Pre-made food may seem less than ideal, but when your cooking time is limited, make-ahead meals and ingredients can be a great way to save time without having to sacrifice flavor or nutrition.
Advance meal preparation means that you can have delicious meals whenever you need. When your week is filled to the brim, you’ll be happy you spent a little extra time during the weekend preparing a few meals, or just healthy ingredients, that are ready to go. Roasted proteins like chicken and turkey, cut and washed veggies, and cooked grains like quinoa are just a few examples of ingredients that can stand alone or be used to make a full meal. Even just a few extra minutes each evening can do wonders for your mood, as well as give you more time for yourself and your family!
For a quick meal the whole family will love, give our Quick and Easy Enchiladas with Make-Ahead Chicken a try, and check out our storing tips at the bottom so you can add this to your list of make-ahead meals!
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1-14 oz. can red or green enchilada sauce
8-12 corn tortillas
1 cup cheese, shredded (Cheddar, Monterey Jack or Mexican Blend)
1-10 oz. box frozen spinach, defrosted, pressed between two towels to remove excess water, chopped
1 can of low-sodium sliced black olives
1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) Take 2 large breasts from your make-ahead chicken supply and shred them with two forks or by hand.
3) In a medium bowl, combine shredded chicken, ½-⅔ cup of enchilada sauce and spinach (optional). Set aside.
4) Lay corn tortillas in between 2 damp paper towels and place in microwave. Heat tortillas for 30 seconds, then remove from microwave.
5) Pour ⅓ cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9” x 14” baking pan (or two- 8” x 8” pans).
6) Spoon approximately ⅓ cup of the chicken mixture into the center of a tortilla and roll securely so none of the filling falls out.
7) Place the filled tortilla seam-side down into the pan, length of the tortilla parallel with the short end of the pan. Continue to fill remaining tortillas, roll, and place in pan until full. (If you have extra filling and tortillas, go ahead and continue to another small pan.)
8)Top enchiladas with ½ cup sauce and then sprinkle cheese on top.
9) Place pan in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes.
10) (Optional) Finish off your enchiladas with a few sliced olives.
Follow instructions above but skip steps 5 and 8. After the enchiladas cook and cool completely, you can store a few different ways.
If you want to reheat all of the enchiladas for a family meal later, tightly cover the entire baking dish with foil or matching lid and store in your refrigerator for up to 2 days or in your freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve, pour the sauce (about 1 cup) and sprinkle the cheese from steps 5 and 8 onto enchiladas. Place the entire dish with foil on top into a 350°F oven and bake for 20-30 minutes (refrigerated) or 45 minutes (frozen).
If you would like to make individuals portions that can be easily microwaved for a grab-n-go lunch, store single enchiladas in airtight containers after they’ve cooled. Same freshness times as above. When you’re ready to eat, pour 2-3 tablespoons of sauce over the enchilada, sprinkle with cheese, and microwave for 2-3 minutes.
Nutritional Info (1 enchilada): 215 cal, 7.72g fat, 17g carbs, 12g protein, 108.5mg sodium, 55mg potassium
Add an extra 7 calories for the spinach, and an extra 10 calories if you include olives
Additional Nutrients: magnesium, vitamin B-6, vitamin A, calcium