One way in which to save time during the week is by planning a menu that includes foods that are nutritious, quick to prepare, and that lends themselves to easy leftover meals.
As I stated in a recent post, I am a kitchen nut. I love to plan menus, clip coupons, and try new recipes. While I don´t have a lot of extra time to try fancy dishes that require hours of stirring and baking, I will test out new treats that are easy to make and require ingredients that are normally found in my cabinets or that are easy to locate in the local grocery store.
When I plan a menu, I plan dishes that use the same type of ingredients so that I´m not buying a bulk amount of an item that will then go to waste. For instance, I cook a lot with low sodium chicken broth. I use half of a can for roasted chicken and then I use the other half in a casserole or for homemade soup broth later in the week. If I´m making broccoli stir fry, I then make another broccoli dish within the week so that all of the vegetable is used. Once you have accumulated recipes for a variety of dishes that you fix on a regular basis, this part of the planning becomes easier, and in the long run it will save you both time and money.
Today I´ll share a roasted chicken recipe that is easy to fix on a weekend afternoon and that can then offer great leftover meals (some recipes included) during the week. I stock up on roasted chickens when they are on sale for less than $1 per pound, so that we pay about $2.50 per chicken, which makes 2 meals for a 3-person family.
Clean out the insides and rinse the bird. Place breast up on a roasting rack. Put several small slabs of butter along the breast. Do not cover. Bake on 325 degrees for approximately 2 hours, sometimes less depending on the size of the bird. (Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature). Every half hour, pour a small amount of broth over the top. If the bird begins to get too brown on the outside, cover with aluminum foil (I never have to do this at this temperature and amount of time). You can use seasonings on the bird as well, such as lemon pepper or barbecue, while the chicken is cooking.
In a separate pot, cook carrots and potatoes (cut up into small chunks) in a mixture of the remaining broth and water for approximately half an hour. Top with some butter and serve alongside the chicken.
I use the leftovers for recipes that require cooked chicken, like the following:
Use jarred enchilada sauce for a quick meal. Dip tortilla shells into a small amount of the heated sauce and then stuff with cheese, chicken, and whatever else you might like (chilies, onions). Pour a little sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof bowl and then place enchiladas on top of the sauce, rolled with seams facing down. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until heated through.
Place cooked noodles, chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup, and cooked peas in an ovenproof dish. Bake covered for half an hour at 350 degrees. Top with cheese, bake another five to ten minutes or until cheese has melted and dinner is heated through.
Hot Open-Faced Chicken Sandwiches
Heat chicken and gravy. Place on bread. Serve with vegetables, cranberry sauce, and fries.
Use chicken broth and water as a base. Put in the vegetables you like, and either noodles or rice as a starch. Add chicken when vegetables are almost done.
Chicken A la King: http://chicken.allrecipes.com/az/syLKingBiscitCssrl.asp (I use toast instead of biscuits, but either one works).
Below are several websites that feature quick and easy recipes. I have used each one of these, but I have to be honest: I don´t have a lot of time to do menu planning online, and the only time I use an online recipe is when I am looking for one particular recipe that I can´t find in my cookbooks or magazines. I prefer to use a cookbook or magazine for recipes because I can read through them while in the bathtub or watching television. But these sites do have great ideas; so if you have a few minutes, check them out.