“What Did You Say Was for Dinner???” The protein source that will make your meal planning, and life, easier.
If those short people who live with me ask me ‘what’s for dinner?’ one more time (after I’ve already concocted homemade breakfasts, am and pm snacks, and lunch, day after day…), I may snap. As in go totally postal in my own kitchen. But since one of my goals in life is to stay out of the slammer, and another is to make sure the kids keep me out of the home when I’m old, I resort to counting to ten, deep breathing techniques, and having chicken breasts ready to go.
I’m not overstating it when I say that the chicken breast is a saving grace in my kitchen and household on a weekly basis. It is one of those staples either in my fridge or freezer at any given time, without fail. Why the chicken breast, of all things?
First, they are full of protein and filling–fewer after dinner ‘I’m still hungry!’ complaints AND I get MY protein needs met.
Second, while bland and not particularly attractive all by their lonesome, chicken breasts’ ‘lack’ of inherent flavor makes them suitable for a huge variety of recipes from a wide variety of cultures (and, therefore, flavors).
Versatility is an important factor in keeping up some semblance of novelty in meal planning and execution. The short people basically try to strike like Italian railway workers at the slightest hint of a repeat meal in the week.
Third, chicken breasts are fantastically easy to prepare and are, typically, very accessible* from a wide variety of food providers (farms, fresh markets, grocery stores, bulk food/warehouse chains).
Here’s why I think you should bake up a batch of chicken breasts every week:
1. Chicken breasts are full of protein.
A 3.6 oz serving of cooked (roasted) chicken breast, which is the recommended serving size, provides 32.25 grams of protein, 173.25 calories, and contains 3.75 grams of fat, .75 of which are saturated.
(All quantities are based on a 3/4 cup serving adjustment to the 1 cup nutritional data provided by USDA SR-21 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/703/2#ixzz3SYWrR9F0 )
You know what protein means in a meal? In a nutshell, feeling fuller for longer, and generally more satisfied, after a meal.
2. Chicken breasts are suitable for a HUGE variety of recipes.
One batch of chicken breasts baked on a weekend, or an evening, can give you a huge head start on creating any number of the following recipes (plus about a thousand more)…
And feel free to read with “Bubba’s” voice in your head….
Chicken Tortilla Soup
White Chicken Chili (pictured on left)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken and Rice Soup
Pho Ga with Chicken
Chicken Soft Tacos
Chicken “Mexican Bowls”
Chicken Waldorf Salad
Green Salad topped with Chicken Breast
Chicken Breast Sandwiches
Chicken Breast Wraps
Chicken Breast “burgers” (California-, Teriyaki-, Buffalo-style….)
“Buffalo Chicken” Breast Strips or Salad
Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
Chicken Breast Strips
Spaghetti with (Chicken Chunk) Tomato Sauce
Chicken Swimming Rama
Baked Chicken “Florentine”
Chicken Penne “Fake Bake”
…and any basic variation of chicken breast +veggie source+ complex carb source
What’s more is almost any of these, or any other chicken recipe you find, can be tweaked to meet YOUR individual nutritional needs, e.g.: low sodium, low fat, low carb.
3. Chicken breasts are fantastically easy to prepare.
A quick sprinkle of this and that, about a half an hour in the oven (baking times vary, you’ll have to watch yours), and we have approximately 6+servings of chicken ready to go in any variety of recipes or meal-creating scenarios.
OR boil the chicken breasts in plain or slightly salted water–if your intention is to shred the chicken, this method can make it easier to shred than baking.
OR, if you really want to get fancy and the weather permits ;), you can grill up a batch. In this case, I’d make it a big batch and get your propane’s worth out of the effort!
3b. Chicken breasts are (generally) readily accessible*.
Chicken is a common meat source, not a specialty food that is hard to find and expensive to procure.
Currently, I live in Germany, and I shop both at the American facilities and the German ones. In both venues, frozen and fresh chicken (whole or in parts) is easy to find, and won’t break the bank.
To date, I’ve also travelled and shopped for food in Canada, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Austria (how fun and intriguing are foreign supermarkets??), and chicken has been a easily-accessed food. Granted, they aren’t terribly exotic locations or third-world countries, but so far it’s been easy for me to find chicken when traveling.
*Quick Side Note: Free Range chicken is probably the best kind for you and for the environment, however, it’s not always easy to find in all cities/locations AND not necessarily affordable (which is also a factor of ‘accessibility’) for every person or family.
Familiar, simple to dress up or down, affordable, filling and an easy addition to make to your weekly meal plans, the chicken breast is here to save the day…or at least dinner…and your sanity 🙂
What are your favorite uses for the chicken breast? What fantastic recipes can you add to the list?? Post in the comments below–I’d love to hear about YOUR best recipes!