Most of the time, I like KFC. But I hate commercials that think I'm stupid, and this is one of them. Of course it's going to cost you more than ten bucks to make this barebones, no-vegetables-included "meal" if you're going to buy, say, a five-pound bag of flour to coat seven pieces of chicken and make four biscuits. Most people who cook have all the ingredients (except maybe the chicken) in their kitchen already. So why don't we look at the real cost of making a seven-piece fried chicken dinner?
First, let's talk about seasoning. Supposedly, KFC uses "11 secret herbs and spices" to season their chicken. As much as I enjoy Kentucky Fried Chicken, I suspect that the list is closer to "1 secret MSG, 1 secret pepper, and 9 secret Salts." So let's ignore the bullshit in the ad's voiceover that says, "without our secret recipe, you can't cook it at all." We'll be using Bell's Seasoning, salt, and pepper, and not allowing KFC to weasel out on a technicality.
- 1 whole 4-pound chicken - cut up at home, giblets and abdominal fat reserved; two wings, two breasts, two thighs, two drumsticks; I usually pay .79 / pound for chicken, so this bird will cost $3.16
- 2 cups of flour for coating using the traditional flour/eggwash/flour method. Store brand flour at Stop & Shop is $2.29 for a five pound bag, or 3 cents an ounce. Two cups of flour weigh about 6 ounces, for a total cost of $0.36.
- To season the flour, we'll use a tablespoon of Bell's Seasoning, which costs $1.99 per box. Each box contains 14 teaspoons, at a cost of 14 cents per teaspoon. A tablespoon of it will cost us $0.42.
- We'll also need salt and pepper. Two teaspoons of salt cost about a penny. A tablespoon of ground black pepper costs about a quarter. So there's another $0.26.
- I pay $1.79 for a dozen eggs (15 cents each.) I use two eggs for the egg wash, costing $0.30.
- Milk (for the egg wash) is probably the most expensive item on this list, since I buy it at a local dairy and pay $2.50 for a half-gallon. Even so, that makes the quarter cup used here just $0.16 worth.
I'm going to cheat and use Bisquick, since my "from scratch" biscuits always come out kind of crappy. A 40-ounce box of Bisquick costs $3.49. One batch of biscuits needs 2¼ cups of Bisquick (90 cents) and 2/3 cup of milk (21 cents). That's $1.11 for twelve delicious biscuits.
MASHED POTATOES AND GRAVY:
Potatoes at my local produce store are 29 cents a pound. Let's be really generous and make a two-pound batch of potatoes. That will cost us $0.58.
Butter at Costco is about $2.00 a pound, so the lump of butter I'll use in the potatoes will cost $0.40. The milk in the potatoes - about 6 ounces or so - will cost another $0.24. for a total of $1.22.
By making gravy with the reserved chicken fat and giblets, we can make a little more than a cup of gravy for the cost of the flour - 6 cents. But we can cheat a little here, too, and use an envelope of chicken bouillon to bump up the flavor a bit. That means our gravy now costs $0.27.
That comes in well under the challenge amount, and the food is fresher and of better quality. And there's still room in the budget for the vegetables that KFC leaves out.
You lose, KFC.