You love to save money on groceries…who doesn’t? More and more people are turning to plant-based and non-meat foods not only as side dishes, but also as ingredients that make it easy to stretch one protein into several tasty and nutritious meals.
One roasted chicken can keep you satisfied for many meals if you plan strategically. Use your favorite recipe, or make it even easier and buy a rotisserie chicken. Either way, with some clever hacks and with the help of economical meal-stretching ingredients, you can be the next one-bird wonder.
First, a few tips:
- Cut as much of the meat from the bones as possible. Depending on your meal plans, shred, slice, or cube the meat and refrigerate it in an airtight container. Or, if you plan on serving whole thighs, wings, or drumsticks for one meal, separate those parts and set aside.
- Use your slow cooker to make chicken stock using the carcass. Just add water and any cut-up veggies you like, such as carrots, celery and onion to add flavor. You can use the stock for a soup recipe later in the week.
- Keep in mind that the breast meat dries out faster than the dark meat when re-used in recipes.
And now for some meal ideas:
- Day One (the day you roast your bird or buy a rotisserie chicken): Serve the thighs, drumsticks, and wings along with a simple vegetable and roasted sweet potatoes. Add a green salad if you wish.
- Day Two: Use some of the chopped breast meat to make chicken salad. Add plenty of celery, onion, shredded carrot, chopped pickles, and/or dried cranberries, chopped apple, or grape halves—whatever you like. The addition of chopped almonds adds even more volume (and protein)—so you really don’t have to use much chicken to have enough salad for sandwiches., For a speedy dinner, serve the chicken salad sandwiches with soup and fresh fruit for a nutritious meal.
- Day Three: Is it Tuesday? Then it’s taco night! Again, you can use minimum amounts of chicken when you add refried or black beans into the mix. Rice or quinoa can also bulk up the tacos, served on corn tortillas with salsa, sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and avocado slices.
- Day Four: Up for grabs! Get creative with what you have on hand. You could make a chicken potpie, filled with lots and lots of veggies and cubed potatoes to stretch your chicken further. You could do chicken omelets, filled with veggies like mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes, or do a quasi-Indian chicken masala, using spinach, sweet potato chunks, carrots, peas, some chicken and a jar of tikka masala sauce (or make your own). Serve with brown rice for a filling meal.
- Day Five: Today you use the chicken stock you made in your slow cooker earlier in the week. Make a traditional chicken soup with whatever chicken you have left plus carrots, celery, onions and noodles. Or go Asian-style and add Chinese five-spice powder, soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic to your broth. Add the chicken, some rice noodles (spaghetti works in a pinch), cubed tofu and fresh cilantro. Top with a lightly cooked hard-boiled egg half and you’ve got a Japanese ramen - Vietnamese pho combo that’s filling and healthful.