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

Waldorf Salad with Creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette

This salad is the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and salty. The fresh tarragon adds a subtle licorice flavor to the vinaigrette that is creamy and dairy-free.

a bowl of green salad with creamy dressing on the side
Use any fresh greens, tart apples and sweet grapes for this salad.

Choosing your greens

This salad makes great use of fresh greens and herbs. I used a combination of green leaf lettuce and endive fresh from the garden for this one, but romaine, kale, and spring mix would also work well here.

Jump to Recipe

Tart & tangy

The dressing is quite tangy, so you really need the sweetness of the grapes and candied walnuts to balance out the flavors. I used a tart Granny Smith apple but a sweet red apple would be delicious in this salad too.

Variations and substitutions

If tarragon isn’t your thing, fresh dill or basil would be great in this salad as well. You could also substitute the apples and grapes for mandarin oranges or peaches. Instead of the walnuts, you could use pecans or almonds.

In a pinch, you could use white vinegar, but I love the added flavor of the apple cider vinegar to complement the fruit. A white wine vinegar would also pair well with these ingredients.

If you’re adding hard-boiled eggs or chicken to the salad, you can also serve it in a wrap or a pita for a substantial lunch option.

Other great salads

There are many delicious dressings you could whip up using basic pantry ingredients, like this Poppy Seed Dressing or these 5 salad dressings. The combinations are endless.

Another lunch option with several variations is this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three Ways, a spin-off of a recipe from manitobachicken.ca

Waldorf Salad w/Creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette

This salad is the perfect combination of sweet, tangy and salty.

Course Salad
Keyword creamy dressing, salad dressing, tarragon, waldorf
Prep Time 15 minutes
Author SL

Ingredients

Salad ingredients

  • mixed greens
  • diced apple
  • sliced celery
  • grapes
  • cold grilled or shredded chicken (optional)
  • hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Sweet & Salty Walnuts

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • sea salt

Creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon (or one tsp. dry tarragon) Can substitute tarragon for dill

Instructions

Salad

  1. Cook chicken and hard-boiled eggs, if using. (This can be done the day before.)

  2. Wash & chop salad ingredients.

Sweet & Salty Walnuts

  1. Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat until you start to smell them, tossing frequently.

  2. Sprinkle with sugar.

  3. Add water and toss until the water evaporates and the walnuts are coated.

  4. Pour walnuts onto a piece of parchment paper or a plate and sprinkle with sea salt while the walnuts are still sticky. Let cool.

Creamy Tarragon Dressing

  1. In the cup for an immersion blender, add all dressing ingredients.

  2. Blend. Dressing will be very thick.

Recipe Notes

This dressing makes about 1 1/2 cups.  Store in a mason jar for up to one week in the fridge. To extend the shelf life of the dressing, use dried herbs instead of fresh.