost for bread $1.99, eight slices are 88 cents.

Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:

To cut your grapes, lay down a lid with a lip, fill it with whatever round objects you wish to slice in half. Put a second lid on top and press firmly down with your hand and run a sharp knife horizontally between the two lids:

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Per Serving, based on the full amount of mayo and honey: 453 Calories; 36g Fat (66.8% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 33mg Cholesterol; 248mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 Fruit; 3 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

The fat content is a little high, but some of that is from the nuts; I also count on serving this in a sandwich or over lettuce greens, which improves the total ratio for the meal.  You could use a reduced fat Mayo or Greek, homemade Greek style, or regular lowfat yogurt.  See under Money & Time Saving Strategies, above.

Put Your Own Spin on It:

  • I like to load this salad up with as many veggies and fruits as I think my family will tolerate.  It’s certainly fine with less, if you have picky eaters, or it also makes a great vegetarian salad without the chicken.
  • Vary your fruits or try any combination you like.  This is perfect in the summer with freshly ripe nectarines.
  • It’s also very good with precooked wild rice and/or water chestnuts.
  • I can’t help but think how gorgeous this would be served layered in a clear glass bowl at a potluck or function, then mixed on the spot, or even in “Salad Jars” to take to work like I saw on “Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body.

My Pay Off: 

This recipe uses very familiar ingredients that I know even my son will eat, and feels a little light and festive during the long winter season, and a great use of left over chicken for a no heat up the kitchen summer meal.

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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