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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

The Simple Ingredient That Will Make Weeknight Dinners Way Easier

You just can’t beat a roast chicken, straight from the oven, can you? Hugely comforting and incredibly tasty, the only glitch is the amount of work that goes into it all. You’ve got kitchen string to deal with, you’re wrestling with scary-looking chicken parts, and there’s always the question of what to stuff or flavor the bird with. Not to mention avoiding contaminating your entire kitchen with raw chicken juice!

Sure, I’ve been know to roast a chicken in my day, but lately I find myself choosing the easy route—straight to my local grocery store to pick up a delicious, juicy bird, fresh from the rotisserie. And why not? It’s versatile, it’s economical, and there are so many different ways you can spruce up a chicken to make a delicious meal.

Read on for nine of my favorite ways to use a store-bought chicken, and be sure to share your favorite meals in the comments section below!

My favorite way to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken is for chicken tacos. All you have to do is take the chicken off the bone, roughly chop it, and then mix together with one packet of taco seasoning mixed with water in a saucepan. While that’s warming up, you can prep your toppings—diced red onion, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, and you’ll be good to go.

You could also put a Greek spin on things and whip up lemon chicken gyros with tzatziki and feta. Remove the chicken from the bone, use your fingers to shred it into long strips, then squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over the top and add some dried oregano before assembling the gyros.

Feeling sniffly? I recently discovered these soup bases at Whole Foods. All you have to do is add chicken and rice noodles, and voilà! You’ve just made pho at home! While you’re bringing the stock to a boil, you can chop up some herbs (basil, cilantro, or mint), cut a lime into wedges, grab Sriracha and soy sauce, and you’ll be all set to grab a bowl and snuggle up on the couch.

Photo courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Or, why not make some baked buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese? Yes, it’s a little more time-consuming than some of the other recipes here, but how can you resist ooey gooey cheese with buffalo sauce? And most of the time is spent in the oven, giving you plenty of time to pour a glass of wine and prep your TV show schedule for the evening.

Having friends over for dinner? Whip up a batch of chicken and green chili enchiladas the night before. You can skip the poaching step, and simply chop or shred the chicken into bite sized pieces before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Set out huge bowls of chips and guac for your guests to munch on while everyone is arriving, and then surprise everyone with make-your-own ice cream sundaes for dessert.

Or, how about barbequed chicken sandwiches? These are super easy, since essentially all the ingredients are store-bought. You just mix together the shredded chicken with barbeque sauce and vinegar, top with some coleslaw picked up from your local deli, and serve on a Kaiser roll. Seriously simple.

Photo courtesy of Simply Recipes

Craving some crunch? A Chinese chicken salad will definitely satisfy this need, piled high with bell peppers, carrots, and chow mein noodles. It’s a breeze to throw together when the chicken’s already cooked—just chop up a few veggies, mix together the vinaigrette, and you’ll be good to go.

In the mood for pasta? How about an easy dish of chicken and spinach stuffed pasta shells, made even easier with the pre-cooked chicken and jarred pasta sauce? This recipe makes a lot, so you’ll definitely have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Of course, you could always be a purist and serve the chicken as is. Since the star of the show has been taken care of, you can spend a few more minutes on the tasty sides, like crash hot potatoes, crispy baked sweet potato fries, green beans with a lemony vinaigrette, or roasted carrots with cumin. Sometimes you just can’t mess with tradition!