Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chicken for one

Making the most out of a main dish may be easy for those of us with larger families, but when you're the head of household (and the only head), cooking conservatively gets a little more challenging.

It's all too tempting to just eat out or rely on frozen or pre-prepared meals, which are costly and generate a lot of waste. Even if you have great intentions, when you're cooking for one, it's challenging to use up everything you've purchased for the week.

This morning, my brother, a computer programmer who's never before worried about his wallet, confessed to me that he's stumped about how we can cut back on his eating expenses. He's given up routine meals out but isn't sure how to make cooking dinner efficient for a person whose definition of cooking is "putting dead meat in a pan." And, he said, it's challenging to finish up what he purchases before it goes bad.

We had a short talk about what he likes, doesn't like and is scared to cook. In the end, we decided he wouldn't be too chicken to cook with chicken.

His meal base? A rotisserie chicken from the grocery. Nothing fancy, and it conserves the heat that would go to roasting a chicken on his own. As we're able to stretch a rotiserrie chicken to three or four meals, I figure he could be set for a week.

Meal 1: Enjoy hot rotisserie chicken with sides of his choice.

Fast meals with leftover chicken can include:
  • Chicken fried rice. (Stir-fry with cooked rice, a bit of peanut oil, soy sauce and desired veggies. We use green onions liberally.)
  • Chicken tacos or quesadillas. (If you buy the flour tortillas, you get soft tacos and quesadillas out of your effort.)
  • Sandwiches - hot or cold. Fix how you like.
  • Hot chicken sandwiches. My mother used to rely on leftovers with a can of cream of mushroom soup with leftover chicken, pork or steak, served over bread. Not fancy, but it was always cleaned up.
  • A casserole or simple rice or pasta dish with leftover chicken tossed in. (Not comfortable with cooking? Simply stretch out one of those boxed rice side dishes with meat or veggies.)
  • Chicken Caesar salad (or other salad of your choice.)

Getting tired of poultry? Is it approaching day four in the fridge? Just shred the leftovers and toss it into the freezer for future use on a lazy day.

Yes, they're not fancy meals, and probably something you've already considered. But keep in mind that at 7 at night, fast makes sense.


Anonymous said...

I have some leftover chicken in the fridge and I am going to try one of these recipes tonight! Thank you!

bhelenj said...

I take a package of Lipton Beef Noodles. Add sliced leftover steak (small amounts work). I also add sliced green onions. Cooks as package directs. Add sliced almonds and serve. Serves 2.