Easy Meals: Southwest BBQ baked chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and spinach salad

When time is tight and you need to throw a quick meal together, it never hurts to get a little help from the grocery store. Besides time, another barrier to cooking meals at home is long recipes with too many ingredients. If you are looking for a simple dish on a weekday or something to prepare ahead for a busy week, try this simple and inexpensive meal.

Ingredients: Pre-seasoned chicken pieces, sweet potatoes, baby spinach, tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3 medium sweet potatoes at $0.99 per pound totaling $2.38
  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F.
  2. Wash any dirt off the skin of your sweet potatoes using cold water and dry. This is called clean eating :)

3. Dice potatoes into even pieces and spread on 12 X 16 rimmed sheet pan.

4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons (measured) extra virgin olive oil on potatoes. Add a a pinch or two of salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and toss together to coat. I had some fresh thyme lying around, so I chopped about 1 tablespoon and mixed that with the potatoes before putting in the oven on a middle rack.

5. Next, place your pre-seasoned chicken on a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I happened to find a good deal on chicken legs ($1.79/lb.) at Whole Foods. With poultry, I prefer dark meat over white meat because it has more flavor and is almost impossible to overcook.

If plain chicken is on sale, use it and season with your favorite spices.

6. Next, throw a quick salad together. Today, I used pre-washed spinach, which is also great to have on hand for sandwiches/wraps and veggie omelets. When possible, I like to buy tomatoes that come from Hoffstadt Farms in Kentwood, La. They are easy to find (Rouses, Robert Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Fresh Market), generally inexpensive, and consistently have good flavor and texture.

7. Place chicken in oven on a separate rack to bake. Rotate baking dish with chicken after about 15–20 minutes. At the same time, use some tongs to flip potatoes pieces so that both sides can develop a brown, crispy crust.

8. After about 45 minutes, check the temperature of the largest piece of chicken using a high quality digital instant read thermomoeter. I really like the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen® by Thermoworks. It has become one of the most used tools in my kitchen. You’re looking for a temperature reading of 165° F.

Just about there!

9. After the chicken has come to temperature and the sweet potaotes are browned, it’s time to plate! For the salad dressing, I like to keep it simple using a couple teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1–2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

I had some leftover pine nuts, so I decided to toast them and add to the salad for crunch.

This simple, nutritious meal can be thrown together last minute or made on the weekend to use for lunches throughout the week. It takes about 1 hour and easily makes 3-4 servings. Cost: $2.41. for 3 servings, $3.21 for 4 servings. It’s hard to beat that combination of taste, nutrition, and price!

Bon appétit!

Michael Sandoz is Registered Dietitian from New Orleans, Louisiana. He currently provides outpatient nutrition counseling at East Jefferson General Hospital and The Wellness Center at EJGH. For more information about Mike, click here.