I have a crazy life. Who doesn’t? Crazy but so, so blessed!

Crazy means little time to make the great meals I insist on for my family. I’ve said before that my secret to eating real, healthy food and staying sane is to cook ahead and make more than I need for one meal so I can rely on leftovers. My other secret? I keep meals really simple. Good, but simple.

I always have cooked organic chicken in the fridge as a protein of choice (and sometimes in the freezer too!). What do you do with chicken so you don’t eat chicken and green beans every night? 

cooked chicken

Leftover bowl of chicken= not appetizing, I know!

Loaded salad

Loaded Lettuce Salad = Better

Here are 5 simple ideas for that leftover chicken. Dinner in 20 minutes or less that’s healthy!

  1. Zucchini Pasta – zucchini noodles are my summertime obsession. If you don’t have a spiralizer to make the noodles, a vegetable peeler will work! I eat them raw, but you could easily heat them up in a pan with a little olive oil too. Top with leftover spaghetti sauce (I make a big batch and keep leftovers in a mason jar in the freezer) and reheated, cubed chicken. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh basil if you have some! Otherwise dried basil works too. 
  2. Taco Salad – If you have time to shred your chicken and add to a pan with some water or stock and cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne and paprika, go for it! Let the chicken reheat and soak up some spices without getting dried out. I often just use plain chicken and douse it with salsa to be honest. Make a salad with your favorites: tomatoes, salsa, avocado, cucumbers, corn, canned black beans (drain and rinse), etc., and you’re good to go! I like to cut up a Food for Life sprouted corn or brown rice tortilla to eat with my salad. If I have time, I’ll heat tortilla triangles in the oven for a couple minutes to make my own chips.
  3. Stir Fry – Add chopped onion and garlic to a skillet or wok with some coconut oil over high heat. Chop and drop in any veggies you have (peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, etc). I like to add red pepper flakes, ginger, and tamari (better-for-you soy sauce) and cook until veggies are crisp-tender. Right before the veggies are done, add cubed or shredded chicken so it soaks up a bit of sauce and heats up. Done! Is marinated chicken better? Probably. But this is easy and delicious, and not having to cook the chicken saves time.
  4. Loaded Lettuce Salad – This is my go-to lunch. I make big batches of roasted, cubed sweet potatoes so this comes together in minutes. Spring mix, half an avocado (diced), reheated sweet potato cubes and reheated chicken. A little sea salt, and I don’t even need dressing. You have the creaminess of the avocado and sweetness of the potato combined with the salt. Perfectly satisfying. Of course add any other veggies you like, and a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar would be just fine.
  5. Avocado Chicken Salad – You’re probably used to chicken salad with mayo, celery, and grapes, but this is a fun variation with healthy fat! Cube or shred 2 chicken breasts and dice up an apple, celery, and scallions. Mash one or two avocados (depending on size) and mix with juice from ½ a lemon. Mix all ingredients together, adding sea salt and pepper to taste. If you have fresh dill from your grade, that’s a great addition. Serve over lettuce or on a sprouted grain roll or bread.

Did this get you thinking? What quick meals do you make with leftover chicken?