Back-to School Meal Prep: Shredded Chicken

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Back-to-School may look a little different this year, but what won’t change is the fact that we still need to eat dinner every night.

Prepping shredded chicken in a large batch and freezing it unseasoned is a quick and easy supper solution that can be transformed into a variety of meals.

Having some quick options for lunches and dinner can make the transition from summer vacation to back-to-school a little easier.

How to prepare shredded chicken

Fill your slow cooker with chicken thighs or breasts and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. When the chicken shreds easily with a fork, it’s ready. If you’re using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, add a small amount (1 cup or so) of vegetable or chicken broth to the crock pot for moist, tender chicken.

Food Safety Tip: Before you start shredding, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cooked chicken pieces should be cooked to a reading of 165 degrees Farenheight.

You can even shred large quantities of boneless, skinless chicken in your stand-mixer with the paddle attachment if you’re pressed for time.

Bone-in or boneless?

Preferred cuts of chicken for this method are boneless, skinless breasts or thighs because they shred easily, whereas bone-in varieties require a little more effort when shredding. The advantage to using bone-in varieties is that you can save the bones to make soup stock. Simply add them to the ingredients of this Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth and you’ll have 9 cups of chicken broth ready to use in soups and other recipes.

How to portion and freeze it

I like to either portion by cup or by piece, for example 2 cups or 2 breasts. Freezing in smaller portions allows you to take out as many bags as you need for a recipe, rather than freezing the whole batch in one bag and having too much.

It’s important to label your bags with the amount, cut and date.

Food Safety Tip: Store cooked chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days or 2-3 months in the freezer. Head to manitobachicken.ca for other helpful storage tips.

Why cook it unseasoned?

Cooking the chicken unseasoned, allows you to use it in a variety of recipes, depending on the other ingredients you have on hand and your mood. You could substitute the grilled chicken in this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three Ways with shredded chicken for lunch or dinner.

How to use the shredded chicken

Here are some delicious recipes from manitobachicken.ca that call for shredded chicken.

The Grilled Chicken Lime & Cheese Quesadillas are a quick weeknight meal with tons of flavor.
For the Char Sui Pulled Chicken, simply add the sauce ingredients to the shredded chicken and heat through. This would also work well as a lunch option the following day.
The Tropical Chicken Taquitos are a great addition to a supper snack board.

Take your meal prep one step further

If you have extra time to dedicate to your meal prep, prepare these recipes ahead of time. Then, freeze them so that you can simply heat and serve.

Food Safety Tip: Do not re-freeze cooked chicken that has already defrosted.

Freeze the quesadillas between two sheet pans to prevent the tortillas from curling. Store them in a freezer bag or large container.

For the taquitos, you can freeze them on a sheet pan first, then store them in a freezer bag or container.

For the Char Siu, combine the chicken with the sauce and store in a freezer bag. Reheat on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

Don’t forget to write the date and the name of the recipe on the bag!

A few more ideas

A few more simple ideas that use shredded chicken are:

  • On a pizza (try BBQ sauce, chicken, red peppers, mushrooms and cheddar cheese)
  • In a quesedilla (try pesto, chicken, sundried tomatoes & mozzarella)
  • In a sandwich (try adding 1/2 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix to 4 cups shredded chicken, 1/2 cup buffalo sauce and 2 Tbsp. butter. Heat through and serve over toasted buns.)

How will you use your shredded chicken? Tag us on Instagram and show us your creations @toobusylivin204 @mbchicken

Lemon Basil Chicken Burgers

Tips for Easy Outdoor Entertaining

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Lemon Basil Chicken Burgers are a great option for easy outdoor entertaining. Serve them with a side salad, chips or raw veggies to keep it simple.

Dining al fresco is a habit of ours. If the weather is nice, we eat outside every chance we get.  With recent COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions in place for indoor gatherings, you might be thinking of hosting family and friends outdoors.

Whether you’re having a weeknight family dinner, or you’re entertaining friends on the weekend, burgers made with ground Manitoba chicken are a versatile and nutritious option and are sure to be well-received. 

Getting Organized

As always, I’m a huge fan of planning ahead, even more so when I’m entertaining outdoors. There are a few steps you can take to get organized before your meal. 

  • Prepare your food
  • Assemble a tray for grilling
  • Prepare a tray for serving

Prepare your food

Manitobachicken.ca has a great Basic Chicken Burger recipe that can be adapted in many ways.  This recipe makes four burgers.  The base is:

  • 1 ½ lbs ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (use gluten-free panko to make these gluten-free)

The other ingredients listed in this recipe are for flavour, so feel free to follow the recipe as is or to customize it as you like, by adding different spices, toppings and using different styles of buns.  Today I’m sharing a Lemon Basil Chicken Burger, which is a variation of this. I’m doubling the recipe to freeze some of the mix as meatballs for another meal.

Meal prep tip: Double or triple the recipe and freeze half for another meal.  When freezing chicken burgers, freeze them on a sheet pan first, then store in a container or freezer bag so they don’t stick together.

