Winner, Winner, 4 Ways to Chicken Dinner

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
"What's for dinner?" It seems like an easy enough question, but when it's asked 365 times a year, the answers may start to become a bit repetitive—or downright dull. Between work, school and activities, coming up with fresh meal ideas on the daily is a tall order. But with a little creativity and planning, you can prep just once and get four meals out of it.

How can you possibly get four meals out of one night of prepping, you ask? Well, you can either host a food prep party, or simplify the meals for just your own family, thinking one week at a time.
We asked Larry Misleh*, owner and chef of the Madison Diner and chef at The Oak Tavern, what recipes he would suggest that could feed four in four meals. He chose chicken for this example, mainly because it's one of the most popular, versatile and affordable meats. Whether you're already a whiz in the kitchen or can't remember the last time you turned on your oven, you can turn three chickens into four delicious, nutritious meals that will save you time and money.
Stock up on the below ingredients, spend a couple of hours prepping, and you'll have a ready answer next time your family asks that inevitable daily question.
What You'll Need:
  • 3 large whole chickens (approximately 3-4 pounds each; weight varies)
  • 1 5-lb. bag of carrots
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 1 stalk celery (less one rib)
  • 8 large russet potatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chicken base (concentrated chicken stock, 3.5 oz. container)
  • 1 whole grain wheat baguette
  • 2 bunches broccoli (trim off florets and trim and cut stems, discard stem trimmings)
  • Small jar tahini (16 oz.)
  • 1 container mixed salad greens (5 oz.)
  • Small bag almond slivers (6 oz.)
  • 1 bag quinoa (16 oz.)
  • 1 bag brown rice (16 oz.)
  • 1 container fat-free, Greek-style yogurt (7 oz.)
  • Small red onion
  • Dry basil
  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 limes
  • Cumin, ground
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 roasting pans with lids
Prep Work:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Spray three separate roasting pans (lidded) with cooking spray
  • Place one chicken in each roasting pan, breast side up
  • Sprinkle the three chickens with salt and pepper
  • Peel yellow onions and chop into 1-inch pieces
  • Rinse celery and chop into 1-inch pieces
  • Peel carrots and chop into 1-inch pieces
  • Peel potatoes; leave whole
  • Divide ingredients evenly into pans
  • Add 1 cup water to each pan
  • Cover and cook for 2-1/2 hours
  • Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes
  • Remove pans from oven and move to range top
  • Remove chicken and potatoes; place on separate plate
  • Add 1 cup water to each pan and deglaze on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, scraping bits from bottom of pan with spatula to create the chicken broth
  • Let cool and put broth and veggies from all three pans into large container; refrigerate for later use
  • Remove meat from two of the chickens (separately); refrigerate for later use
  • Save the meat from the third chicken for your first meal
  • Discard all bones
Meal #1: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Steamed Broccoli

For this meal, you’ll eat the meat from one chicken (put on a serving platter) and a third of the potatoes. For a side, steam the two bunches of broccoli on the stovetop for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Meal #2: Chicken Soup with Brown Rice and Whole-Wheat Baguette
  • Remove chicken broth from refrigerator; pull off layer of fat from top of broth and discard
  • Put broth vegetables (stored earier) in stockpot (a pot in which stock for soup is prepared by long, slow cooking)
  • Add an additional 5 cups of water to the stockpot
  • Bring to a boil; simmer 30 minutes
  • Add 1 cup brown rice; simmer 20 minutes
  • Cut up the meat of 1 roasted chicken into bite-size pieces; add to pot
  • Add 2 tablespoons chicken base
  • Simmer 10 minutes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat baguette can be sliced and toasted

Meal #3: Chicken and Mixed Greens Salad with Tahini Dressing

Prepare salad greens:

  • Chop meat from half of the remaining chicken
  • Rinse mixed greens and pat dry with paper towels
  • Add other raw vegetables as desired (optional)
Prepare Tahini dressing:

  • Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • Add 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Add 3 tablespoons tahini
  • Add 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Add a pinch of cumin
  • Toast 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds until slightly browned and add to dressing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix all ingredients in bowl and serve over chicken and greens

Meal #4: Chicken Salad and Quinoa

  • Chop up remaining chicken half
  • Add ½ cup Greek yogurt (more or less as desired)
  • Toast ½ cup sliced almonds in dry frying pan until just brown; remove immediately and add to chicken
  • Add 1 teaspoon basil
  • Peel red onion and slice into thin half moons; add ½ cup onion to chicken
  • Thinly slice 1 rib of leftover celery and add to chicken
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Prepare 2 cups of quinoa according to package instructions for a side dish

*Professional chef Larry Misleh is brother to Elizabeth, one of SparkPeople’s editors.

What's your favorite way to serve chicken? Share your ideas and recipes below.