By Rebecca Chitolie


THIS THRIFTY mum shared the secret of how she created a chicken recipe under £3 per portion to feed her family of three in just over thirty minutes.

Mum-of-one, Chelsea Turnell (34) makes a quick, cheap and easy “Budget Chicken Dinner” recipe for her family of three, for a budget-saving £2.78 per portion.

Chelsea’s headshot green and white dress.

Chelsea is a Marketing Manager from Lincolnshire, England and cooks for her three-year-old son and her partner Eddy (35), a Senior Valuer at an Estate Agency.

The ingredients include three chicken breasts stuffed with two-thirds of a jar of red pesto, one pack of mozzarella and two-thirds of a pack of pepperoni which has been air-fried for 20 minutes. As well as a tin of peeled potatoes covered in oil and mixed seasonings, with three chopped bell peppers which have been air-fried for 25-30 minutes. Ingredients for the side dish include a packet of baby leaf salad, half a cucumber and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

This recipe serves a family of three, and costs £8.34 in total. It takes 30 minutes to make this recipe with a double compartment airfryer, and is approximately 600 calories per portion.

Chelsea suggested adapting this recipe to suit your family’s needs too.

“If I was doing this for young children I would perhaps omit the pepperoni but some kids enjoy spice, so it depends on your child”, said Chelsea.

The turning point that motivated Chelsea to try this dish out, was when her aunt gifted her a Lakeland dual airfryer, which now costs £99.

“I was kindly and unexpectedly gifted an airfryer from my auntie which led me to research affordable, easy air fryer dinners”, said Chelsea.

“I was so excited as I had one on my Christmas list, I had been wanting one for ages.”

She says the main factors that led to her idea of a budget chicken dinner was the cost of living crisis.

“It was the cost of living crisis that meant we had to look at cutting the shopping budget and reducing bills and expenses”, said Chelsea.

“I tend to stick to one pot or quick recipes when I’m doing family dishes, with as little clearing up as possible.

“You can literally walk off and leave it, especially if you have a double air fryer with two compartments.”

To make the recipe she researched them on social media.

“I researched air fryer recipes on Instagram, and foodie reels are full of ideas for air fryer recipes”, said Chelsea.

“I had read that airfrying could help to make ‘average’ food taste better plus it’s better for you and there is less clearing up, which is a winner when you’re a working mum.

“Usually I am of the opinion that the less ingredients the better, as well as less hassle, fuss and money.

“I naturally struggle with cooking as I find it hard and I don’t really enjoy it.”

Chelsea decided to share the recipe and her shopping lists with other people because she wanted to help others make the most of their money in a cost of living crisis.

“Reducing the bills in your home is one thing you have the most control over, and the shopping budget is one of those, and is the easiest of those to reduce”, said Chelsea.

“I especially want to help parents so their money could be better spent elsewhere, such as days out for children, towards a family holiday.

“I don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on food, some of which may go to waste.”

She is passionate about creating meals that are simple.

Chelsea with her son at a Gruffalo park.

“I’m super passionate about anything that can save me time, money and my sanity,” laughed Chelsea.

“Half the time toddlers decide they don’t want to eat what you’ve cooked,so I’d rather not spend an hour cooking it.

“It is super easy to make it, and tasty too.”

Chelsea’s son has special educational needs (SEN), and she says she wants to provide any thrifty tips alongside raising SEN awareness.

“I created thriftytipsandtripsmum with the intention of being the one stop parenting hub I would like to follow on Instagram”, said Chelsea.

“I cover kid friendly trips and days out, budgeting tips, organisation and SEN awareness, as my son has additional needs.

“I want to help other parents, save money whilst doing fun things with their kids and encourage everyone to learn about SEN.”

Her advice to someone who wants to create their own recipe but doesn’t know where to start is to follow a process.

“Work backwards, I shelf cook, so you get creative and cook from your cupboards, freezer and fridge first and then just top up with your food shop and make recipes to suit what you already have in your house.

“It saves on food waste and money this way, and also you get used to substituting ingredients rather than having to specifically buy every ingredient listed for a recipe.”

She provided tips for everyone who wants to make cheap and easy family meals.

“Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry”, Chelsea laughed.

Chelsea’s shopping update.

“Instead choose click and collect or delivery to save time and prevent impulse purchases.

“Meal plan on a Sunday and stick to what you need.

“Utilise your slow cooker, air fryer or anything that makes cooking easier.”

For more information follow @thriftytipsandtripsmum on Instagram.

Ingredients for three servings bought at Aldi:

3 x chicken breast (£4.17)

⅔ jar of red pesto (72p)

1x packet of mozzarella (69p)

⅔ x packet of pepperoni (78p)

1x Tin of peeled potatoes (57p)

3x Bell Peppers – chopped (87p)

⅓ x bag of baby leaf salad (24p)

½ x cucumber (25p)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (3p)

1 tbsp Mixed seasonings (2p)

TOTAL: £8.34