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!

Crispy Parmesan Chicken Strips – Cooking with kids

This is part two of a two-part series and a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products that I use and love.

If you caught part one of last month’s Cooking with Kids post, we made Bruschetta chicken from the new Now You’re Cooking with Manitoba Chicken Youth Education Booklet.  Although my daughter had fun making that recipe, her request when we were done was to “just make chicken strips next time.” So that’s exactly what we did.

We made the Crispy Parmesan Chicken Strips, also from the Now You’re Cooking with Manitoba Chicken Youth Education Booklet.  The recipe comes together quickly (even quicker if you apply some meal prep strategies that I will fill you in on.) and is super simple for the kids to help with.

If you’re interested in receiving your own copy of this brand-new resource, contact Manitoba Chicken Producers at: consumerrelations@chicken.mb.ca Please provide your name and mailing address and they will be happy to send you one.

I knew that convincing my little helper to eat the chicken strips wasn’t going to be a challenge, so we focused on working together, learning and having fun.  I did however run into a few obstacles when she realized that we weren’t making “the ones we usually have.”

Tip 1: Use cooking with your kids as an opportunity to learn and develop skills

We started by reading the recipe.  What better way to develop reading skills than with an authentic situation where they can apply their reading strategies?  It went something like this:

“Preheat oven to 425 F…What’s F?” Cue an additional learning opportunity that we applied later when we checked the temperature of the cooked chicken strips using our meat thermometer.

Food safety tip: The internal temperature of cooked chicken should read 165°F.

“1/2 cup mayo…Ewww I hate mayo!”  But guess what? The mayo is the best part of this recipe, because it does two things: 1) Allows the breading to stick to the chicken, 2) Crisps up the chicken strips without any additional oil or butter.  I took the opportunity to explain that mayo is made with eggs, and since we usually use eggs for chicken fingers, this time we are going to try eggs in a different way. She was sold and we moved on.

Tip 2: Teach about food safety

Before we got started, we washed our hands and talked about why that is important.  We also talked about how poultry and other meat can make you sick if it isn’t cooked so that we shouldn’t, for example, sample the breading while we’re making the chicken fingers. (This was important to mention because it almost happened!)  When we were finished, we made sure to put everything that came in contact with chicken in the dishwasher and used soap, water and antibacterial spray to clean out the sink and all surfaces, and of course, we washed our hands again.

Tip 3: Make it fun! Let them use all of the tools.

I’m pretty sure what my daughter liked most about making these chicken strips, was using all of the tools.  Whisks, tongs and spatulas are fun for kids so bring them all out, even if it means having a few extra dishes to do afterward. You can save time in other ways, with these meal prep tips.

Meal prep tips for this recipe

Slice, portion and freeze your chicken

When I did last month’s post, I bought a club pack of chicken, used four breasts for the Bruschetta Chicken and sliced the four remaining breasts for the chicken strips and froze them. That is one strategy that will save you at least ten minutes, because you won’t have to slice the chicken or have extra dishes to do.  If you were making this recipe with a new package of chicken, you could also consider cooking the remaining breasts in your slow cooker, shredding them and freezing them for other meals like I did in this Back-to-School Meal Prep post.

Reduce the number of steps in the breading process for the chicken strips

Another time-saver we discovered while making this recipe was to coat all the chicken in the mayo parm mixture, instead of dipping each strip individually.  Combine the ingredients, then pour over the chicken and toss with tongs until all the chicken pieces are coated.  That makes breading a one-step process.  (This is also great for when cooking with kids, because everything seems to take longer.)

Improvise and use what you have on hand

This recipe called for basil, but when I reached for it, I realized that the grocery clerk who assembled my order, had given me mint instead.  We swapped it out and used dill.  You can add any seasonings or spices to these chicken fingers.  Don’t have mayo? Use eggs, or mustard, or milk. Anything that will allow the breading to stick to the chicken. If you choose to use a liquid other than mayo, be sure to brush the breaded strips with butter or spray with canola oil to crisp them up.  No panko? Try corn flakes, breadcrumbs, potato chips or pretzels.  Anything to get that crispy texture.

There are so many great recipes on manitobachicken.ca that you can try with your kids and you can search them by cut or by preparation technique. There are a lot of basic recipes that call for ingredients you most-likely already have on hand under the Kid Friendly section of their recipe page.  You can also check out the chicken section of my recipe index for other great recipes using Manitoba chicken.  

What is your family’s favorite way to enjoy Manitoba chicken? Comment below and let us know!

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