How to prep chicken for quick meals featuring One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki

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.

It’s no secret that I make chicken ALL. THE. TIME. It is a protein that the whole family loves and no matter what cut you use, it’s versatile and easy to prepare. I use a few simple prep strategies that can help get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.

Last year, I talked about how to cook, portion and shred chicken for quick meals. Today I’m showing you how to portion and prep a family pack of chicken breasts. 

We don’t realize how much time we spend taking out ingredients and doing dishes when we prep meals. 

Meal Prep Tip: To save time, it’s best to tackle as much prep as you can in one session. This is especially helpful when prepping on the weekend for busy weeknights. 

60-Second Meals

Manitobachicken.ca has some great 60-Second Meal Videos that show you step-by-step how to make each recipe.  This week I’m trying the One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki.  I prepped my chicken as soon as I brought it home from the store. 

Meal Prep Tip: Slice, portion and freeze boneless skinless chicken breasts as soon as you bring them home from the store.

I had a family pack of 11 chicken breasts.  I divided them and sliced them in three different ways:

  • Three chicken breasts, sliced in medium pieces for the One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki
  • Four chicken breasts, sliced in strips for Chicken Strips
  • Four chicken breasts, sliced thinly for a sheet pan or stir-fry (portioned in two bags)

That makes four meals that are ready to cook.

Meal Prep Tip: You can even go one step further and marinate the chicken before you freeze it.  Depending on your recipe, you can also marinate whole chicken breasts. 

Before you freeze the chicken, flatten the bags as much as you can.  They will stack neatly in your freezer and will also take less time to defrost. 

Food Safety Tip: The best way to defrost frozen chicken in overnight in the fridge. Never thaw chicken at room temperature on the counter, as it may promote bacteria growth.  Thawed chicken should be cooked within 48 hours.  

Check out the Storing Chicken section on manitobachicken.ca for a chart on safe thawing methods, as well as other food safety tips.

How to cook One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki

There are two ways that you can cook the One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki, depending on how much time you have. 

If you are pressed for time, cook it in the skillet, as directed in the 60 Second Meal Video.

If you are not pressed for time, but you have other tasks you want to do while you wait for it to be ready, you can bake it on a sheet pan at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.

Food Safety Tip: Always use a thermometer to check if your chicken is ready. Cooked chicken breast should read 165°F on a digital thermometer when inserted into the thickest part of the breast meat.

How to serve One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki

There are a variety of ways you can serve One-Pan Chicken Souvlaki.  I like to set out all the components and let everyone decide how they want to eat it.  Deconstructing is a great strategy to use for picky eaters or for people who have dietary restrictions.  Everyone can serve themselves the components they would like to have.  I talk more about deconstructing in this blog post.

Here are some of the components that you could put out on the table for serving:

  • Warmed naan, pitas or mini pitas
  • Chunky Greek Salad
  • Tzatziki
  • Hummus
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive tapenade
  • Tabouleh
  • Lemon roasted potatoes
  • Rice

My partner likes his as a wrap in naan with all the fixings. I like mine deconstructed, using the tzatziki and hummus as a dip for the chicken and the naan.  The kids will most likely just have chicken, naan, lettuce, and tomatoes, all separate and not touching on the plate! If we have leftovers to take for lunch, a great side is a tabouleh salad, made with bulgur, fresh herbs, lemon juice, olive oil and tomatoes, as this can be made and dressed ahead of time.

This meal is so versatile that you can try it over and over it again with different sides.   Head to manitobachicken.ca to check out the 60-second video, as well as more 60-second meal ideas!

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.

Jump to Recipe

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!