Frozen Food Battle: Chicken Pot Pie

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My little bro has always been pretty independent. It’s been awesome to see him cooking as much and as well as he does but really when I look back, he’s always been up for preparing his own meals. As most hockey families can attest to, dinner time can be rather ambiguous. Often dinner consists of two portions. The first, after school, before practice and the second, late in the evening. The latter was, at least for us, a dinner prepared and ready to go in the oven. The former was often up to us. I relied on the deliciously salty ramen packets (it took  me a while to realize what was causing that awful dehydration…besides the hard work of course). But for my bro it has always been the Marie Callendars Chicken Pot Pie…

Chicken Pot Pie

Taste: I’ve actually always liked the Marie Callendar version of this classic. The vegetables aren’t mushy, the crust is flaky, and the filling is rather flavorful. But it definitely tastes like it was massed produced. I was excited to make my own because I knew I could dial in the taste to my liking, although I wanted to remain true to the competitors version. The only addition I made was by adding cremini mushrooms which added a earthy component to the filling that is otherwise missing. My version had great consistency and the perfect amount of salt (another advantage of cooking this yourself). The vegetables retained their crunch as I only quickly sauteed them before hand and this fresh taste to the meal was what really made it. I normally like to use homemade chicken stock but here’s a tip I use consistently. By poaching the chicken breasts in the store bought chicken stock, I not only gave the shredded chicken great flavor, I intensified the chicken flavor within the stock. Lastly, homemade crust will always outdo frozen. And there is no better compliment to such a delicious meal.

Cost: So many people tell me that cooking for themselves is so expensive. Especially if your cooking just for yourself this can be true and even more so if your not organized. If you only need one of something that comes in a bunch, try finding a way to utilize these ingredients the next few days. This goes back to learning cooking techniques instead of recipes. I fully anticipated my version of Chicken Pot Pie to be crushed by the Marie Callendar addition. Boy was I wrong. Using Fresh Direct for my cost calculations I made the comparison:

Marie Callendar’s Frozen Chicken Pot Pie 16.5 oz($4.84)

Homemade Version ($3.44)*

I don’t include the costs of seasonings because these are things we all have in our pantry. One important caveat is that I could not find the price for the 10 oz version of Marie Callendar’s. I have a feeling my portion size was somewhere between the two frozen sizes available but either way you can see that buying a frozen meal won’t necessarily save you money…

Time: But there is no question it will save you time. There is no denying that for all of these battles, the frozen entrees will have the important advantage of speed. The upside of frozen, is the convenience and there is no getting around that. But everything tastes better when you make it yourself. The time is worth the reward. These pot pies had about two hours of prep and cook time compared to the 8-15 minutes in the microwave for the frozen counterpart. I guess you can’t win them all…

Chicken Pot Pie is undeniably comfort food. The rich savory inside pocketed by a buttery flaky crust is delicious but it can’t be good for you right? Well why not? Fresh organic vegetables and poached chicken breasts having nothing but nutrition. Preparing the filling with out the addition of heavy cream limited unneccesary heaviness. So with the exception of the crust, this dish really isn’t bad for you. And how often do we have bread and butter with our meal without batting an eye.  Not to mention, by making this fresh, we’ve eliminated the majority of the ridiculous amount of sodium incorporated into the frozen entree. So next time you have that craving for Chicken Pot Pie, consider your options. You might still reach for the freezer door but if you have the time, give it a shot and make it on your own.

*Cost Analysis:

  • 1/2 red onion  $.33
  • 3 Carrots          $.66
  • 4 Celery Stalks$.50
  • 1/2 Container Cremini Mushrooms $1.75
  • 2 Cloves Garlic $.50
  • 1 Box Chicken Stock $2.99
  • 2 Chicken Breasts $4.00
  • 3 Cups Flour $.75
  • 2 Sticks Butter 2.29
  • Total (4 Pot Pies)  = $13.77
  • Total (1 Pot Pie) = $3.44
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One Response to Frozen Food Battle: Chicken Pot Pie

  1. smg says:

    you forgot the most important part! the frozen junk is 22 points and yours was only 10. this of course includes all the picking that i did.

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