This week’s recipes focus on chicken. Even though we are blessed to have a chest freezer full of beef and pork, I enjoy turning to chicken at least once a week, sometimes more.

For convenience, in winter, I most often cook with chicken breasts. I buy them in bulk and freeze them in labeled freezer bags in quantities appropriate for our family.

I thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then cook them in the slow cooker, Instant Pot or oven depending on the day’s schedule. I also like to use them to prepare shredded chicken in advance and freeze it. This shredded chicken can be quickly used in soups, sandwiches, casseroles, tacos or wraps.

I prepare the shredded chicken with limited seasonings so I can further season it to suit the recipe I’m preparing. For example, I can easily add buffalo sauce for a spicy chicken wrap, barbecue sauce for sandwiches or mix in salsa for tacos.

To prepare shredded chicken in advance, put about four large chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour a cup of chicken broth over the chicken and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, a teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of onion powder.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Use chicken right away or allow it to cool and portion it into zip-top baggies and freeze for up to two months.

Sheet pan recipes are also popular in our family for preparing chicken breasts. With sheet pan cooking, we incorporate cut up chicken breasts with our favorite vegetables, season them and roast them all together on a sheet pan at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. We like to serve it with rice for a healthier meal. It is also a great technique for meal prepping.

With winter holding on tight to the Upper Midwest, chicken soup or even a white chicken chili is an appropriate, comforting option. The possibilities are endless. Take a day (or two) this week to enjoy chicken in any number of ways.

Janelle Thomas can be reached at