The hardest part of cooking dinner is coming up with what to cook for dinner. I tell my family, “Just tell me what you want to eat, and I’ll cook it.” At the end of the day I’m tired, standing in front of a pantry full of ingredients, and no clue of what to cook.
A few years ago I started meal planning and meal prepping. Knowing ahead of time what’s for dinner, and knowing that I have all of the ingredients ready to go makes cooking SO much easier.
So each week, I’ll plan our Monday through Friday meals. If there are any shortcuts I can do ahead of time to cut down on cooking time or expenses, then I will plan those out, too. So here’s our meal plan for this week. (above) Two of the meals (Monday and Tuesday) are chicken dishes, and I thought I’d show you how I save money and time on chicken dishes. And here’s my secret…Costco Rotisserie Chickens.
Costco rotisserie chickens are much bigger than the average grocery store rotisserie chicken. I don’t substitute a grocery store rotisserie chicken, because it doesn’t give the same amount of meat, and they’re more expensive. Costco rotisserie chickens are $4.99. They aren’t priced per pound; it’s simply $4.99. So when you are buying them, buy the biggest ones they have set out. I love them because they’re cheap AND they’re already cooked.
After I bring them home, I immediately take all of the chicken off of the bones and put it into freezer bags. Depending on what meals I have planned and how much meat is on the chicken, I usually divide it into one or two pounds in each bag. And next, unless I am cooking with it that very same day, I put it into the freezer. Trust me on this – If you aren’t cooking with it that day – put it into the freezer. Think of all those bags of spinach and salads you throw away. The same thing will happen with meat. Life happens and plans change. When you are ready to use it, just put it in the mircrowave on the defrost setting. You can finish warming it up in a pan or in the oven.
We use this in a lot of ways. Sometimes I do leave some in the fridge for lunches. We use it for salads, soups, chilis, wraps, and much more. This week I am using this chicken for a chicken, broccoli, rice casserole and chicken enchiladas. Since both of those meals will also use rice, I cooked rice ahead of time, too. HERE is the link for the chicken/broccoli/rice casserole. And HERE is the link for the chicken enchilada recipe I use. I make the chicken/broccoli/rice casserole gluten free by using Pacific Foods brand cream of chicken condensed soup, and I top it with 4C brand gluten free seasoned bread crumbs. I also don’t use Minute Rice – I precook rice for the week. To save the most amount of time with the chicken/broccoli/rice casserole, prepare it completely ahead of time and put it the fridge. Put it into the oven when you’re ready to eat it.
I’ll talk about it more in another blog post, but I do all of our meal prep Sunday evening or Monday. I do our grocery shopping on Thursdays or Fridays. We try our very hardest to reserve Saturdays and Sundays as days of rest.