ONE chicken and FOUR meals
Looking for an easy hack to spend less time and money in the kitchen and more time outdoors? Make this approach to meal planning part of your spring schedule.
Spring is in the air and if you’re like me, you just want to be outside. I mean, like ALL THE TIME. Spending time outdoors doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice good food to be outdoors. We also don’t have to rely on the drive through for quick meals. We just need to practice planning out our time and our meals. Preaching to myself here!
Recently, I’ve taken full advantage of this easy hack for meal planning. It has freed up a lot of time plus it saves us money. That hack is taking advantage of an instant pot and a whole chicken. Preparing a whole chicken on Monday allows me to use that meat to create at least four evening meals. This lasts us throughout the week.
Prepare your chicken
Begin with preparing a whole chicken in your favorite way. This can be in an Instant Pot, slow cooker or roasting in the oven. Personally, I love the flavor of roasted chicken. But since we raise our own heritage breed chickens, they tend to have less fat on them. I’ve learned that the best method for our chicken is in the instant pot. My recommendation, though, is to use the cooking method that blesses you most. It may not sound like it, but this investment is truly going to save you time and money. You can check out my process for preparing a chicken here.
I generally like to make the chicken versatile for other recipes. So I prepare my chicken by brushing with olive oil and sprinkling salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then I place it in the instant pot with half a cup of water in the bottom of the pot. I then set my instant pot on pressure cook mode and cook for two hours. Depending on the breed of chicken, you could probably lower your cooking time. However, I find that two hours gives me a well cooked chicken with meat that literally falls off the bones.
Allow the chicken to cool about twenty minutes so you don’t burn yourself while handling it. Once it is comfortable to the touch, start to pull the meat away from the bone and place it in a separate container. Generally, I begin with pulling the breast meat sections off first, then move on to the thighs, legs and wings.
Once you have all removed the meat, make a batch of bone broth with the leftover bones and chicken parts. Here you can find more about the benefits of bone broth and how to make it. This can be used to sip hot for a spring morning boost, as a base for soups or as a liquid for sauces.
One bird, four ways
Now that you’ve got your meat set aside, visually divide it into four sections. Typically, this will mean meat from legs and wings, thighs and then the two breast for four separate meals.
On the first night, my usual meal will be the chicken on it’s own and topped with barbecue sauce. I pair it with some veggies. Here I chose mac and cheese, slaw and deviled eggs. This is a bit more than I would typically make for a Monday night. I just happened to have some boiled eggs leftover from the weekend.
The second night was a bit chilly. So I sautéed my chicken with some carrots, peas and mushrooms. Then I added a pie crust topper and created a chicken skillet pie.
Night three had me longing for some pasta. I sautéed some carrots, mushrooms and peppers along with the chicken, created a sauce and then added spaghetti. Topped off with a sprinkle of parmesan, it was delicious.
On the last night, I used the remaining chicken breast. I chopped it along with some apple, celery and walnuts to make a chicken salad. I coupled it with a large green salad and crackers.
If those four dishes don’t seem to fit your taste, never fear. Here are some additional options for using that chicken and stretching your time and money.
- chicken noodle soup
- curry chicken and rice
- chicken stir fry
- quinoa salad with chicken
- chicken and dumplings
- tortilla soup
- chicken casserole
- chicken tacos
- chicken sandwiches
- chicken flat bread pizzas
- baked potatoes topped with bbq chicken (load it up with peppers and cheddar)
- chicken tetrazzini
No time to cook that chicken? No problem.
Are dealing with an already packed schedule and don’t even have the time to cook that chicken? No problem. There are always even more short cuts. Almost all grocery stores now have rotisserie chickens available in their deli section. This is a great way to get the benefit of multiplying that bird, but in even less time.
Now get out there and enjoy this gorgeous weather, knowing dinner is in the bag!