Baked Italian Chicken

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on October 6, 2009





I’m often asked…well, how much do your kids eat?  How much do you give them?

How about a “visual” answer to that question.  Above is my 2 year old’s plate.  Before and After.

He nearly polished off the chicken, almost all of the peas and squash, and ate at least half of his rice…before declaring himself, “fuh,” and asking to be excused.

Tonight’s dinner comes from the freezer. Remember those farm fresh chicken breasts for $1.79/lb from a few weeks ago…well, before I froze the chicken, I added about 1 cup of Italian dressing (that I recently got on sale with a coupon for $.49) into the freezer baggie with the chicken. I took the chicken out last night and put it into the fridge…where it has been thawing and marinating all day!

Plus, that butternut squash from last night’s meal was MUCH larger than I thought! We only ate half of it last night, so we’ll finish the rest tonight. If there is any leftover after tonight, then I’ll use it to make more of these delicious squash muffins!

A simple and nutritious dinner…

4 small or 3 large (about 1.2 lbs.) chicken breasts ($2.14)
1 cup Italian dressing ($.25)
1 cup brown rice, uncooked ($.40)
1 half (about 1 lb.) of LARGE butternut squash ($.57) Leftovers
2 cups frozen peas ($1)
Plus some BBQ sauce for the kid’s chicken ($.10)

My “never pay more than” price for 16 oz. bag of frozen veggies is $1!  Stock up when these go on sale!!!

1. Marinate chicken breasts in Italian dressing in a 9×13-inch glass baking dish for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Bake marinated chicken breasts at 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
3. Cook brown rice according to package directions.  Takes about 45-50 minutes for “raw” brown rice to cook!
4. Reheat or cook butternut squash.
5. Cook frozen peas as directed on package instructions.
6. Serve Baked Italian Chicken with Brown Rice, Butternut Squash, and Peas.

Cost $4.4

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

sherri October 6, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Great little dinner. For under $5- I’m impressed!


Shannon R.P. October 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Whoa! I wish I could get my 2 yr old and 3 yr old to eat that much!!! =o)


Linda October 6, 2009 at 7:28 pm

It looks like you’re blessed with a good eater! That’s a big dinner for a two year old! I’m happy on nights when my 7 year old eats that much (but she is on the small side and does only weigh 47 pounds). I was happy to see that your “separated plates” don’t translate into picky eaters. My sister-in-law always fed her kids on them and they are very picky eaters (in college now!) so I’ve always had it in my mind that the “separated” food helped contribute to that. Obviously one of those “when I have kids I won’t do it that way” mind sets that I developed that wasn’t true after all!


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 6, 2009 at 7:47 pm


No picky eaters here! My 2 year old eats just about anything I put in front of him! And he’s got his daddy’s metabolism…High! He is a great eater!


Jessica October 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Love it! Love it! My son can be picky at times, but is beginning to clear his plate too!

Great post!


Kari October 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

I’m lucky when My 8 year old can eat half of that and he’s only 52 lbs, a little picky so I have to puree the veggies and put them into sauces.

You have awesome eaters! Great blog!


Tara October 6, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Where do you get those great plates? I love them!


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 6, 2009 at 10:37 pm


We got them at the Pottery Barn outlet 2 years ago. They are a key part to every meal! I’m not sure if they’re still made or how to find them! Sorry :(



Tara October 7, 2009 at 12:24 am

@Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom,

Thanks Erin! I’ll keep looking :)


LeeAnne Hudson October 7, 2009 at 10:42 am

@Tara, I have found several divided plates at Target—they are usually seasonal, but my little one doesn’t mind eating from a Santa plate year round!! :-)


Emily January 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

I also got some, from Walmart a couple years ago, in the summer plastic-ware section of the store. Look for them again when they bring out the summer tablecloths and plastic dishes. :) Good luck! My oldest son likes them, since he can’t stand mixing up his foods & having them touch (unfortunately, I know exactly where he gets that…).


