Tips for Cooking Ahead Using Chicken

April 17, 2015 Classic Cooking

Cooking ahead can be a great way to make sure you and your family enjoy nourishing, homemade dinners during the week without relying on takeout. And I've discovered one of the best foods to prep in advance — chicken!

Below are some of my favorite tips for cooking ahead with this versatile, delicious protein.

*Tip: If this article inspires you to learn more about prepping meals in advance, take a look at our story on bulk cooking.

I've discovered one of the best foods to prep in advance—chicken!

Use grocery store rotisserie chickens. These are fantastic. Depending on the store, you can choose between plain, barbecue, lemon-pepper and other varieties, and they're often less expensive than roasting a bird yourself. Since a chicken takes up so much room in the refrigerator, I pull all the meat off one and stick it in a Ziploc bag for whatever recipe I'm going to use it with, like these spicy fajitas. Using rotisserie chicken makes it easy and quick.

Cook extra chicken breasts. If I'm making chicken breasts for one meal, I'll often cook a few extra — it doesn't take any additional work, and they're ready for the next meal. This Mexican-inspired skillet recipe, with chicken, veggies and beans, takes just over half an hour to prepare. Using precooked chicken cuts the time down even more.

Use shredded chicken in wraps. Poach a few chicken breasts one night when you have a little extra time, let them cool and shred them. You can layer on flavor with other ingredients to make delicious wrap sandwiches for the week. I enjoy these Greek-inspired wraps because I love olives and feta cheese. Use your imagination!

Think stir-fries. If you know you want to make a stir-fry, prepare things ahead of time: chop your vegetables, chop and sauté your chicken, and pop them in separate plastic bags or containers. Then, when you'd like to eat your dish, just add sauces and seasonings, and heat it up. Try this unique stir-fry, which includes peppers, onions, chicken and savory canned beans.

You don't need to spend tons of time cooking ahead. By adding just a couple of steps to something you're already making, and by using an adaptable main ingredient like chicken, you can reduce stress during the hectic weeknight rush.

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

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