How to Save Money » Frugal Living

My Frugal Failure – Chicken Breasts

My Frugal Failure โ€“ Chicken Breasts

Chicken Breasts
Last week I bought 3 large packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts from No Frills. They were on sale for a good price and we were running low on chicken, so I stocked up.

I brought the packages home and left them in the fridge for a few days, until I had time to package them for the freezer (I freeze them in individual portion sizes).

When the day finally came that I had time to package the chicken, I took it all out and got my plastic bags ready to go. I noted the expiration date on the packages and they were 2 days from the current date. I was good to go! Or so I thought…

I have a habit of smelling each chicken breast before I package it, just to make sure they are fresh – and when I did that with these breasts they smelled… different. I wouldn’t say they smelled bad. Trust me, I do know what a rotten piece of chicken smells like and I did not smell anything like that – but they did smell a bit off.

I kind of hummed and hawed over what to do. Should I wait for Richard to get home and then ask him his opinion? Should I assume the chicken is fine? Should I take it back to the store to demand a refund?

I decided that the chicken was fine. I packaged all 15 or so breasts in individual bags and popped them in the freezer for future meals. They smelled a bit funny, but they definetely did not smell rancid!

Fast forward another few days and we are at my dad’s house for dinner. I brought over the chicken breasts and was cooking them in the kitchen when, after about 15 minutes of cooking, I gave them a little sniff. Oddly, they smelled like fish. FISH CHICKEN! What the eff?! I thought that perhaps it was the new recipe I was trying out, it smelled fishy for some reason.

Once it was cooked, we all started eating and each of us had the same reaction – IT TASTES LIKE FISH. What the heck kind of recipe makes chicken taste like fish?!

I soon realized that it was not the recipe that was the problem, but that I had just cooked BAD chicken. That weird smell that I got from the raw chicken was in fact a sign that the chicken had gone bad.

Wow. Embarassing.

If I would have listened to my gut, which was telling me that something was off about the chicken, I wouldn’t have cut it all up and put it in the freezer. I would have brought it all back to the store and got some new, FRESH chicken.

Now, I am out $30 and 15 chicken breasts – but at least I have learned my lesson!


  1. Nancy

    Hi, that has happened to me before too, but usually it was my fault as I waited too long to put in the freezer. Had you seen the news stories lately? Maybe they were only out west, but they had hidden cameras in stores, big grocery stores, reputable, and they repackaged and relabelled chicken and other meats after washing them to get rid of the outer layer of slimey stuff. Have to watch it.

    Sorry that happened to you.

    On the upside, I love your website and blog!


  2. Michelle

    Too bad Cassie. Maybe you can tell the store about it when you go in next.

  3. Sara

    I as well stocked up on the chicken from No Frills, our family has had no problems with it thank goodness. I was excited for that sale and spent alot too.

    I aswell do individual packaging although I do it a different way and I find it saves my smaller ziploc bags and money. I use wax paper and individual wrap the breast or any meat for that matter and the put it in larger freezer bags and you can fit many in there. And they freeze well, not that chicken ever lasts long in my freezer anyway.

    That stinks that you got bad chicken, and were out $30 dollars.

  4. Alicia

    Ugh that’s the worse! I totally did that with meat before! It smelled weird but we cooked it and ate it anyway because I just bought it. Both of us were sick the next day :/ Jose said I was trying to kill him LOL. I was paranoid for awhile to cook meat after that. ๐Ÿ™

  5. Carrie

    happy no one got sick!!

  6. Diana

    that happened to me. I opened the package and they didn’t smell right – I started to cook them and the smell got worse. I threw the half cooked chicken breast in a bag and took them right back to the store and got my money back.

  7. teachermum

    Does the store actually refund your money if it is past the date? That surprises me. Not that I follow most expiry dates, but it would seem that is the store’s protection.

    I would have wrapped and frozen them-but after meat (especially chicken it seams) had been covered in that store plastic it does get a smell. I would (and have) rinsed them all and they smelled fine after that. I have tossed chicken (sadly) but it was well after 2 days past when I remembered them in the basement fridge!!!


  8. Me Again!

    Arghhh, sorry to hear about the fishy chicken and the 30 bucks!!! But getting sick would have cost you more in not working, meds etc… Always a silver lining….!

  9. eltada

    teachermum: I think she meant that it was two days before the expiry not after…that’s how I read it.

    I have had that happen to me before too – when I was pregnant with my daughter I cooked some chicken that kinda smelled a bit funny and when I cooked it, it smelled horrible (at least to my pregnant nose). I had my husband throw it all out and we went out for dinner. I didn’t cook chicken again for about 4 months!!!!

    I have returned chicken to NoFrills too when I could smell the chicken THROUGH the packaging…even the customer service girl said, “um ya, that’s gross!”. lol!