You can also use your prep time to cut any toppings you’ll be using, prepare condiments, and slice the buns.

Assemble a tray for grilling

Here I made two regular sized burgers and four minis for the kids.

When you’re getting ready to grill, you’ll want to bring out a tray to keep everything organized.  I like to use a cookie sheet for this, so I can transfer the cooked food onto it once it’s grilled.  It’s important to bring out the raw burgers on a different tray or in a container to avoid cross-contamination.

Food safety tip: Always use separate utensils and trays for raw and cooked chicken.

This is what I like to put on our grilling tray:

  • Cookie sheet
  • Meat thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Oven mitt or potholder
  • BBQ sauce or any condiments going on the burgers while on the grill
  • Sides that also need to be grilled

Food safety tip:  The safe internal temperature of cooked ground chicken is 165ºF or 74ºC. Always use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Prepare a tray for serving

Use a tray to carry out plates, cutlery, toppings and sides. Prepare it in advance so that you can serve dinner quickly and spend time with your guests instead of in the kitchen.

Using a serving tray to carry items outside is helpful especially helpful for us, because one parent can supervise the kids, while the other is tending to the grill, keeping the curious little ones safe. Having the tray ready ahead of time allows us to run in and grab it when we’re ready to eat.

On the serving tray I like to include:

  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Utensils
  • Condiments
  • Side dishes

If you’re having a regular weeknight meal, the kids can help assemble the tray before your meal.  If you’re entertaining a crowd, your tray can be prepared ahead of time. 

We also keep a bin on the deck with some essentials that we always use outside. You can read more about in my How to Pack a Summer Deck Bin to Save Time blog post.

Lemon Basil Chicken Burgers

Course Main Course
Keyword basil, burger, chicken, lemon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 burgers

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs Can substitute with panko or crushed crackers
  • 1 zest of one lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Topping ideas

  • roasted garlic aioli
  • arugula or lettuce
  • tomato slices
  • tzatziki
  • bruchetta mix (diced tomatoes, balsamic, garlic, fresh basil)

Instructions

  1. Zest the lemon, grate the garlic and chop the basil.

  2. Combine ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, lemon, garlic and basil.

  3. Form mixture into 8 patties. For easy portioning, flatten mixture on a sheet pan and use a knife to divide in 8 sections.

  4. Once the patties are formed, use your thumb to make a dent in the centre of each patty. This helps the centre cook faster.

  5. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat.

  6. Grill patties with the lid closed for approximately 7-9 minutes per side.

  7. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. It should read 165 degrees F.

  8. Serve in toasted ciabatta buns with your favorite burger toppings.

Recipe makes 4 burgers and 24 meatballs.

If Lemon Basil isn’t your thing, try these other chicken burger variations from manitobachicken.ca

Thai Burgers with Spicy Sauce

Jamaican Burgers with Mango Chutney  

Share your variations with us by tagging @manitobachicken & @toobusylivin204 on Instagram!

Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three ways

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Something we all tend to struggle with now and again is trying to get out of a food rut.  Trying to find new ways to enjoy the foods we already love but eat way too often.  Keeping the same flavors you already enjoy, but changing the way they’re presented is an excellent way to add variety to your menu.

This Asian Grilled Chicken Salad recipe from Manitoba Chicken Producers is a great base for spinning off other recipes.  It serves 4-6 people, so you have the option of serving it family-style for dinner or splitting it up into containers for lunches. You could also make a smaller portion of the salad and use the remaining ingredients to make one of the three completely new meals that I’m sharing today. These three meals use all the same ingredients, along with a few extras:

  • Cashew Chicken Lettuce wraps
  • Asian Chicken Flatbread
  • Chicken Summer Rolls
Photo courtesy of Manitoba Chicken Producers

Why is this a good idea?

If you already have the ingredients on hand, you may as well use them to their full potential. This prevents food waste and allows for flexibility and variety on your menu.  Once you have already purchased some of these ingredients, for example the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and sweet chili sauce, you’re going to have more than enough to use in a few more meals, so you’re going to want some ideas to mix it up a bit. Also, if you make one of these recipes for dinner, you may want to use up the remaining ingredients to make a few lunches for the rest of the week.

Prep strategies

If your life is busy like mine is, you’re going to want to save every minute you can in the kitchen, so you can have more time for relaxing and spending time with your family.  There are many ways you can save time executing this dish. Here are a few:

  • Batch cook your chicken
    • If you plan on using these ingredients in the same week in different ways, grill up all your chicken at the same time.  Slice it up and it’s ready to go for the salad, the summer roll, the flatbread and the lettuce wraps. If it isn’t a nice day, baking the chicken works just fine. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. This chart will help you ensure your chicken is perfectly cooked.
  • Chop all your veggies at the same time
    • This will be especially helpful if you plan on using them in more than one meal in the same week.
  • Double the sauce, as needed.
    • Depending on which of the four recipes you will be making, double up the sauce if necessary. This will save you from having to make a second batch later.

