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Cook for a Day, Eat for a Week: Chicken

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We all like convenience, but it’s tough to value it over having tasty, fresh food. Real convenience is having what you want to eat ready when it’s dinner time. Because of this, it can be helpful to cook for a day and eat for a week.

Our favorite tool for cooking in advance is the slow cooker. Use it to cook chicken breasts to prepare meals in advance. If you have frozen chicken, there’s no need for defrosting. Put the frozen chicken breasts into the slow cooker with some water, turn it to high and let them cook through, which takes about 4-5 hours. Then, remove the meat and discard the juices, allowing it to cool briefly before refrigerating.

The cooked chicken can be used to prepare meals—lunches and dinners—in advance. Some easy meals to make, or plan ahead, with cooked chicken include: Enchiladas, Cobb Salad, Pot Pie, Quick Cacciatore, Asian Chicken Noodle Salad, White Bean Chicken Chili, Thai Chicken Salad, and Chicken Pesto Panini.

In a couple hours you can have most of your meals for the week practically ready to roll, especially if you have helpers in the kitchen. Give these recipes a try to get you started:

Chicken and Vegetable Tortilla Soup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced

½ cup celery, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced finely

2 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups tomatoes, chopped (fresh or canned)

1 cup black beans, rinsed well

1 cup yellow corn

1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, celery, jalapeno and chicken; sauté 2 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and pepper; stir well. Add water, salt, broth, tomatoes, black beans, corn and crushed corn chips. Bring to a boil, then immediately cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Top with cilantro.

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients 1 (16 ounce) package fettuccine

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup light soy sauce

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons white sugar

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups chicken, cooked and cubed

½ cup green pepper, diced

½ cup red pepper, diced

½ cup broccoli

¼ cup water chestnuts, sliced

¼ cup peas

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1/3 cup green onion, chopped

¼ cup peanuts (optional)

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, and rinse under cold water until cool. Put cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add chicken, green pepper, red pepper, broccoli, water chestnuts, and peas. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger, and pepper. Pour dressing over pasta and vegetables and toss gently. Sprinkle with cilantro, green onion and peanuts.

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