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Composed: Mar 1, 2023

Author: Autumn

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Affordable Eats: Savory Chicken Soup with Bacon

The inspiration for this Bacony Chicken Soup comes from an account I follow on TikTok called Dollar Tree Dinners. The creator makes meals using ingredients only from Dollar Tree. I love the concept and she comes up with some really great-looking and great-sounding meals, usually for a very affordable price. The only thing is, most of what she makes is very carby. High-carb meals do not serve my body well so I wouldn't be able to realistically consume most or all of what she posts. Still, I love the concept and I love that she is giving people ideas for making food that is easily accessible and that comes with a budget-friendly price tag.

The concept got me thinking. Could I prepare meals using only Dollar Tree ingredients that fit my way of eating, and if so, would they still be budget-friendly? Many foods, such as canned goods, are actually cheaper at stores like Walmart.

For background, I follow a very specific way of eating because I have a health condition that is known to cause weight gain, swelling, pain, and limited mobility. I manage my condition with diet and I wanted to provide some ideas for others, like me, who are unable or unwilling to eat high-carb foods. Many people with health conditions are disabled and on a fixed income, so I wanted to come up with some budget-friendly ideas. And, being disabled, many people do not have the ability to go to multiple stores to shop for sales or go to local farms to source high-quality grass-fed meats at a more reasonable cost than you might find in a grocery store.

Dollar Tree does have some food items that are very low-carb and have relatively clean ingredients. Food additives generally do not serve my body well, which is another reason I avoid many of the things for purchase at Dollar Tree. Most food additives increase swelling, cause weight gain, and increase my overall pain. But Dollar Tree does have some items, such as their unflavored pork rinds, that have simple ingredients. The pork rinds contain only two ingredients: pork skin and salt. But, pork rinds aren't really a meal.

As Rebecca from Dollar Tree Meals has pointed out, not everyone has a pantry stocked full of oils, seasonings, and spices, so making recipes that are truly budget-friendly and accessible means not assuming people have access to these items. And, in the interest of full transparency and honesty, saying I spent a certain amount of money on a meal, then adding all sorts of things I already had in my pantry wouldn't really be fully honest anyhow. So, as she does, for this series I'm aiming to stick to what I buy and not use things from my pantry or fridge.

And of course, it won't be appropriate for everyone who has a medical condition to treat their condition with the same diet I do and this isn't medical advice.

So, that's the history, inspiration, and reasoning for the choices I've made here.

As a part of my Budget Meals series, I'm going to be making three versions of Bacony Chicken Soup. The first version will be using only ingredients from Dollar Tree. The second and third version will be using only ingredients from Walmart. One version will be using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from Walmart and the other version will be using a raw, whole chicken. My goal with each of the three versions is to only use what I buy at each store and not incorporate any ingredients I already have in my fridge or pantry.

Dollar Tree Bacony Chicken Soup

Here is a TikTok Video I did describing how I made the Dollar Tree version of the soup and what I thought of it:

@autumnallyear.us Using only ingredients from Dollar Tree, I made a low-carb bacony chicken soup for two. this meal was very easy to prepare, it tasted great, and it was super budget friendly. I'm going to make a comparable meal using ingredients from Walmart next and compare the two. Once I have both meals I will be putting this up on my website for a more thorough analysis of their similarities and differences. The link to my website, AutumnAllYear.us, can be found in my bio. #dol#dollartreel#dollartreemealsw#lowcarbi#chickensoupc#baconychickensoupd#budgetmealss#easymeal ♬ original sound - Autumn

Cost Analysis

Did you know Dollar Tree has bacon? I didn't! It's a small pack, it contains only 4 slices of bacon, but it's only $1.25. I grabbed that plus two cans of chicken, and a few other ingredients. Here's what I bought and what each item cost:

Dollar Tree ingredients for Bacony Chicken Soup

Although to be fair, I only used 1/3 of the bag of frozen seasoning blend, 1 tsp of the jar of minced garlic, and 4 servings of Dan O's seasoning packet. So the full cost of the meal comes out to:

The total cost of all these ingredients was $5.56 and I got two servings out of this, so the cost works out to $2.78 per serving.


It really didn't take much effort to put this meal together. I did dice up my bacon before cooking it, but I just as easily could have cooked it first, and then crumbled it. Everything else was already cut up, minced, or pre-cooked.

