Wondering what to do with a whole chicken? Make these 4 easy, healthy recipes

These days, we’re all looking to make our lives a little easier and less stressful. Whether we’re working from home or have kids who are attending school virtually, we often don’t have the time to spend hours in the kitchen making our favorite meals.

But an easy way to keep your diet healthy while making multiple dinners that are flavorful and fun is to use a grilled chicken. Whether you use the pre-grilled cutlets from a deli counter, a whole pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or cook your own chicken breasts on a pan or your barbecue, you can feed your family for days. By using these recipes and adding some simple ingredients, you can make a simple chicken that’s great for sandwiches, stews and lasagnas. These recipes will save you time and, with the addition of vegetables and whole wheat grains, provide a variety of nutrients to keep your body and immune system healthy, all without sacrificing flavor.

For instance, if you buy a whole rotisserie chicken, you can carve that up and serve it with a side of vegetables and a healthy baked potato. Then, with the recipes below, you can save the leftovers, mix them with a variety of vitamin-rich vegetables and turn some of it into a chicken sandwich by adding a sauce made from low-fat mayonnaise and citrus juice and serving it on whole-wheat bread. You can also serve that chicken and vegetable mixture over pasta or lettuce, or as a standalone stew. Then those leftovers can be used with calcium-rich, low-fat cheeses and marinara sauce to make a simple lasagna that will taste great fresh or reheated.

If you decide to buy raw chicken breasts and cook them yourself, you can use your grill or a nonstick pan. Many people make the mistake of overcooking the cutlets — instead, simply cook them for two to three minutes per side, making sure they’re sizzling. Because you’re going to be cubing or shredding the chicken, based on your preference, you don’t have to worry about cutting the breasts open to check they’re cooked all the way through. In the end, the seasonings, garlic, onions and other vegetables will add plenty of flavor, and give you the recommended amount of protein, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. (If you use a full rotisserie chicken, you can even boil the bones with some carrots and potatoes to make your own broth to use later.)

Using this simple method, you’ll be eating fresh meals with half or less of the prep time you’d spend starting from scratch every night. These recipes are healthy, they taste great and, best of all, you can put your own spin on it so you and every member of your family won’t get tired of eating them. It’s the perfect way to give yourself more time to relax and enjoy the autumn!

CHICKEN SANDWICH

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients & Directions:

Salad:

  • 2 cups grilled chicken, cubed
  • ½ cup cucumbers, cubed
  • ½ cup tomatoes, cubed
  • ¼ cup red onions, minced
  • ½ cup radishes, cubed
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced
  • ½ cup red peppers, cubed

Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients in a saucer and mix well.

Other:

You can use at room temperature or warm. Cut roll in half and insert salad in the bread.

CHICKEN PASTA SALAD 

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 cups grilled chicken, cubed
  • ½ cup cucumbers, cubed
  • ½ cup tomatoes, cubed
  • ¼ cup red onions, minced
  • ½ cup radishes, cubed
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced
  • ½ cup red peppers, cubed
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup bowtie pasta, boiled and soft

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Mix all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add mayo and lemon juice into a saucer, add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well.
  4. Serve over bowtie pasta (or bed of lettuce, if desired).

CHICKEN STEW

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grilled chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup yellow onions, minced
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced
  • ½ cup red peppers, sliced
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • ½ cup zucchini, diced
  • ½ cup eggplant, diced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a large pot, warm up the oil and add the onions and garlic. 
  2. When you smell the aroma of the onions and garlic, add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Simmer on medium-low and add salt and pepper to taste. If the mix is too dry add half a cup of water and mix well.
  4. Once all the ingredients are warm but still firm, serve over rice, pasta or with a side of bread.

CHICKEN-VEGETABLES LASAGNA

Makes 6 servings

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups grilled chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup yellow onions, minced
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced
  • ½ cup red peppers, sliced
  • ½ cup Carrots, shredded
  • ½ cup zucchini, diced
  • ½ cup eggplant, diced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 box whole wheat lasagna pasta
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

  • Boil pasta until soft. 
  • Once soft, remove pasta from hot water and rinse with cold water. Put aside.
  • In a large pot, warm up the oil and add the onions and garlic. 
  • When you smell the aroma of the onions and garlic, add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add marinara sauce and let it simmer on medium-low. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once all the ingredients are warm but still firm put aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Mix spinach with ricotta cheese. Put aside.
  • In a baking pan, place a layer of pasta and cover with a layer of the chicken stew.
  • Add another layer of pasta. Cover with a layer of ricotta cheese.
  • Continue steps 8 and 9 until you finish the ingredients.
  • Top lasagna with a layer of ricotta cheese. Drizzle with parmesan cheese.
  • Cover with aluminum foil, leaving a small opening in a corner. Place in the oven and bake it at 400 F for 40 minutes.
  • Remove aluminum foil and bring back to oven for another 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Remove lasagna from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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Sandra Arevalo is a Registered Dietician and Director of Community and Patient Education at Montefiore Nyack and Spokesperson for AND and AADE.

Follow Sandra on her social channels on LinkedIn and @SandraArevaloRD on Facebook.

Discover more recipes and learn about Montefiore’s commitment to create a healthy community at www.montefiore.org.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.