Included recipes: Barbie Taters, Southwest Chicken Salad
I hear you groan. Admit it. “Planning and Organization” sounds like the dreaded four-letter word that starts with ‘w’. In reality, planning and organization will save you a ton of time and w*** while making it easy day-to-day in keeping with your positive eating plan. It allows you to multi-task, so to speak, to accomplish a whole lot in a short amount of time. Are ya with me?
Just as an aside… do you know another word for laziness? It’s efficiency. Efficient is good! All positive!
I talked about this some in the Make it Once, Count it Once post. When you make several recipes that have common ingredients, make them all at the same time. It not only saves you time, it helps to eliminate waste. For instance, if you use half of a red onion in your salads, chop the rest to put in your frittatas and tuna salad. No waste and no half an onion in a baggie rotting at the bottom of your fridge veggie drawer to gross you out in a month.
The same technique works with entrees so that one cooking session can easily make two different recipes for a lot of meals. So I’m making my grocery list for my weekly shopping run tomorrow. What am I hungry for? Ooo, I know, I want barbie taters (BBQ on loaded baked potato for those who don’t yet speak “Pat”). BBQ brisket and pork are loaded with calories, so I’m going to make BBQ chicken breasts so I can have more bites of equal yum and still meet my 400 calorie maximum for each entree. Got a 3-lb family pack of boneless, skinless breasts on special sitting in the freezer. Don’t need all of that for the barbie taters so I will also make a delicious chicken salad for lunches. I also want to make more garden salads for the week.
I will use 2 lbs of the chicken for the barbie taters. How many potatoes do I need and what calories will I be adding to the entrees when I eat them in the form of Greek yogurt (substituting for the sour cream with absolutely NO less flavor and satisfaction) and chopped green onions that I will be piling on there? Let’s look for the information needed with a quickie Google (once upon a time that would have sounded illegal) and a bit of simple arithmetic:
- 2 lbs raw chicken breasts = 928 cal
The following are the same in each individual serving for a total of 231 calories:
- Small potato, baked = 120 cal
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt = 30 cal
- 2 stalks green onion, chopped = 6 cal
- 3 TBS BBQ sauce = 75 cal
So if I want each entree to be 400 calories at most, that means I can add up to 169 calories of chicken. So 928 divided by 169 = 5.49. Cool. I will make 6 servings, so 928 divided by 6 = 155 calories. The total for each entree will then be 386 calories. Perfect. Will each entree be exactly 386 calories? Nope, course not. But it’s close enough and to make things easy I’m still going to count each as 400 calories anyway. I’m… efficient that way. Don’t want to have to remember or write all that down somewhere for reference when I pull whatever entree out of the freezer. No more counting.
Add 6 small potatoes to my shopping list or 3 big ones to cut in half. Also add green onions and yogurt, which I will also be using in my chicken salad.
Now, it’s tomorrow, my shopping is done and I’m ready to cook. Wash the taters and toss them in the microwave for about 15 minutes to cook. Plop the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot, cover with water, and use the manual setting for 8 minutes. Allowing time for the pressure to build and a slow release of 10 minutes, the chicken will take about 25 minutes to cook.
While those are cooking, I will prepare the other ingredients for the chicken salad:
Southwest Chicken Salad (prep time under 10 minutes)
- 1 lb chicken, cooked and chopped = 464 cal (raw)
- 3 stalks chopped celery = 18 cal
- 6 stalks chopped green onions = 18 cal
- handfull chopped cilantro = 5 cal
- 1 – 2.25 oz can sliced black olives = 120 cal
- 3/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt = 80
- salt and pepper
Total calories = 705 calories so I can enjoy 3 large servings for 235 calories each. Excellent for lunch with a side of a half cup of blackberries with 2 TBS of half-and-half, sprinkled with a little Truvia for another 70 calories for a total of under 300 calories.
- Toss the (cooked, chopped) chicken and veggies into a bowl.
- Whir the yogurt, olives, and cilantro together in a mini-processor if you have one. Otherwise, finely chop the olives and cilantro and blend into the yogurt to make the dressing.
- Fold it in with the other ingredients.
- Add salt to taste.
Obviously, I will actually mix the chicken salad up once the chicken is cooked, cooled, and chopped. Everything else is ready.
I still have about 15 minutes til the chicken is done. Time to make 4-5 garden salads with leaf lettuce, roma tomato, red onion, grated carrot, and feta cheese in individual bowl containers. By then the taters should be cooked. Kinda cut and fluff those up and divide between 6 entree containers, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the chicken is done and pressure released, I can shred 2/3 of it and divide that between the 6 containers and top with BBQ sauce. Put the lids on and stash one in the fridge for dinner (green onions are already chopped and in a little container ready to go), the rest in the freezer. Chop the remaining chicken, now cooled, to blend with the other chicken salad ingredients. Divide that into 3 containers for lunches.
In about 30 minutes, I have made 6 dinner entrees, 3 lunches, and 4-5 salads to eat with either one or just by itself when I get the hungries. I also have lovely chicken broth to add to Buddy the dog’s food (yeah, I cook for him, too – a whole ‘nother post).
How easy was that!