This week’s meal plan is about saving you time, reducing your stress at the end of the day, and eating on a budget. But most importantly, it’s about eating for your health by emphasizing fiber, lean protein and lots of non-starchy veggies. The previous post featured different ways of preparing pork and beans for a week’s worth of meals for a family of four. The spot light this week will be on quick, healthy chicken meals with barley. Barley is my recommended substitute for rice since it is much higher in fiber- 8 grams in 1/2 cup serving- and one of the best grains for lowering the bad LDL cholesterol.
Again, my approach is to prepare as many ingredients up front to be used in several recipes during the week. And don’t be afraid to even double my recipes; they can always be frozen. Your freezer is also your stress reducer. Just make sure you date each item that goes in the freezer and know how long it is safe to keep in there.
Quick Healthy Chicken Meals
With the help of slow cooking and using a crock-pot you will prepare the chicken two different ways for four to five different meals. You will also make all the barley needed for the whole week which will save you steps for the soup as well as for the Tikki Masala. I will give you tips on preparing different steps of each meal to help you complete everything at the same time and also get you started on the next day’s meal. This is what I mean by the one step, two and even three or four meal shuffle! That is what I call a stress reducer. You could even make extra barley and freeze it for another time.
#1. Roasted Lime Chicken with Barley and Roasted Vegetables
- 1 Large Capon Chicken – 7-8#
- 1 lime
- 1 head garlic
- 1 large onion
- 1 large (30 oz) bag of barley (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 heads cauliflower
- 5 cups broccoli
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 275. Rinse the chicken in cold water and then pat it dry, setting aside the paper bag with the neck and organs stuffed inside the chicken. Cut up the lime into small 1/2 inch pieces and the onion into eight pieces. Take half the head of garlic and cut the cloves in half. Stuff the chicken with all the cut up ingredients and place in a roasting pan. Bake in the 275 oven for 30 minutes per pound – four hours for a 8 pound capon. Baste 5-6 times once the pan starts to collect drippings in the last two hours.
Cook the barley in the last hour of roasting the chicken. Place the barley in a large pot with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil on high. Then turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer for an hour.
Right before the chicken is done, turn up the oven to 400 while you prepare the vegetables. You are preparing enough for 3 meals as a time-saving tip. Cut up the broccoli and cauliflower into 2-3″ pieces and put in a bowl. Toss with the olive oil and spices and place on a cookie sheet. Remove the chicken from the oven and roast the vegetables in the for 25 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, cut up the chicken, setting aside all the lime, onion and garlic stuffed inside. Fill a large pot with at least 12-14 cups of water and place all the bones, skin, pan drippings and the neck and organs and bring to a boil. Turn down to low, cover and simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the bones, skin and organs and refrigerate over night to let the fat congeal to skim off in the morning. Save half the chicken, the lime stuffing and 2/3 of the barley and the roast vegetables for the soup and the Tikki Masala.
Nutritional Breakdown based on 5 oz of chicken, 1/2 cup barley, 3/4 cup broccoli, 3/4 cup cauliflower. Total Calories: 470 calories, Total Fat: 14g, Total Carbs: 45g, Fiber: 12g, Protein: 40g
#2. Sublime Chicken Barley Soup
- Rest of the roasted chicken
- Broth from simmering the bones
- Lime, onions, garlic stuffing (from last night’s meal)
- 1 1/2 cups each of broccoli and cauliflower (the rest set aside from last night’s meal)
- 1 bag frozen fiesta vegetable
- 1 box frozen chopped spinach thawed in frig (take out the night before)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
- 2 cups of the cooked barley
- 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
An hour before you want to eat dinner skim the fat off the broth and set aside 2 cups for tomorrow’s dinner. Put the other ingredients in the pot with broth and stir together. Let simmer on low with the lid until the frozen vegetables are soft. Go for a walk and dinner will be ready! Serve with some whole grain rolls, Wasa or Akmak crackers or my Whole Wheat Popovers.