Lori October 7, 2009 at 2:21 am

What a great site! As opposed to frozen veggies though, I like to buy fruit and veggies when they are on sale and spend the time to cut these up. You can find out more about my frugal ideas, including this one through my site at

I LOVE that you have a pay-no-more than limit, me too! In fact, I have a giant list of things that I won’t buy unless they are practically free, including MANY household items. Thanks for the ideas and I too, love the plates!!


Christina Baita October 7, 2009 at 9:58 am

This is awesome. I have a 6yr old son who is a pretty good eater too. A little spoiled since he seems to want to eat out all of the time. Not sure where that came from. His favorite meal is actually baked chicken, broccoli and applesauce. I wish that he would eat mashed sweet potatoes. Any suggestions? Thanks.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 7, 2009 at 11:18 am

@Christina Baita,

Keep offering them! Would he eat them if you added some sweetened chopped walnuts?!?


Christina Baita October 7, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Nope. Doesn’t like nuts. Unless they are peanuts and on the plane. I will keep trying though. I know that it isn’t always a first time thing. I can’t believe that he get’s excited when he is eating something healthy. Of course, he still want’s pop tarts some times. I don’t want to buy them though because they have artificial colors, flavors, hydrogenated oils, ect…ugh. Pick my battles, right?


Jennifer Cinotti February 10, 2010 at 8:39 am

@Christina Baita,

I swear my 5 year son has to be the pickiest eater EVER… which is odd because his father & I eat everything!! :) I have found that when I have Ty “Help Mom” make dinner ie: put on an apron, get out the juice etc. he seems to eat better. (strange boy) I also fake him out by making baked sweet pot. french fries & shredding veggies into his hamburgers. Good Luck!



claudia October 12, 2009 at 8:00 pm

@Christina Baita,

try adding some pineapple (crushed or tidbits) or chopped apple to the mashed sweet potatoes. also ground cinnamon enhances sweet potatoes


Victoria October 8, 2009 at 11:09 am

Wow your 2 year old is a great eater! I just started using anthony’s separated plate and he loves it. I got it for .50 on summer clearance at our local DG. :)


Jenn January 22, 2010 at 8:51 pm

What about making sweet potato fries? Maybe looking like french fries would make them more appealing to kids?

I’ve tried every trick I can with my kids but they don’t like the consistency. They find them too mushy no matter which way we prepare them. I’ve hidden a little bit in sauces, but can’t get them to eat it intentionally.


grace January 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I love chicken marinated in italian dressing. I have not done this in quite some time will have to do it soon. Thanks for the idea


Melinda @ Trailing After God January 9, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Great dinner! I have four kiddos, none of them are picky eaters. We introduce them to new foods all the time and always have so to them, eating sushi is normal and so is trying new things :) Thanks for the menu! I am so looking forward to your ideas and recipes!


Suzanne January 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I am trying to learn from your frugal ways and am working through your meal plans now. I am finding it very difficult here in Canada though. There just aren’t the same coupons/sales like you guys have in the states.
I checked flyers for all the local stores the past few weeks and the cheapest I could find chicken breast ended up being about $2.50 per breast! Very frustrating.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 19, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Hey Suzanne! I have heard this many a time from Canadians! Be sure to check out my resources for Canadians…

Hope that helps!



Suzanne January 23, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Thanks Erin! I’ll keep trying! This is certainly making me think a lot more about what I spend as well as planning ahead. Thanks for doing this!
I think not having coupon matching is our biggest disadvantage!


Linda May 30, 2011 at 1:27 am

That is insanely cheap for chicken! I live in Australia and we pay $19 (approx US$20) per kilo (2.2lbs) of free-range chicken.


Jessica July 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I found these plates on amazon(one of my favorite places to shop.)I’ll most likely be ordering these and trying them out,I’l let you know how they do.


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