How to set up a DIY Chicken Toast Bar

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.

May Long Weekend is just around the corner.  You may be one of the lucky ones who scored a campsite for this unofficial start of summer or you may be heading to a family cottage to open up for the season.  You might also be staying home, enjoying the comfort of your own backyard like I am. Wherever you choose to celebrate the long weekend, this DIY Chicken Toast Bar featuring three toast recipes from Manitoba Chicken Producers is a great option for a lunch or a snack.

The basics

To set up this toast bar, all you need is shredded chicken, toasted baguette slices and a few fresh toppings.  Here are three toast recipes that you can make:

You may have seen these recipes featured on Great Tastes of Manitoba Season 31, Episode 6- Toast to MB Chicken. If not, you can watch it here to see how they’re made.

Setting up your Toast Bar

Here are some recommended ingredients for your toast bar:

  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Chicken (roasted, shredded, sliced or chicken fingers)
  • Two spreads
    • Hummus
    • Pesto
    • Olive tapenade
    • Baba ghanoush
  • One or two soft cheeses
    • Ricotta
    • Brie
    • Fresh mozzarella
    • Goat cheese
  • Two to three fresh toppings
    • Tomatoes (fresh or roasted)
    • Greens (arugula, cilantro, dill, sprouts)
    • Avocado
    • Roasted red peppers
  • Finishing touches
    • Fruit preserves or jam
    • Balsamic reduction
    • Capers
    • Pine nuts
    • Dried fruit (blueberries, apricots, cranberries)

Meal Prep Tips for your DIY Toast Bar

You can set up your toast bar to be as simple or elaborate as you want.  Most of the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time, to make this a quick and easy snack or lunch, perfect for a day of yard work, camping or sitting on the dock.

Here are some steps that you can take to prep your toast bar ahead of time:

  • Slice the baguette (toast it just before serving for maximum crispness)
  • Cook and shred or slice the chicken
  • Make hummus
  • Roast tomatoes
  • Other fresh toppings need minimal prep, like fresh arugula or herbs, tomatoes, avocado & capers

Store-Bought Shortcuts for your DIY Toast Bar

Store-bought ingredients

If you’re looking for maximum time-savings, here are some store-bought shortcuts that you can try:

  • Rotisserie chicken from the deli
  • Chicken fingers
  • Crostini rounds (find them in the cracker aisle)
  • Store-bought hummus (try a few flavors)
  • Guacamole
  • Oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • Olive tapenade
  • Capers
  • Flavored goat cheese spread

What to do with the leftovers?

What happens if you finish off the baguette and you have a bunch of toppings leftover?

This is why this is the perfect weekend meal.  The ingredients are so versatile that you can pack everything you need for the toast bar and have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Show us your toast bars! Tag @manitobachicken and @toobusylivin204 so we can see which ingredients you chose!

How to meal plan, prep and pack for camping

When we go camping or out to the lake, our biggest obstacles are usually how to keep the food cold (cooler space and/fridge space) and how to pack enough food in one cooler to last the weekend. These obstacles are easy to overcome if you plan and prep before you go.

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Maximize cooler space

I mentioned in How to pack efficiently for your weekend getaways, one of my favorite food packing tips. Freeze everything you possibly can, so it can act as an ice pack and save valuable real estate in your cooler. Another way to maximize cooler space is to bring smaller containers of larger items like condiments. Do you really need a whole bottle of Ketchup for one weekend? Not likely. Using small mason jars or reusable containers will help you save space.

Minimize ingredients

It’s easy to save space when you bring less stuff. My best tip for reducing the number of ingredients to pack, is to try to use them in more than one way. For example, you can use naan for Breakfast Pizza, then use it again for Greek Chicken Wraps for lunch or dinner. When planning your menu, start with one meal, then see what ingredients you can use in the next.

Prep before you pack

There are very few disadvantages to prepping before you pack. You will save on cooler space and you will save on cooking time when you’re camping. A general rule that I follow when packing a cooler is that anything that is frozen stays in the original packaging or in Ziploc bags (double up meat and liquids to avoid a mess in your cooler) and anything that is cut or pre-cooked goes in containers.

How to prep and pack meats

  • Smoked meats (hot dogs, bacon, farmer sausage, breakfast sausage) should stay in their original packaging and frozen to function as ice packs.
  • Whole cuts of meat (chicken breasts, steaks, fish, shrimp) should be portioned and sliced if necessary prior to cooking, then frozen in Ziploc bags to act as ice packs.
  • Ground meats can be frozen in Ziploc bags uncooked, or take it a step further and cook it (for example for tacos, pasta sauce or meatballs) then freeze it once it has been cooked.
  • Pre-made burger patties should be stored in containers so that they don’t get squished.

How to pack and prep fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the number one space hogs of the cooler. I remember going on an Outdoor Ed. hiking trip with some grade 11 and 12 students and one student actually packed a whole watermelon in his backpack! Totally unnecessary.

  • Large fruits like melons and pineapples have staying power if they’re cut in advance, so storing them in a container is sure to save you space and time.
  • Berries tend to spoil quicker if washed and cut ahead of time, so keep those in their original containers if you can, and wash and eat as needed.
  • Whole fruits like apples, oranges, peaches and bananas don’t need to take up valuable space in your cooler, so store them in a large storage bin with your non-perishables. This is a tip you’ve seen before in How to pack efficiently for your weekend getaways.
food packed in a storage bin
Using a large storage bin for non-perishables helps keep food from getting crushed. It also allows for easy access throughout the weekend and is convenient for storing in your vehicle to keep the bears away.

How to pack and prep non-perishables

As I just mentioned, it’s a good idea to store non-perishables in a large storage bin, to avoid squishing, crushing, and for easy access throughout the weekend.  Also great if you need to store food in your car to keep the bears out. Storing in a bin makes packing a breeze, because when you get home with your groceries for your trip, you can pack them directly in your bin.

Sample meal plan

I’ve included a PDF sample two-day meal plan here, if you want a detailed look at how I plan. It includes ingredients required, pre-pack prep instructions, on-site prep instructions, and additional considerations.