I only needed one pot and, all total, it took me less than an hour to make. I didn't need any other seasonings or salt from my pantry. The ingredients I used had a good amount of salt in them and the end product had a good flavor. It wasn't too salty or under-salted. It had plenty of flavor from the Dan O's, minced garlic, bacon, and seasonings from the chicken broth. I used the bacon grease to cook my veggies, so I didn't need to add or buy any additional oil. Everything I used to make this meal came from Dollar Tree.

Bacon cooking in pan

The first step was to slice the bacon strips and cook them in a deep pot.

Once they were crispy, I removed the bacon from the pan but left the rendered fat and used that to cook my seasoning blend (onion, peppers, celery, and parsley) and 1 tsp of minced garlic. I used one serving of seasoning blend, which is 2/3 cup.

Seasoning blend (onion, peppers, celery, and parsley) and 1 tsp of minced garlic cooking in pan

Once the seasoning blend and garlic were cooked, I added the full box of chicken broth and 2 tsp of Dan O's seasoning. I let that simmer on the stovetop for about 30 mins. I then added both cans of chicken (drained) and the bacon I'd previously cooked and let the whole soup cook for a couple of mins (just long enough for the chicken and bacon to heat through) and I was ready to serve.

Full box of chicken broth and 2 tsp of Dan O's seasoning cooking in pan


This dish tasted good! It had a good amount of saltiness (not too much and not too little), it had a good herby flavor from the broth and Dan O's seasoning, and the bacon added a nice meaty flavor. The chicken didn't really stand out, but it took on the flavors of the stock and the whole soup tasted good.

Dollar Tree Bacony Chicken Soup

Nutritional Breakdown

I calculated the macros for this, and it works out to 27.2g of protein, 5.0g of carbs, 11.7g of fat, and 220 calories per serving. Admittedly, this is a very low-calorie meal. I could not eat a meal like this every day or I'd be on a starvation diet. But, it was quite filling and I felt satisfied after eating it.


For the most part, the ingredients of the products I bought weren't bad. The broth was the worst. The frozen seasoning mix was only veggies and parsley:

Seasoning Blend ingredients: onion, celery, red and green bell pepper, parsley

The packet of Dan O's Seasoning was also very clean, from an ingredient perspective:

Dan O's Seasoning blend ingredients: Dehydrated garlic and onion, spices, sea salt, mustard seed, lemon peel and orange peel

The minced garlic ingredients:

Minced garlic ingredients: garlic, water, phosphoric acid

The bacon wasn't as clean but is comparable to what you find at most other stores unless you're willing to spend more. Remember, we're aiming for healthy on a budget here.

Bacon ingredients: cured with: water, sodium lactate, salt, sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate, lactic acid starter culture, smoke flavor, sodium nitrite

The canned chicken Ingredients:

Canned chicken ingredients: cooked white chicken meat, water, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, modified food starch, sodium phosphates

And the broth…the broth was the worst. If you're really going for healthy, I'd recommend making a trip to Walmart:

Chicken broth ingredients: filtered water, chicken broth base (chicken broth, natural chicken flavors (with other natural flavors), dextrose, salt, natural flavors, yeast extract, celery juice concentrate, carrot juice concentrate, onion juice concentrate, turmeric), sea salt

Walmart Bacony Chicken Soup

At Walmart, I have access to a lot more ingredients. I wanted these two soups to be very comparable, so I stuck very closely to the same ingredients I used for the Dollar Tree version. I still used chicken, but instead of canned, I used rotisserie chicken. Often, things like bagged frozen veggies are not the most economical way to shop at Walmart, so I bought fresh onion and bell pepper, and I got some fresh rosemary.

Here is a TikTok video describing how I made the Walmart version of the soup and what I thought of it:

@autumnallyear.us Replying to @autumnallyear.us part two of my Budget Meal series comparing Bacony Chicken Soup made first with only ingredients from Dollar Tree and then only ingredients from Walmart. Part three will be a clean ingredient version of the same soup. The full details are available on my website, AutumnAllYear.us. #bacon #chickensoup #dollartreemealsunder10 #dollartreemeals #walmart #budgetcooking ♬ original sound - Autumn

Cost Analysis

Since I bought a rotisserie chicken, I didn't need to buy a box of stock. Instead, I first removed the meat, then used the inedible parts of the chicken to make my own stock. Here's what I bought and how much each item cost:

Ingredients for Walmart Bacony Chicken Soup

Total cost: $16.09. I used everything I bought except the rosemary. I only used 1/2 the amount of rosemary I purchased, so if I only add 1/2 the cost of the rosemary, that makes the total cost for the meal $15.10. I got 10 servings out of this, so the cost per serving is $1.51. That's $1.27 less per serving than I spent at Dollar Tree.


