Hack: Shredded chicken for quick, easy, healthy meals

Posted on February 21, 2010

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I’m busy. You’re busy. I’m cheap. You’re cheap. And sandwich meat is kind of gross tasting.

My hack? Shredded chicken. It’s cheaper, yummier, quicker, healthier, and even more versatile than sandwich meat. Here’s what you do:

  • I buy pre-frozen chicken breasts in 4lb bags from Meijers on sale for $6.99. Usually its $9.99, but I wait until it’s gone on sale and stock up. This works out to $1.75 a pound. This is cheaper than almost any sandwich meat you can get, except for balogna. Ick.
  • Now boil the chicken. In a pot. With water. While it’s still frozen. Does it make it tough? A little bit. Here’s a trick for more tender chicken; put it in a slow cooker (crock pot) with water. Cook on high for about 4 hours. But the rest of us are going to have slightly tough chicken because we’re lazier than you.
  • Chop up the chicken with a knife or shred by hand. Store in fridge in tupperware. I usually do 2-3 breasts at a time.

Ok, so what the hell do we do with this shredded chicken? There are a billion, quick, easy things to do if you need to make a lunch or dinner in an instant. Meals that stay or go:

  • Caesar salad. Buy those pre-packaged romaine hearts from the grocery store. Slice the romaine

    shredded chickn

    All hail the pre-shredded chicken.

    heart, top down, until you have lots of lettuce. If you’re finicky, throw it all into a colander and rinse it out. Put the chicken on top, and dump on some pre-made Caesar dressing. Is this to go? Invest in some small reusable plastic containers that are the perfect size for storing dressing. I got 8 for $1 at the Dollar Tree.

  • Chicken salad sandwich. In a smaller container, dump some shredded chicken and squeeze some mayo on top (Yes, I recommend squeezable mayo for speed; Kraft’s olive oil mayo has a nice squeeze top and is mildly healthier.) Mix it all together, add some optional sliced almonds, slap it in between two slices of bread, and go! Add a piece of lettuce for extra greenery, if you like.
  • Burrito. Beware, this requires a stove! In a small pan, add a little oil and chili powder, heat, and then mix in the shredded chicken. I think you can handle it from here; use canned refried beans, canned black beans, pre-made salsa, leftover rice from the fridge, sour cream, pre-shredded cheese, lettuce you didn’t use from the Caesar salad, tomato, or whatever else is hanging around in your fridge, wrap it up in a flour tortilla, and go! If you’re going to be traveling with these, I recommend wrapping the finished product in tin foil to keep it together.
  • Chicken rice. Laboriously pull out one of those boxes of flavored rice.  Add the rice mixture, amount of water as specified by box, and about one breast’s worth of shredded chicken into a rice cooker.  Press the “on” button for the rice cooker.  Wait.  For me, this usually singes the bottom a teeny tiny bit, but this is done on purpose in some Korean and Portuguese cooking.  You can always not eat it.
  • Quesadilla. You can certainly also take these with you, but I think melted cheese gets rubbery and gross when cold. But some people like it. Speaking of cheese, I recommend the pre-shredded variety. Check the weights of the cheese at the store, and you’ll find that most pre-shredded cheese costs the same, ounce-per-ounce, as the block cheese. Anyway, in a non-stick pan, on medium low heat, toss in a corn tortilla. Add a small amount of shredded cheese, and then add chicken and the tortilla on top. After a few minutes, flip the whole thing over. Yum!

I’m sure you can think of a lot more to do with this stuff, too. It’s been a total lifesaver for me to always have a container of shredded chicken in the fridge. Delish!

Burrito in progress

Nearly-complete quesadilla

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Posted in: Hacks, Recipes