Rotisserie chickens are my #1 go-to for quick “homemade” healthy meals. I love home-cooking, but I rarely have the time to cook from scratch. Instead, I am a frequent purchaser of rotisserie chickens.

I save time. I save money. And, there is no compromise when it comes to taste. For me, just about any dish that uses chicken can be made faster with a rotisserie chicken.

Save on Time and Money, not Taste
Clearly, I am not alone. According to the National Chicken Council, retail outlets were expected to sell 700 million rotisserie chickens last year. Their reasoning is that rotisserie chickens are often lower in price than raw whole chickens. My reasoning is that they make cooking dinner so easy and so delicious.

Here are some of my favorite ways to transform the ready-to-eat chicken into an almost homemade dish.

Anything Mexican
Just shred the chicken and mix it with some taco seasonings. Rotisserie chicken is a versatile meat filling for burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and tacos. Or, skip the seasoning and add your favorite salsa. Believe it or not, you can even use rotisserie chicken to make somewhat healthy enchiladas. Corn tortillas + shredded chicken breast make a great low-calorie ingredient base and an easy one too!

Cut up rotisserie chicken works well in just about any pasta dish. If you’re treating yourself with a heavier sauce, go big on the chicken and cut down on the pasta proportions. By filling up on the lean protein you’ll be able to cut down on the pasta and save your calories for the flavorful sauce.

Throw a bunch of veggies in a wok with a whole shredded chicken and some water chestnuts, soy sauce and red chili paste. That’s it. Serve it over rice and it’s a total meal in one. How many times can you eat chicken and rice and still keep your sanity? My trick is to switch it up a little each time I have it. For example, stewed tomatoes are my new flavor topper. They add more depth and moisture to each bite!

Comfort Food
Why not include rotisserie chicken when you’re giving a recipe a healthy makeover? It so easy to include it in a lighter, quicker version of Chicken Pot Pie. My other trick with this dish? Limit the crust to the top only. Yes, those are crescent rolls (reduced fat version) draped over the ramekins.

Craving just out of the oven pizza? When you make it yourself at home you can really control the toppings. Rotisserie chicken is one of the healthiest proteins you can pick. There are also lighter crust options if you prefer. Try brushing olive oil and a light layer of BBQ sauce on a whole grain tortilla. Then top it with sliced chicken breast, mozzarella cheese, honey and basil. Slide it into a 450 degrees oven for about 10 minutes.

Who doesn’t like a good chicken noodle soup? It can be one of the lightest soups out there, but it can also be void of nutritional value. Most restaurants make their version full of noodles and broth with not much chicken or veggies. Here’s my own take: chop up as many veggies as possible. I like to use carrots, onions, garlic, celery, spinach and zucchini and an entire shredded rotisserie chicken. Sometimes I also add a few whole grain noodles. You don’t need many because the other stuff is so hearty and filling.

No excuses! Just because you may not be cooking doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat like you are. It’s easy to add rotisserie chicken and make a tasty salad with whatever favorite ingredients you have on-hand. Looking for a heartier salad? Add your favorite cheese and nuts. Goat cheese and walnuts are one of my favorite combinations.

Lunch is packed! Chicken salad is great to bring for work. You can wrap it up in whole grain tortillas or just eat it with a fork. It’s easy to make and tasty with rotisserie chicken. Try a light coat of mayo and load up on veggies like chopped celery, onion and tomatoes. Or, for a change of pace, try making your chicken salad with red grapes.