    Sorry to hear about your experience! ๐Ÿ™

  10. Cassie Howard

    eltada – yeah, there is just something about the smell when it’s cooking.. it just doesn’t smell right! haha, i have actually started smelling the chicken through the packages while i’m in the store. i guess i forgot to do it with these ones. ๐Ÿ™

    me again – i agree, getting sick would have been much worse!

    teachermum – yes, i think they would. dont think they would care that much.. they want you to come back, right?

    diana – i didnt cook them until days later. wish i had opened the package the day i bought them.. i would have taken them back for sure!

    carrie – me too ๐Ÿ™‚

    alicia – oh man! i love chicken too much, i cant stop cooking it. but i definetely am going to be scared every time i cook it for awhile!

    sara – im glad you have had no problems!

    michelle – yeah, i will probably do that… maybe. i dont shop at no frills often.

    nancy – oh no, i havent seen those stories. that is horrible.. and disgusting! and thank you for the compliment ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Christine

    I think one of the best places to buy boneless/skinless chicken breast is at FarmBoy (at least the one by my place in Ottawa) where it often comes out on sale at 8.80 per kg and they are always very large and fresh. They’ve got the best meat at fantastic prices when it’s on sale.

  12. Cassie Howard

    Thanks for the recommendation, Christine! I will look into that store. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Dannielle

    It’s happened to me too, I come home from the store and think I will make a meal with the chicken right away and then let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days and by then, the chicken has a funky smell. Here is a tip; wash it with vinegar and it will take the smell away. I’ve even let the chicken soak in the vinegar while I was getting the rest of the ingredients ready, then I rinse it and give it a final whiff. The vinegar wash does the job, I can cook it and it’s perfectly fine, there’s no vinegar taste to the meal and no one gets sick. Should the chicken still have a bad smell after the vinegar wash, then I would throw it away. As an aside, vinegar is used to tenderize meat so it can’t be bad to let the chicken soak in it. And this way, your $30 investment is not totally wasted.

  14. Cassie Howard

    Awww I wish I still had the chicken to try that, Danielle, but I’ve already thrown them out. ๐Ÿ™

  15. john waits

    what is it that you actually get from eating bad chicken i mean the bsickness what is it called

  16. Cassie Howard

    john: salmonella.

  17. goozneck

    all the chicken I have been buying taste like fish as well. if u boil it it doesn’t even have the fat like it used to ? makes me wonder is our food being cloned or scientific experience being done?

  18. Sarena

    Omg I googled ‘what dose it mean when chicken tastes like fish’ and found nothing good until your story. I googled because my mom bought a pre cooked whole chicken today and when I took a bite I thought it tasted like fish, when I told her she said “it tastes fine to me” so I took another bite from a different part of the chicken and agen it tasted like fish, after reading the story above I had to run to the nearest garbage can for obvious reasons. My mothers left to go to her friends down the hall, I checked the expiry date and it was for tomorrow. God I’m never getting pre cooked chicken agen, I am usually carful with chicken and very carful about cross contamination. From now on unless I buy, freeze and cook it myself I’m not eating it.

    • Cassie Howard

      Glad you found this post! It sounds like there was definitely something off with your chicken!

  19. Emily

    It could have been the โ€œcheapโ€ chicken. Apparently a cost cutting measure is feeding chickens fish meal – cheap and plumps them up etc, but alas makes the chicken taste fishy. :/ apparently thatโ€™s a thing on certain cheap brands.

  20. Liz

    Emily is correct. The fish taste and smell could come from the fact that some chicken farms feed the chicken dried out, ground up tuna and other fish. It has nothing to do with it being bad meat.

  21. KIM

    That happened to me tonight. Thanks Emily!! Now I know what is going on!! I’ve had this happen before and yuck. The sad thing is that I had just bought the chicken and grilled it (a long time because it was so big). Dinner was late and…didn’t need that. It was a $10 pack of Kroger brand chicken.

  22. Mike

    Your conclusion is incorrect. You didn’t cook chicken that had gone bad, you cooked low quality chicken. If your chicken breast has a fishy taste, it’s because your store’s supplier used too much fish meal in their chicken feed. This will give the chicken a fishy taste, and is likely responsible for your experience. I’ve had it happen to me before with Heritage Farms chicken breast from Kroger and Fresh Family from Aldi’s. I always thought that one chicken was much like another, and I had bought Heritage Farms for years. But last year, they went through a really bad streak with this consistent off flavor, and I did some research. Needless to say, I haven’t bought Heritage Farms ever since.

  23. Tina

    The exact same thing happened to me just today! I panfried some drumsticks and the texture is almost like basa fillet! I googled it and many suggested it could because of the “woody chicken”, a deformity of chicken”s muscle…..

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*