Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta

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This recipe is Part 1 of my new series:  Easy, Healthy Budget Meals!  Tune in every Wednesday for a new recipe that’s super fast, super healthy, and super frugal!

Meal planning is by far, the easiest way to save on your grocery budget each month.  It’s also one of the most difficult things to make yourself sit down and do!

Cooking dinner is definitely not one of my favorite things to do, but I know we are saving our family A TON of money by planning ahead and avoiding fast food restaurants on our way home.

Since my husband and I are on a debt free journey, (and trying to stay healthy too), we only go out to eat on very rare or special occasions.

We are also super busy at work and wrangling three young kids, which means we have to plan our meals in advance!

We simply can’t afford the added stress of wondering what’s for dinner, when we are already exhausted from the day.

Time Saving Tip:  We almost always double the recipe and eat leftovers the following night.  This way we don’t have to cook every night!

Over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight some of our favorite, quick and easy budget friendly meals!

I’ve also included some of my favorite time and money saving tips throughout the recipes (because if there’s a cooking shortcut-i’m on it!)

They are low cost and low calorie, and taste delicious!  I hope you love them as much as we do!

More Budgeting help:

Easy, Healthy Budget Meals Week 1:  Chicken Pesto Pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Simple, but filled with so much flavor!  We usually don’t have a side dish with this meal, but you could add a veggie or two!

Serves: 4

Calories:  412 per serving

Time to cook:  25 minutes

Kid friendly?:  My 3 year old daughter will eat this, but the 5 year old picky guy…no such luck!


8 ounces ziti (we use whole grain, but regular is cheaper!)

50 fresh basil leaves (finely chopped)

Time Saving Tip:  We have been using this tube of basil (the whole thing) per batch when we want to save time, or can’t find enough fresh basil leaves.  

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Time Saving Tip:  Sometimes we use this pre minced garlic (but it’s more expensive!)

2 tablespoons warm water

4 tablespoons pine nuts (crushed)

Frugal Hack:  Buy in bulk to save money! We eat this meal several times per month so we always have a Costco bag of pine nuts in the fridge.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


Step 1– Boil a pot of water over high heat.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Step 2– Combine basil, garlic, water, pine nuts, and oil to make pesto.

Time Saving Tip:  I love to use this simple kitchen gadget to mix up the pesto quick!  It crushes the garlic, pine nuts, and mixes everything together in about 1 minute flat!

Step 3– Use a non stick cooking spray to coat a medium frying pan.  Cook chicken for about 8 minutes per side.

Tip:  I always put the lid on the pan for the last half of cooking.  I think it helps the chicken cook through a little better!

Step 4– Once chicken is cooked through (no pink!), chop chicken into strips or cubes, and combine with pesto and pasta.

Step 5– Sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and stir!  Serve warm!

This makes a great lunch too, and even tastes great cold if you’re on the go!

This recipe is adapted from our favorite healthy and EASY cookbook The Shredded Chef.

What are some of your favorite easy, healthy budget meals?  Let me know in the comments so I can try them out!

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