Looking for ways to put dinner on the table with a bit of creativity but without the hassle and hectic prep time? I learned years ago that just because I was responsible for making dinners in my household, it didn't mean I was able or interested in prepping a time consuming hot meal five nights a week. If you have the same hectic lifestyle most families have today, these tips and recipes should help you feed your family, stay within budget, and actually enjoy what you cook!

All recipes here start with cooked chicken, and will feed four (with average appetites). Doesn't matter if it's white or dark meat. It doesn't even matter how much chicken you use - you know your family's appetites better than anyone!

I know - most of you are saying, "Cooked chicken? You just told me I didn't have to spend a bunch of prep time making these meals!"

Right! What I do is either buy one of those precooked rotisserie chickens (I love the ones at Costco because they are only $4.99 and absolutely delicious!), or I buy a 3 - 4 pound Purdue roasting chicken when they are on sale (of course, any decent chicken will do) and cook it over a weekend.

Then I cut off all the meat and place it in individual quart size freezer bags to be used later on. Forgot to take some out to defrost in the morning? No problem - just throw a bag in the microwave to defrost while you get the other ingredients together.

Now, here's the beauty of what I do: I teach you how to pair ingredients to put a meal together. I don't outline ingredients you need to measure.

1. Add your cooked chicken to steamed rice (I use the boil in the bag brown rice variety, and make two bags at a time) and one can of cream of chicken soup. Stir well. Spray a baking dish with Pam and add this mixture. Top with slices of cheddar cheese. Microwave on high just until cheese begins to bubble - remember, everything else is already cooked.

2. Add chicken to a large bag of Green Giant Steamers. Wait until one minute before they are done, and add the chicken then. I like the broccoli and cheese and the roasted potatoes with garlic and peppers, but anything works.

3. Add the chicken to some Mac and Cheese! Personally, I prefer the precooked side dishes you can find in the refrigerated section. (I had enough of the boxed variety back in college, thank you!) Add a cut up fresh tomato or a can of diced tomatoes.

4. Add chicken to a can of chili with or without beans, and serve over baked potatoes.

5. Make open faced chicken sandwiches: slice a loaf of French bread into thick slices. Top with chicken, cover with a can of chicken gravy. I also make instant mashed potatoes! (Don't laugh... my family loves instant mashed potatoes, and if you haven't tried the new ones that have come out lately, you should!)

6. Chicken omelets are great! Packed with protein, and easy to make. Add feta cheese, tomatoes, or even a can of sliced white potatoes!

7. Make a yummy chicken salad by tossing the chicken with greens, and adding dried cranberries, walnuts, sesame seeds, blue cheese crumbles, and apple slices.

8. Make your own chicken pot pie! Mix the chicken with canned chicken gravy and a can of cream of chicken soup. Add a can of peas and carrots, and a can of diced white potatoes. Pour into pie dish. Top with premade pie crust. Follow directions for baking the pie crust - this is your most critical ingredient. Usually plan on 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

9. Chicken flatbread! Buy the premade pizza or flatbread, and top with chicken, pizza sauce or diced tomatoes, and your choice of cheese. Add black olives, minced garlic, or anything you really like on your pizza and flatbreads. Follow directions on the flatbread package to cook.

10. Chicken and pasta is delicious, filling, and you can't go wrong with any age group with this one. I like to use either penne or rigatoni, but it really doesn't matter. Mix the pasta with olive oil, a little lemon, some minced garlic, salt and pepper, capers and whatever other seasonings your family really likes. Toss well. This can even be served as a cold pasta salad, too.

Do you have other chicken ideas you'd like to share? Post them on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BusyLivesKitchenTips!

Want more info, or perhaps you want to share the wealth? Order my paperback or Kindle Version of "Are You Kitchen Challenged" here: http://www.amazon.com/Are-You-Kitchen-Challenged-conquering/dp/1500458961/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415559973&sr=8-1&keywords=are+you+kitchen+challenged

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