Well+Good’s Prep School series was created to help take the work out of meal prep. Each week, a healthy eating expert shares a plan to follow that details exactly what to buy, prep on Sunday, and how it can be used for a whole week of healthy dinners—all revolving around one superstar recipe. All July, we’re focusing on no-heat meals so that you won’t even have to turn the oven on at all Monday through Friday. This week, registered dietitian and meal prep expert Carrie Forrest, RD, shares her Instant Pot salsa chicken recipe and gives five delicious, healthy ways to reuse it all week.
Instant Pot obsession is real. The cooking tool boasts an impressive list of uses. It tenderizes food to the same perfection as a slow cooker in a mere fraction of the time, and also works as a rice cooker, egg boiler, yogurt maker, and on some models, an air-fryer. It’s truly the Swiss knife of meal prep. Another bonus to cooking with the Instant Pot is that it doesn’t heat up the kitchen the same way as the stove or oven does. As we move into July—one of the hottest months of the year—that’s definitely a perk.
Registered dietitian Carrie Forrest, RD is even more passionate about the Instant Pot than you are. No, for real: She literally wrote a book combining her passion for it with her passion for meal prep, aptly called Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot Cookbook ($12.99).
One of Forrest’s go-to meal prep recipes is her Instant Pot salsa chicken. She loves it particularly during the summer months, since the final product can be reworked into a whole range of completely different no-heat meals. “Meal prepping is the key to keeping me organized—and sane—during the week, and helps keep my schedule open for my creative endeavors,” Carrie says. “This recipe is one of my favorite meals to prep. It’s incredibly versatile and so satisfying and flavorful.”
Here, she shares her recipe with five ways to incorporate it into your Monday through Friday meals—no cooking required.
Instant Pot salsa chicken
Yields 6 servings
1. Pour the jar of salsa and water into the bottom of the stainless steel insert of a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
2. Add the chicken breasts to the pot, arranging them so they lay flat. It’s okay if they overlap each other.
3. Sprinkle the tops of the chicken with the salt, pepper, and cumin.
4. Lock on the lid and set the cooking time to 10 minutes at high pressure.
5. When the cooking time is complete, let the pressure come down naturally for about 10 minutes. Then, use the quick release to release any remaining pressure.
6. Remove the lid. Carefully pour the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Use tongs or two forks to shred the chicken.
7. Store the cooked shredded chicken in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
How to use your Instant Pot salsa chicken in a whole week’s worth of no-heat dinners:
Monday: Chicken tacos
You can’t have a whole week’s worth of salsa-flavored chicken prepped and not make tacos. Since the chicken is already cooked, this meal literally comes together within minutes. Simply pop your tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds (you can also microwave the salsa chicken, but you don’t have to), and then divide between them a serving of salsa chicken, shredded cheese, chopped avocado, and chopped tomato. Side of chips and guac absolutely encouraged.
Tuesday: Salsa chicken salad
This isn’t your mama’s chicken salad: the salsa gives it a whole new flavor profile. Toss romaine lettuce with a serving of salsa chicken, vinaigrette dressing, chopped avocado, and chopped tomato. This meal also tastes yummy with a serving of canned black beans. Top with crumbled tortilla chips for added crunch.
Wednesday: Stuffed avocado
We stuff peppers and potatoes, why not the beloved healthy fat? Cut a ripe avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop a spoonful of salsa chicken into the hollow left by the pit. With those two steps, dinner is served!
Thursday: Shredded chicken sandwiches
Sandwiches are always an easy dinner win—especially on nights when you *really* don’t want to wash even one dish. (Sooo every night?) Toast two slices of bread and scoop a serving of the salsa chicken on one of the slices. Then, lay a few slices of ripe avocado and/or cheddar cheese (your choice), sliced tomato, and chopped romaine lettuce. Place the other slice of bread on top and cut the sandwich in half.
Friday: Salsa chicken nachos
Nachos can 100 percent be a balanced dinner if you top them with protein and veggies. Spread your tortilla chips on a microwave-safe plate. Then, add a serving of your salsa chicken (there’s your protein) and a serving of cheddar cheese. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, or until the cheese is melted. Now it’s time to add your veggies. Shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapeno all make perfect toppings. Add a dollop of sour cream if desired to balance the heat of the salsa and jalapeno.
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