My schedule is crazy! I mean REALLY crazy. I will try anything I can to save myself time during the work week. One thing I have started doing is preparing a couple of meals ahead of time on Sunday to save me during the week. Now, I know I am not the first person to have this idea, but I thought I would share what I prepared today and try to inspire some of you for next weekend.

First things first: Let the grocery store help you! Almost all grocery stores now have a delicious rotisserie chicken that you can buy cooked any day/time. These things are amazing and should be every working mom’s secret weapon. Today I bought two! (Sometimes you can even find the day old one that they shredded up, refrigerated and sell for a little less) When you get home from the grocery store, let the bird(s) cool on the counter while you put everything away. 20 mins. and they should be cool enough to handle. Now you just break those suckers down. I usually remove the skin to make the chicken a little healthier. Break the chicken up into little shreds and set aside. This will now be your base for the 3 recipes I have below.

Here’s the thing though: I never use recipes so these are more of ideas than instructions. I like to ‘eye-ball’ and ‘guess’ and throw in a ‘pinch’. All three of these ‘recipes’ are different every time I make them, but you’ll get the point.

Chicken broccoli Casserole: This one is so easy. Take a couple handfuls of the shredded chicken and throw it in a casserole dish with some cream of chicken soup (usually a can of soup and a can of milk-follow measurements on can), chopped broccoli (I buy frozen and microwave it about 2/3 thru), any cheese you like (I usually use some kind of combo like cheddar jack or mozzarella provolone), and egg noodles (cooked very al-dente b/c they will finish in the oven). Season with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder (I usually skip salt with this one because the soup usually has a lot of sodium). Mix all ingredients in the casserole dish (you could also add sour cream or mayo if you want to add a little more tang). Top with more cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 mins. Top with flat leaf parsley. Eat on Sunday night and re-heat for Monday dinner.

Mexican Chicken Soup: This name could be very mis-leading as I have no idea what would be in a mexican soup. That is just what I call it for lack of a more appropriate name. I buy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. The kind I buy is in the organic section of the grocery store and I buy the low sodium kind. Combine the soup, shredded chicken, a can or bag of frozen corn, a can of black beans (rinsed), and a can of diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat. Bring to boil and then let simmer for about 30 mins. to let the flavors mix. Let it cool and refrigerate. This can be dinner on two of the week nights or a couple of lunches during the week. When you go to actually eat it you can add a dollop of sour cream and/or serve with tortilla chips.

Chicken Salad: This is my new favorite lunch!!! I have made this 3 weeks in a row now. Combine the chicken with red grapes-halved, toasted pine nuts or toasted sliced almonds (careful they burn really fast! 4-5 mins on a cookie sheet in the oven), finely diced red onion, light mayo, lemon juice (prob. not even half a lemon), and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve this over mixed greens, eat with crackers, make a sandwich, but I promise it is good enough to eat out of the bowl with a fork and nothing else. You could have this for at least 3 lunches.

So, with 1 hour of cooking on a Sunday you could make 4 dinners and 3 lunches! Obviously there are a thousand other possibilities with the shredded chicken. You could do fajitas or chicken noodle soup or wraps or just throw the shredded chicken on top of a salad. I promise these are all easy and delicious. A little bit of planning up front and you can spend a littlemore quality time with your kids or husband during the hectic work week. Hope this helps.