Keeping the family fed is one of the hardest, most time consuming chores of the week. For many of us, a simple solution is to grab take out (which gets expensive) or open a box of cereal (not the healthiest). Fortunately, with age comes wisdom and I’ve found a few that using leftover chicken recipes help me in my quest to serve my family relatively healthy meals without breaking the bank.
One of my secrets to keeping my family well fed during the week is to find ways to cook once and then use what I cooked for multiple meals. Since our family isn’t real keen on left-overs, I need to find different, yet incredibly easy, dishes to serve. Readers of my weekly menu probably roll their eyes when they see we’ll be eating Baked Chicken Breasts again. Here’s a little known secret to my madness of serving chicken breasts every week, I use these leftover chicken recipes to feed my family throughout the week.
Our current family season dictates that it’s tough for us to all actually sit down to eat together. Mike works nights. To get all the classes she needs, Belle is taking a couple of evening classes and Michael (who no longer lives at home) works a lot of nights as well so he rarely drops in for dinner any more. Although I cook about 3 – 4 meals per week, they are usually sitting in the fridge waiting for whomever to eat them. Not an ideal situation but it’s what my family needs right now.
The other little wrinkle in our eating habits is Mike usually eats smaller meals four times a day. So, although he will usually eat a small meal when he gets home from work, he also eats breakfast, a lunch and something easy he can carry into work for an early dinner.
On Sunday nights I usually cook up anywhere from 6 – 12 chicken breasts (I use the bone in kind) and sometimes a few chicken legs as well (Belle prefers dark meat). I’m usually shooting for our Sunday night meal to be Meal 1 (see below) and get as many of us at the table as I can get. After the first meal, I’ll stick the chicken in the fridge and let the family make their own meals using the leftover chicken recipes that I’ve shared below. Even though you could make all these meals in one week, we usually don’t. With the exception of Meal 1, the rest is usually part of the fend for yourself meals.
Leftover Chicken Recipes
Meal 1 – Baked Chicken breasts. The first night I make the chicken breasts we will usually eat them for dinner with a vegetable, bread and a starch. These are very easy to re-heat, and make a great left over meal.
Meal 2 – Caesar Salads. Mike is currently on a Caesar Salad kick right now so he will chop up about a half a breast to throw in a salad to eat before work. A basic salad consists of greens, croutons, parmesan cheese (we like the shaved stuff), chicken and Caesar dressing.
Meal 3 – Quesadillas. Belle loves quesadillas so having some cubed chicken breast in the fridge is a good way to get some protein in her (she’ll eat cheese only if I don’t have chicken available). This picture is a brie, pear and chicken quesadilla I like to make. However, Belle will usually just make a regular quesadilla with cheddar cheese, chicken and shell topped with salsa and sour cream.
Meal 4 – Chicken Salad Sandwiches. For his work snack, Mike likes taking pita sandwiches. He doesn’t get a regular lunch break so he is usually eating when it’s convenient. Having a chicken salad stuffed pita is something easy that he can throw in his backpack and eat when he gets time.
Meal 5 – I love, love, love the Hawaiian BBQ Pizza. However, sometimes baking a whole pizza can be a pain in the butt. On top of that, if Michael or my parents aren’t around there is no one else to eat it with me. My work around is to buy pre-made personal size pizza crusts (like Boboli) and use the cut up chicken in the fridge. It allows me to have my favorite pizza without making a full pizza.