Meat from rotisserie chicken

Making this soup was more time-consuming and more effort than the Dollar Tree version. I first removed all the meat from the rotisserie chicken and placed all the inedible parts of the chicken into a stock pot. I also removed the papery (inedible) parts of the onion and placed those in the stock pot as well. Finally, I added two sprigs of rosemary and enough water to cover everything. I first brought the stock to a boil, then simmered it for about 5 hours. I added more water to keep everything submerged as some water evaporated off while simmering.

Rotisserie chicken bones, rosemary sprigs, onion paper, and water in stock pot

This process could have been sped up with the use of an Instant Pot, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible and aimed to use only one pot.

Once the stock was complete, I drained it all into a glass bowl and discarded the solids. In a deep pot, I cooked up the entire 24 oz pack of bacon. Once cooked, I removed the bacon. I used 30g (about 2 tbsp) of the rendered bacon fat to cook my veggies so I didn't need any additional oil to prepare this dish. I cooked the diced onion and peppers with another sprig of rosemary in the bacon fat.

Once the onions were translucent, I removed the rosemary and added the stock. I let that come up to a boil, then added the chicken and let that heat through. At this stage, I was starting to get a little nervous because it definitely needed salt. But, I still had a couple more ingredients to add, so I held off on adding any salt from my pantry.

Something else I added here was the skin from the rotisserie chicken. Normally, I use the skin to make the stock, but I didn't do that this time. There is a lot of nutrition in the skin. It's high in protein, especially collagen, and it contains a lot of great-tasting flavor. The reason I usually don't use the skin in the finished soup is that I don't love the texture of it when it's still attached to chunks of meat. So, instead, I pulled it off the meat and diced it finely. I added the finely diced skin to the soup and immediately it tasted better. There was a good amount of salt and other seasonings in that skin.

Lastly, I added the bacon and tasted the soup again. After the addition of the bacon, the soup had a nice salty, herby, meaty flavor and I was ready to serve.

Walmart Bacony Chicken Soup


This soup was really good. It had a great meaty, herby, flavor with just the right amount of salt. It is all the things you want chicken soup to be. I did not add any additional salt to this from my pantry. Everything I used to cook and season this soup came from the ingredients I bought at Walmart.


Nutritional Breakdown

That's a big difference in nutrition from the Dollar Tree version and it cost less per serving.

You could stretch this to 15 servings to get the nutritional profile more comparable to the Dollar Tree version. This, of course, would also bring the cost per serving down.

If you got 15 servings out of this, you would have 27.1g of protein, 5.2g of carbs, and 26.3g of fat per serving, and each serving would cost $1.07. That's much closer to the nutritional profile I got out of each serving from Dollar Tree and costs less than half of the cost of each serving from the Dollar Tree meal.

But, my household consists of all adults, and knowing how my household eats, that isn't realistic. So, for us, 10 servings is just a more honest analysis.

The ingredients for the Walmart version were better but not perfect either. The veggies and rosemary were obviously the cleanest ingredients used. The Walmart bacon was a little cleaner than the Dollar Tree bacon.

Walmart bacon ingredients: cured with: water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite

And the rotisserie chicken ingredients:

Walmart rotisserie chicken ingredients: chicken without neck and giblets, water, vinegar, sea salt, seasoning (dried chicken broth, natural flavor (rosemary extract)), carrageenan. Rubbed with: spices, garlic powder, salt, dehydrated lemon peel, citric acid, corn starch, dehydrated parsley, natural flavors

Now, onto the final installment!

A Clean Ingredient Version

For the third, and final, installment of this series, I am making a clean version of this soup, utilizing only ingredients from Walmart.

