Winner, Winner, 4 Ways to Chicken Dinner

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
"What's for dinner?" It seems like an easy enough question, but when it's asked 365 times a year, the answers may start to become a bit repetitive—or downright dull. Between work, school and activities, coming up with fresh meal ideas on the daily is a tall order. But with a little creativity and planning, you can prep just once and get four meals out of it.

How can you possibly get four meals out of one night of prepping, you ask? Well, you can either host a food prep party, or simplify the meals for just your own family, thinking one week at a time.
We asked Larry Misleh*, owner and chef of the Madison Diner and chef at The Oak Tavern, what recipes he would suggest that could feed four in four meals. He chose chicken for this example, mainly because it's one of the most popular, versatile and affordable meats. Whether you're already a whiz in the kitchen or can't remember the last time you turned on your oven, you can turn three chickens into four delicious, nutritious meals that will save you time and money.
Stock up on the below ingredients, spend a couple of hours prepping, and you'll have a ready answer next time your family asks that inevitable daily question.
What You'll Need:
  • 3 large whole chickens (approximately 3-4 pounds each; weight varies)
  • 1 5-lb. bag of carrots
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 1 stalk celery (less one rib)
  • 8 large russet potatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chicken base (concentrated chicken stock, 3.5 oz. container)
  • 1 whole grain wheat baguette
  • 2 bunches broccoli (trim off florets and trim and cut stems, discard stem trimmings)
  • Small jar tahini (16 oz.)
  • 1 container mixed salad greens (5 oz.)
  • Small bag almond slivers (6 oz.)
  • 1 bag quinoa (16 oz.)
  • 1 bag brown rice (16 oz.)
  • 1 container fat-free, Greek-style yogurt (7 oz.)
  • Small red onion
  • Dry basil
  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 limes
  • Cumin, ground
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 roasting pans with lids
Prep Work:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Spray three separate roasting pans (lidded) with cooking spray
  • Place one chicken in each roasting pan, breast side up
  • Sprinkle the three chickens with salt and pepper
  • Peel yellow onions and chop into 1-inch pieces
  • Rinse celery and chop into 1-inch pieces
  • Peel carrots and chop into 1-inch pieces
  • Peel potatoes; leave whole
  • Divide ingredients evenly into pans
  • Add 1 cup water to each pan
  • Cover and cook for 2-1/2 hours
  • Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes
  • Remove pans from oven and move to range top
  • Remove chicken and potatoes; place on separate plate
  • Add 1 cup water to each pan and deglaze on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, scraping bits from bottom of pan with spatula to create the chicken broth
  • Let cool and put broth and veggies from all three pans into large container; refrigerate for later use
  • Remove meat from two of the chickens (separately); refrigerate for later use
  • Save the meat from the third chicken for your first meal
  • Discard all bones
Meal #1: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with Steamed Broccoli

For this meal, you’ll eat the meat from one chicken (put on a serving platter) and a third of the potatoes. For a side, steam the two bunches of broccoli on the stovetop for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Meal #2: Chicken Soup with Brown Rice and Whole-Wheat Baguette
  • Remove chicken broth from refrigerator; pull off layer of fat from top of broth and discard
  • Put broth vegetables (stored earier) in stockpot (a pot in which stock for soup is prepared by long, slow cooking)
  • Add an additional 5 cups of water to the stockpot
  • Bring to a boil; simmer 30 minutes
  • Add 1 cup brown rice; simmer 20 minutes
  • Cut up the meat of 1 roasted chicken into bite-size pieces; add to pot
  • Add 2 tablespoons chicken base
  • Simmer 10 minutes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat baguette can be sliced and toasted

Meal #3: Chicken and Mixed Greens Salad with Tahini Dressing

Prepare salad greens:

  • Chop meat from half of the remaining chicken
  • Rinse mixed greens and pat dry with paper towels
  • Add other raw vegetables as desired (optional)
Prepare Tahini dressing:

  • Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • Add 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Add 3 tablespoons tahini
  • Add 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Add a pinch of cumin
  • Toast 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds until slightly browned and add to dressing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix all ingredients in bowl and serve over chicken and greens

Meal #4: Chicken Salad and Quinoa

  • Chop up remaining chicken half
  • Add ½ cup Greek yogurt (more or less as desired)
  • Toast ½ cup sliced almonds in dry frying pan until just brown; remove immediately and add to chicken
  • Add 1 teaspoon basil
  • Peel red onion and slice into thin half moons; add ½ cup onion to chicken
  • Thinly slice 1 rib of leftover celery and add to chicken
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Prepare 2 cups of quinoa according to package instructions for a side dish

*Professional chef Larry Misleh is brother to Elizabeth, one of SparkPeople’s editors.

What's your favorite way to serve chicken? Share your ideas and recipes below.

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TURQUROISE 5/14/2020
great idea from one chicken Report
RYCGIRL 1/20/2020
thx Report
MUSICNUT 10/31/2019
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Great article! Report
thanks Report
Great recipes Report
good info Report
Thanks. Report
A good one! Thank you! Report
Great ideas! Report
Loved these ideas! Thanks for posting! Report
I agree with everyone keep the bones and make the broth homemade, also two small chickens this size 3-4 lbs would easily fit in my covered roaster, maybe even 3, but I can see no reason for 3, I would never put the meat of a whole chicken on one pot of soup to serve 4, there wouldn't be any room for veggies or rice. I do not consider a "large". chicken to weigh 3-4 lbs, that is a small chicken, a large chicken is 6-9 lbs. Report
Don't throw away the bones! Boil them and make broth! Report
I would like to see more of these cooking ideas. Love it Report
Who has three roasting pans with lids? Report
I'm thinking, unless you have a LARGE family, that you don't need a whole chicken for most of these meals. Maybe where the chicken is the 'main dish', yes. But for salads, packed with veggies and grains? It should be a supporting flavor, not the main thing. I bet you could do this/these with 2 chickens, easy. And small ones at that. Report
The recipes sound interesting and healthy. I try to use leftover meat for soup, stirfrys and quesadilla's after having a chicken dinner or beef or pork roast. Sandwiches are good, too, beef dip sandwiches and panini's. Report
One stalk of celery less one rib? It seems like the recipe meant one package of celery. And I completely agree with not being able to roast 3 chickens at once. And yes, if you have a kitchen that big, you can certainly find the space to make broth with the bones. Lastly, I think they must have used very small chickens for these recipes. Otherwise, I agree that this should make more than 4 meals. Report
This is a great idea, except for throwing out all the bones (I agree with the others - what a waste!), but I can tell you right now that there is no way that I could fit 3 covered roasting pans in my oven all at once. I'm not even sure that 2 would fit. That means they would have to be cooked separately which means 9 hours of cooking time just to get the chickens roasted. Yes, you could be prepping other things while they roast but not sure that this is really going to save me much time.

I do like the recipes for the tahini dressing and the chicken salad with quinoa though. Report
I was amazed to see "Discard all bones." That is stock. How often do you want stock? Always. At this point it is no added sugars or sodium. And very minimal sodium if you added the salt. Report
Why would you throw out the bones without making bone broth first?? It's not hard.. Throw all 3 carcasses into a large slow cooker with water to cover and leave on low for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove bones and sift broth threw strainer to remove small bits and refrigerate after cooled. Once cold the fat solidifies on top and you just remove it and you have pure bone broth for all sorts of bases...

Some people flavor bone broth up with veggies while cooking for added flavor.. Better yet do not throw out your end cuts of carrots and celery.. Use them in the broth instead of using good cuts. I leave mine plain so I can use it in anything.

Also I am not sure of recipe sizes.. assuming your feeding 4 people, you should have more than 4 meals from 3 whole chickens.. More like 6 meals.. Report