Roast chicken seven ways – eat for a week!
Being a thrifty student, I’ve always struggled to find affordable ways to get meat like chicken into my meals. It’s full of protein and goodness, but can be very pricey, especially if you buy just breast meat rather than a whole bird. I decided to use all of the parts of a whole roast chicken and see if I could eat for a week (eating chicken for every evening meal, which admittedly I wouldn’t normally do) with just the meat and stock from one chicken. I managed it, and I’m so pleased with all of the different recipes I’ve managed to try. I ate every dinner and lots of lunches made from leftovers – and I still have a portion of meat left in my freezer – that’s what I call good value for money!
I would advise planning your meals in advance and doing all of your shopping for the week at once. This means you can stay focused and you don’t have the stress of deciding what to eat and sourcing ingredients after a long day of work. I’m not going to share my exact shopping list or recipes (because my recipes weren’t a very exact science!), but all of these dishes were very easy to put together and don’t require any particularly exotic ingredients – promise.
First, I prepped for the week by roasting the chicken, stripping all of the meat off the bones and immediately freezing half. Tip: When freezing, tear your chicken into bite sized pieces and lay out on a baking tray in the freezer. Once it’s frozen, you can store it all in a freezer bag or other container and none of the pieces will freeze together into lumps – making it easier to defrost just the right amount when you want to use it. Next, I made chicken stock by adding the chicken bones to a pan of boiling water (make sure the chicken is completely covered), adding an onion for flavour and simmering for two to three hours before sieving and refrigerating. You can keep your stock in the fridge for up to a week because the layer of fat which will form on the top protects it from any bacteria (so neat).
Once you’re all prepped and you’ve done your shopping for the week, it’s time to get started!
*Note: I apologise for my food photography! It all tasted great but food presentation wasn’t top of my priorities!
Day 1: Mini roast chicken dinner
On the first day, I roasted some parsnips, broccoli and brussel sprouts, and combined it with some of my freshly roasted chicken and some fresh chicken stock (as gravy) to make a mini roast dinner. You could get all fancy and add mashed potatoes, stuffing or anything that you normally have along with your roast. Totally fresh and delicious, and you get a taste of the delicious stock you’ll be enjoying later in the week.
Day 2: Avocado, Cucumber, Feta and Chicken salad
This salad is so easy to make, I ate it for dinner and then for two more lunches during the week. I’ve had this recipe ‘pinned’ for a while, and all I did was adapt it a tiny bit to include chicken, and swap out the lemon juice and dill for simple olive oil. I also added in lots of seeds and some pine nuts. It was so, so yummy and made me feel pretty fancy eating a healthy salad with pine nuts and everything.
Day 3: Chicken and avocado sushi
Rob and I have started making sushi together, and because chicken and avocado is one of my favourite combinations I figured it would work great as one of my meals this week. Although it might seem a bit daunting, sushi is actually very simple to make. You need sushi rice and rice vinegar (or ‘sushi su’ which you mix into the rice to make it sticky), sushi nori (the seaweed which wraps around the sushi) and a bamboo rolling mat in order to shape the sushi rolls. I didn’t have a rolling mat so I bought a sushi making kit which came with all of the ingredients, the rolling mat, and chopsticks, but next time I’ll save money by just buying the rice, nori and vinegar. I really love sushi – it felt good for me to spend time making something (even if it is food – it kind of felt like a craft project!) and the results were so good!
Day 4: Sweet and sour stir fry
Okay, this one kind of looks like stodge – but it tasted delicious! It’s a simple stir fry with brussel sprouts and broccoli, sweet and sour sauce from a packet and rice noodles (which are naturally gluten free). I should have added way more veg and way less noodles, but it was yummy none the less. I actually made enough for two dinners but before I could even get it in a tupperware I ate it all. #noregrets
Day 5: Thai Green Curry
This was my favourite meal of the whole week – and it was so easy to put together! First I diced my sprouts and broccoli and then fried them off in a little bit of oil. Once they were browned, I removed them from the pan and added in two heaped teaspoons of thai green curry paste. I fried the paste for a minute or two (to bring out the flavour – Imogen advised me with this curry and she got it spot on!), then added coconut milk (I would advise adding half a tin first, and then adding more depending on your taste and how spicy you like things to be – safe to say I added the whole tin!) Then it was a case of adding my vegetables back in and a good handful of my pre-frozen chicken. Heat on a low heat until the chicken is defrosted and piping hot, and then you’re good to go! It tastes amazing, it’s easy and you get loads of veg. What’s not to love?
Day 6: ‘Thick Veg soup’
This is a soup that my Mum used to make for me and my sister when we were little. It was always such a treat and we used to get a kick out of the fact that even though it’s called ‘thick veg soup’ there is not a vegetable in sight. Now is the time for your chicken stock to have its moment – simply heat it up in a saucepan with dried pasta or rice, a spoonful of marmite and a handful of your pre-frozen chicken. Just as before, heat the soup on a low heat until the pasta is cooked through and the chicken is piping hot. I eat mine with lots and lots of grated cheese and bread and butter. It is so, so good and that chicken stock is just heavenly.
Day 7: Leftovers!
Okay so I was going to make a chicken broth with noodles and veg for my last day of the week, but I might have accidentally got a bit too enthusiastic on Day 6 and made all of my stock into delicious, delicious soup. Oops. Instead, I ate leftover thai green curry (still just as good), and feasted on the sweet sweet savour of success.
As you can probably tell, I’m pretty smug that I managed to make this work – with leftovers and the days that I had chicken for lunch as well as dinner this one chicken made ten meals in total! Granted, I don’t eat particularly large portions, but by using every part of the chicken, I really managed to stretch my food budget this week, and got to eat a really varied selection of tasty and easy-to-prepare meals.
I hope this has inspired you to think of some creative ways to make the most out of the humble chicken – what do you think I should tackle next?