Cost Analysis

To make a clean ingredient version of this soup, I'm starting with a whole, uncooked chicken. This eliminates the additives in the rotisserie chicken and in the canned chicken I used in the previous two versions of this soup. I also purchased clean-ingredient bacon. Here is what I bought and how much each item cost:

ingredients used in clean ingredient bacony chicken soup

I used everything, including all the rosemary, in this recipe, so $19.80 is the full cost to make this meal. I got 10 servings out of this, which means that per serving, the cost is $1.98.

For reference, that is $0.80 less than the Dollar Tree version of this dish and it is $0.47 more expensive than the Walmart version I made using a rotisserie chicken.


Starting with a whole, raw chicken means that this soup is a lot more effort. The first step was to cook the chicken. I removed the chicken from its packaging and drained the liquid. I placed the whole chicken in my stockpot and covered it with water. To that, I added a couple of sprigs of rosemary. I brought the pot up to a boil, then reduced the heat and continued to boil for an hour and a half.

@autumnallyear.us Today I'm doing the third and final installment on my budget meal series, Bacony Chicken Soup. If you missed the first two installments you can find those on my website, AutumnAllYear.us. The third installment will be a clean ingredient version of this soup. ##chickensoup##cleancooking##baconychickensoup##keto##ketoforlipedema##budgetmeal##cookingathome##chicken ♬ original sound - Autumn

Once the chicken was fully cooked, I removed it from the stockpot and set it aside to cool. Once the chicken cooled enough that I was able to handle it, I separated all the meat and used the inedible parts of the chicken to make the stock.

I placed the inedible parts of the chicken in the water I used to boil the whole chicken, added the papery parts of one onion, and a few sprigs of rosemary. I brought this up to a boil and boiled it for about 5 hours total.

@autumnallyear.us Replying to @autumnallyear.us The next step in making Bacony Chicken Soup is to make the stock. I separated the meat from the in edible parts of the chicken. To the stock pot that I already boiled the whole chicken in, I added the in edible parts of the chicken, the papery of one onion, and a few springs a rosemary. I'll bring this up to a boil and boil it for about five hours total. ##chickensoup##bacon##baconchickensoup##chicken##howto##howdoi##cookinginstructions##stock##chickenstock##bonebroth##broth##homemade ♬ original sound - Autumn

I chopped and cooked the entire pack of bacon. Once it was cooked, I removed the bacon and cooked the onions and peppers in the rendered fat.

I then added the drained stock, the cooked chicken, and the cooked bacon and heated it over medium heat until heated through.


This soup had a nice and herby taste, a good meaty flavor, and the bacon did add some salt. But it needed more. Even my taste tester agreed. This was the only soup in the series that I added salt to. But after adding a little salt, it was great!

Clean Ingredient Bacony Chicken Soup

Nutritional Breakdown

I got 10 servings out of this recipe and that works out to 48.5g of protein, 4.1g of carbs, 38.2g of fat, and 574 calories per serving.


For reference, here are the ingredients of the uncured bacon I used in this version of the soup.

Hormel Original Uncured Bacon ingredients: pork, water, salt, turbinado sugar, cultured celery powder, sea salt


There were positives and negatives to all of these options. The Dollar Tree meal is a lot less work. Not that putting effort into food prep bothers me, but there are situations where a lot of effort is just not an option. For example, if I were staying in a hotel without a knife to cut veggies and was short in time, the Dollar Tree meal has the appeal of being very easy to make, tasty, and it's a cheaper option for two adults than fast food. Plus, Dollar Tree stores exist in many areas, making this a reasonable option in many locations.

The Dollar Tree meal was also extremely low in calories. This is not a meal that could be consumed on a regular basis. Eating so few calories would result in a starvation diet.

The Walmart version using a rotisserie chicken tasted better, had a better nutritional profile, and was cheaper per serving. But, it took a lot more effort to prepare, required more cook time, and produced way more food. More food isn't a bad thing if you're cooking at home and have the ability to save the remaining portions for later on. But, if I were cooking for an overnight stay in a hotel, having so much food left over is completely unreasonable.

Unfortunately, both the Dollar Tree and rotisserie Walmart options came with some unwanted food additives. The clean version didn't have those additives. However, it was a lot of effort to make. It took me all day to cook this soup from start to finish.

Both my taste tester and I agreed that the version made with the rotisserie chicken had the best flavor. And it was also the most budget-friendly.