Meal prepping can be the perfect way to ensure you have easy weeknight meals for a stress free family dinner. One mistake many home cooks make is working harder, not smarter. One of the best ways to work smart is to choose one main protein and then use it in multiple dishes.
Chicken is a great and healthy option, especially when you bulk cook. Rather than cooking the chicken separately for each meal you can cook a large amount using the same method and then simply add that chicken to a host of different recipes.
Chicken thighs are a good option because, being dark meat, they tend to hold moisture better and retain more flavor throughout the process of heating and reheating. Also, chicken thighs are often a more economical option. However, if your family doesn’t like thighs, chicken breasts or other white meats can work perfectly well in the following recipes as well.
Roasting the Chicken
To prepare your chicken, line a sheet pan with foil and lay each chicken thigh out, unfolded. Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Flip the chicken over and repeat with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, flip, and roast for another ten to fifteen minutes. Be sure chicken reaches and internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Now that you have a “blank palette” to work with, you can prepare a number of meals that star your chicken but are different enough that no one will be bored with the same protein each night. Consider meals like:
Curried Chicken Salad – follow your normal chicken salad recipe and add a yellow curry powder or garam masala. For an extra zing add diced gherkin pickles. Serve in a pita, wrap, or lettuce cups.
Chicken Quesadillas – add your chicken to a quesadilla for a quick weeknight meal that can be customized with a variety of toppings for each person.
Chicken Tortilla Soup – make this ahead of time in the crockpot (you can find a host of recipes on Pinterest and similar sites) and then all you have to do is nuke it in the microwave and serve with cheese and sour cream
BBQ Chicken Naan Pizza – frozen naan is a great blank slate to top with bbq sauce, chicken, onions and cheese. Cook according to the instructions on the bag. If cheese is not sufficiently melted, place under broiler until cheese is melted to taste. This is a quick ten minute meal from start to finish with the prep you did earlier. It’s also a safe and easy recipe for little kitchen helpers.