Did you know that you should only store cooked chicken for three to four days in the fridge?

This guide is helpful for storing all cuts of chicken in your fridge and freezer.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I used romaine hearts for these because I love the crunch, but you could definitely use any larger leaf lettuce that could contain the filling. If you don’t have cashews, peanuts would be an excellent substitution.

Jump to Recipe

Asian Chicken Flatbread

chicken flatbread

This recipe is basically a salad on a pizza, minus the cheese. You will be topping it with the ingredients that can be served warm before popping it in the oven, then dressing it with a “salad” of julienned veggies, herbs and a squeeze of lime, once it comes out of the oven.

Jump to Recipe

Chicken Summer Rolls

These Chicken Summer Rolls make a great lunch or appetizer. They are a bit more time-consuming to prepare than the other recipes, so you’ve been warned! You can use any amount of the sliced veggies for these rolls and you don’t really have to measure, which I love. If you don’t have some of the listed vegetables on hand, you could also try avocado and cucumber as substitutes.

These rolls tend to stick together when stored in the fridge, so it’s a good idea to either individually wrap them in plastic wrap, or a greener option is to place a lettuce or cabbage leaf between each roll when storing them in a container.

Jump to Recipe

Chicken is versatile and nutritious

Chicken is an excellent ingredient for deconstructing and reconstructing because it is so versatile. If you’re looking for other ways to reconstruct and make the most out of the ingredients you buy, check out this post called Greek Chicken – Three Ways or head to manitobachicken.ca for more recipes using Manitoba chicken so you can try some reconstructing on your own!

Share your creations with us by tagging @toobusylivin204 and @manitobachicken on Instagram.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These fresh lettuce wraps make a great lunch or dinner.

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword chicken, lettuce wrap
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author SL

Ingredients

  • 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup baby corn, sliced in circles
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 romaine hearts
  • 1 lime

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Grill or pan fry chicken breasts until thermometer reads 170F (about 5-7 minutes per side).

  2. While chicken is cooling, chop the corn, red pepper, mint and cilantro.

  3. Wash and dry romaine leaves, keeping them whole.

  4. Combine sauce ingredients and stir.

  5. Chop chicken.

  6. Heat chicken, red pepper and corn in the frying pan until warm, about 3 minutes.

  7. Add sauce and stir until combined and heated through.

  8. Transfer to a bowl and top with a squeeze of lime, mint, cilantro and cashews.

  9. Serve in romaine leaves.

Asian Chicken Flatbread

A fresh take on a pizza, this flatbread makes a great lunch for one or cut it in triangles for an easy appetizer.

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword asian, chicken, flatbread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 flatbread

Ingredients

  • 1 naan
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken , sliced
  • 1/4 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup snow peas, julienned
  • 1/4 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1/4 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Grill or pan fry chicken breasts until thermometer reads 170F (about 5-7 minutes per side).

  2. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes, then slice thinly.

  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

  4. Combine sauce ingredients and spread on pizza.

  5. Top with sliced chicken and red pepper.

  6. Place in the oven until heated through and crust is lightly browned. (About 5-7 minutes. )

  7. Remove from oven and top with snow peas, carrots, cashews, mint and cilantro.

  8. Finish with a squeeze of lime.

Chicken Summer Rolls

These Chicken Summer Rolls make a great appetizer or lunch and pack a lot of flavor.

Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword chicken, rice paper, summer roll
Servings 6 rolls
Author SL

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, cooked
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned
  • 6 baby corn cobs, julienned
  • 1 handful snow peas, julienned
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups thin rice noodles, cooked
  • 6 rice paper wraps

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime, juiced

Instructions

  1. Grill or pan fry chicken breasts until thermometer reads 170F (about 5-7 minutes per side). Set aside to cool.

  2. Cook noodles according to package directions and run under cold water to cool. Set aside.

  3. Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.

  4. Julienne all veggies.

  5. Wash and dry mint and cilantro leaves.

  6. In a bowl of warm water, soak one rice paper wrap at a time, gently moving around until pliable. It should not feel stiff.

  7. Spread out the wrap on a cutting board. As you're working on your first roll, place another wrap in the water to soak, so it is ready to go when you have finished making your roll.

  8. Layer fillings in the following order: mint leaves, 1/4 cup noodles, julienned veggies (small handful), 3 slices of chicken, cilantro.

  9. You don't want to overfill the wraps. It's good to make a test roll, to assess how much filling will fit in your wrap.

  10. Fold over the left and right sides of the wrap, holding in the filling.

  11. Start at the top or bottom end, and continue rolling, tucking the filling into the wrap, like you would a burrito.

  12. Dip in sauce to serve.

Recipe Notes

If you’re making this for several people, you may choose to make extra sauce, so that everyone has their own bowl for dipping.  

When storing prepared summer rolls in the fridge, individually wrap them in plastic wrap, or separate them with a lettuce or cabbage leaf in a container to prevent them from sticking together. 

Other julienned vegetables can be used here such as cucumber, avocado, snap peas, and green onion.