It’s Sunday. You sit down to plan out your meals for the week and your mind goes blank. I mean, completely blank. You have absolutely no idea what you’ve been eating for the last month and cannot recall a single recipe that sounds good. Ever happen to you?
If so, you, my friend, are in a recipe rut.
Aren’t those the worst?! It happens to me all the time. It was especially bad when I was a full-time working mom and needed to pack easy but satisfying lunches. While I love myself a delicious sandwich, they don’t usually refrigerate well and the thought of soggy bread makes me want to gag.
Enter: the store-bought rotisserie chicken.
I know what some people are thinking. You can roast a chicken at home, Ashleigh. It’s not that hard. Well, yes you can. But there’s something about the store-bought ones that are just sooooo good. I can’t explain it. Just trust me.
Plus, the convenience of the store-bought ones are completely underestimated, especially when working and mom-ing it full time.
(But I will acknowledge here that rotisserie chickens aren’t super cost-effective. So if your grocery budget is limited, feel free to buy a bunch of chicken breasts and bake them with a little seasoning, then follow the recipes below.)
Before I had my son, I’d often buy one rotisserie chicken a week for my work lunches. But for the two years after his birth, I would buy 2-3 a week. Let’s just say I couldn’t find the time to cook. This is also why my husband boycotted rotisserie chicken for a while. We may have relied on it a little too much. Ahem.
But I will never grow tired of rotisserie chicken. Some (my husband) might even call it an obsession. Tow-may-tow, tow-mah-tow.
Funny story, actually, one of my best friends texted me a few months ago and said, “I just bought a rotisserie chicken and thought of you!” This is solid proof that I’m changing lives one slow-roasted poultry at a time.
Before you go and judge me, let me introduce you to all the ways that I use a rotisserie chicken.
The first is the obvious way: slice off the breasts and hack off the legs and wings. You’ve got yourself dinner, if you pair it will some sides. We are fans of brown rice in this house. But you can do mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, homemade sweet potato fries, steamed or roasted veggies, etc.
The other way to prepare it is to shred the meat. The possibilities with tender, juicy shredded chicken (that you didn’t have to cook) is endless! Plus, I have quite a few food intolerances so a lot of these recipes are adaptable for people who can’t eat dairy/eggs/gluten/peanuts/almonds.
Here are some of my favorites:
1. Salad/Salad Wrap
Add shredded chicken to leafy vegetables of the green variety and either serve as a salad or stick the concoction inside a tortilla (regular or gluten-free, whichever you fancy). My favorite salad combos are romaine, spinach, and chicken with either strawberries and balsamic dressing or dried cranberries, green apples, and balsamic dressing. Adding pecans, walnuts, goat cheese, or some other cheese would definitely work as well!
2. Curried Chicken Salad
Toss chicken with some mayo, dried cranberries, a chopped Gala apple, a few dashes of curry powder, a little salt and pepper, and some chopped chives or scallions. Serve on either salad greens or as a sandwich. My adaptation is loosely based on this recipe by Saved by the Bell’s Kelly Kapowski . . . I mean, um, Tiffani Thiessen. Note: You can leave out the curry powder and keep this a more traditional chicken salad recipe.
3. Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad
Say that five times fast. HA! This one is great because I’ve eaten it both hot or cold, meaning it’s great for taking to the beach, picnic, or potluck where you may not have the ability to heat food up. Cook up some pasta (gluten-free or traditional, doesn’t matter) and drain. Make the easy, dairy-free, pine nut-free (yuck…pine nuts…not a fan) pesto sauce from this recipe or buy pre-made from the store. Mix pasta, pesto, and chicken together in a ratio that works for you. Add parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes if that’s your thing.
4. Chicken & Veggie Ranch Quesadillas
I got the idea for this here but with some substitutions. I use regular quesadillas for my husband and son and gluten-free/brown rice ones for myself. I mostly follow the ranch dip recipe in the link above but substitute vegan mayo and rice milk for the greek yogurt and dairy milk. Or you can use store-bought ranch dressing to make it easier! That’s what I do for husband’s version. And then saute the veggies and assemble as the recipe calls for. (Use dairy-free cheddar cheese or omit if you need to.)
5. Chicken Tacos
I’m a ground-beef-in-my-tacos kind of girl but if you like chicken tacos, go for it! Warm the shredded or diced chicken in a skillet over low heat and add your favorite taco seasoning or sauce. Serve in tortillas with your favorite taco toppings! (#Givemeallthegauc)
6. Burrito Bowl
Throw some cooked rice in a bowl (buy this frozen for convenience if you need to: it’s ready in 3 minutes) and add diced/shredded chicken, refried beans, pico de gallo or salsa, and a huge scoop of guacamole (again, I buy this pre-made at the store). Finish it with a squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro (unless you’re one of those people who think it tastes like soap . . . then don’t).
Bonus tip: once you take all the meat off the bones, you can use the bones to make homemade broth in your slow cooker. I have tried a bunch of recipes until I adapted it to what I prefer. So here it goes: throw the leftover bones from two rotisserie chickens into your slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with water until everything is covered and you’re about half an inch from the lip of the slow cooker. Add several cloves garlic (peeled but whole). Add two tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s brand). Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cook on low for about 10-12 hours. Once you strain out the bones, you can then use the broth to make this delicious chicken soup recipe . Holy yum!!!
So now you have no excuses when it comes to mixing up your lunch-time recipes. No excuses, you hear?!
Let me know in the comments below which recipe you’re going to try!