Nutritional Breakdown based on 2 1/2 cup serving of soup (containing about 3 oz of chicken): Total calories: 430, Total fat: 4g, Total Carbs: 55g, Fiber: 13g, Protein: 29g
#3. Barbecue Chicken with Orange Zest Cole Slaw
- 12 boneless chicken breasts ( you will set aside 8 of them for the next two meals)
- 2 cups chicken bouillon
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
Take the boneless chicken breasts and place them in the crock-pot with 2 cups of the reserved chicken stock, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours. When the chicken is done, remove 8 of the breasts and refrigerate for the next meals. Shred the other four with a fork and place in a bowl with the BBQ sauce. Serve on top of a whole grain hot dog bun with the Cole Slaw (below) on the side and some sliced apple spritzed with fresh lime juice.
- 1/2 large or 1 whole small green cabbage
- 2 large carrots
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Take cabbage and slice as thinly as possible with a large kitchen knife and then go across each layer so you have one inch thin strips. Grate the carrots and mix in with the cabbage. You will have to thaw the orange juice concentrate. Take the leftover and put in separate containers and refreeze for another time. Mix the liquid ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the slaw and toss together. Use half of the Cole Slaw for this meal and save the rest for tomorrow’s meal.
As a time-saving tip (but it will be more expensive) you can use prepared Cole Slaw mix but you will need to buy two bags for the two different meals. I prefer a finer grated slaw so I like to make my own and make enough for tomorrow night’s meal as well.
Nutritional Breakdown for 1 breast BBQ chicken in whole wheat hot dog bun: Total calories: 310, Total fat: 4.4g, Total Carbs: 25g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 45g
Nutritional Breakdown of Cole Slaw: Total calories: 86, Total fat: 3.6g, Total Carbs: 13g, Fiber: 2.2g, Protein: 1.7g
#4. Chicken Burrito Wrap
- 4 cooked chicken breasts shredded
- 1 14 oz can black beans (or ones from the pork and beans menu if you make extra and froze them)
- Cole slaw ( 1 bag or the rest from last night’s meal)
- 1 thinly sliced avocado (1/4 for each burrito)
- 4 10″ whole grain wraps
If you followed by directions up to here you have all the ingredients that you worked with earlier and you just need to put them all together. You could top with some freshly grated cheese but that will add calories and saturated fat. Personally, this mixture could only be improved by squeezing some fresh lime juice over the ingredients before you close up the wrap! It’s a whole meal in your hands. To reduce the calories, skip the avocado and use a smaller tortilla wrap.
Nutritional Breakdown of Chicken Burrito Wrap: Total calories: 589, Total fat: 18.6g, Total Carbs: 58g, Fiber: 12g, Protein: 49g
5. Tikki Masala
- 4 cooked and shredded chicken breasts (the remainder of the crock-pot chicken)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 diced onion
- 1 apple cut into small pieces
- 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp Garam Masala ( a group of premixed Indian spices)
- 2-3 cups each of broccoli and cauliflower (the rest of the roasted vegetables from earlier)
- 2 cups cooked barley ( the rest of the barley from the first meal)
Saute the onion in a 14″ skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. If you did not make enough broccoli and cauliflower earlier, then use a frozen bag of each vegetable and add to the sautéed onion, and cover with a lid for one minute. Add the apple and shredded chicken. In a mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, diced tomatoes and the spices and mix well. Pour over the ingredients in the skillet and stir together. Turn the heat off, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Served over the warmed barley.
Nutritional Breakdown of Tikki Masala: Total calories: 415, Total fat: 4g, Total Carbs: 50g, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 48g
The One Step, Multi-Meal Shuffle
These quick, healthy chicken meals are delicious, affordable and can be done with time-saving tips. Even though you are eating chicken 5 different nights you will be experiencing then in completely different ways with different spices and delivery systems. And if the idea of 5 nights of chicken doesn’t appeal to you, you could swap the crock-pot chicken recipes with some of the pork and bean recipes if you were willing to freeze some of the earlier ones. It takes a little more planning but it can be done. You could also roast 2 chickens or double the crock-pot chicken and freeze some of the meat. This doesn’t take any more time, just more ingredients and your freezer. This is where you can take advantage of sales and buy things in bulk for even more cost savings. It just takes thinking beyond today to save you time and money tomorrow. Now that’s my kind of One Step, Multi-meal Shuffle that keeps me at a healthy weigh today!