Learn how to meal prep chicken with these tips and recipes! You’ll never wonder what to do with a bulk package again with these chicken meal prep ideas.
In the past I didn’t know how to meal prep chicken, I’d just throw an entire bulk package in the freezer and then chisel out a piece when I’d need it. This was not a very efficient way of doing things and would always result in me wasting huge amounts of time or having to defrost and cook up all the chicken anyway.
Today, I am much wiser when in comes to purchasing chicken in bulk. Instead of throwing it in the freezer I make it a priority to meal prep all the chicken ahead of time so it is recipe ready.
Reasons I Love To Meal Prep Chicken
- Recipe ready. What’s the point of having all that meat if it is not going to be ready to eat when I need it. The last thing I want to do – or have time for – is to take frozen chicken out, try to thaw, and get it prepared in time before my family starts to revolt in hunger.
- You only need to handle raw chicken once. Prepping all my chicken ahead of time means I only need to handle raw slimy chicken a couple times of month. That makes me happy.
- Buy in bulk. This is a great way to save money while also preparing healthy chicken recipes ahead of time for easy dinners.
There are many different chicken meal prep ideas and it’ll depend on what you purchase and what you want use it for.
Before I jump into how to meal prep chicken I just want to mention where I purchase bulk organic and natural chicken from.
- I live in an area where I have access to high quality meats. I can get big packages of natural (and sometimes organic) chicken from BJ’s Wholesale and Wegmans. Sometimes I go to Whole Foods.
- Also, I get a box of meats every 2 months from Butcher Box which is a meat delivery subscription company. I thought the meats in this box were outstanding. If high quality meats are a priority for you, and you don’t have access to many meat sources, then definitely check Butcher Box out. You can read my full Butcher Box review for more info.
Chicken Meal Prep Ideas
Below are ways that I prep a large package of chicken breasts for the freezer. Keep in mind that it will be helpful to have all of this planned out before you get home with the chicken just in case there are other ingredients you need to purchase.
Throwing chicken breasts into a freezer bag with a marinade is one of the easiest ways to get chicken prepped and in the freezer quick. I have used all kinds of marinades -including barbecue sauce and salad dressing- and have had luck every time.
The only trick is you need to remember to take it out of the freezer 1-2 days before hand so it has enough time to thaw. Chicken marinade recipes gives a list of marinades I use regularly.
This means cooking the chicken as part of a complete meal prior to going into the freezer. When you are ready the meal only needs to be heated up in the oven, microwave, or on the stove. I try to thaw my meals at least a little ahead of time because it reduces the cooking time. However, if you forget no problem because most of time they can go straight from freezer to oven, stove, or crockpot. Some of my favorite complete chicken freezer meals are chicken quesadillas or chicken broccoli bake.
Whether it be simple crockpot shredded chicken or Mexican shredded chicken I always have portioned out packages of this versatile meal starter in my freezer.
Shredded chicken freezes great and reheats quickly to be use in a variety of recipes.
I use shredded chicken in soups, wraps, sandwiches, and casseroles. Along with marinades this is my go to way to prep chicken if I don’t have specific recipes in mind.
See all of my shredded chicken recipes.
If you would like cooked chicken (other than shredded) available for wraps, salads, and other quick recipes then having cooked breaded chicken in your freezer will be helpful.
It thaws quickly and warms up nice in the microwave. Some people have asked me about it drying out but I never had that experience – it always tasted great to me.
Separated raw chicken
If all else fails then at the very least trim and freeze the chicken in portions. Then all you have to do is take out what you need for the recipe without having to chisel apart the hunk of chicken. This little step will save you tons of time and frustration – believe me I know.
The thing to remember is that chicken should never go into your freezer without having a future purpose. The last thing you want to do on a busy night is take out a package of frozen unprepared chicken.
Trust me, having these chicken meal prep ideas will make weeknights go much smoother. So next time you pick up a bulk package of chicken take some time to get it all prepped before throwing in the freezer. You will thank me later.
See all of my healthy chicken recipes.
Phyllis Parker-hinkle says
These are great ideas. Thanks. I have a tip to share. Put your boneless cooked chicken breasts in a mixer bowl. In less than a minute, my mixer has shredded all the chicken. No more greasy fingers.
How do you cook the chicken to shred up? Slow cooker or boil? What do you use for liquid in the slow cooker? Chicken broth?
Tammy Kresge says
slow cooker and I use water.
I also cook chicken this way. Just want to add a quick tip for shredding. Use a mixer when the chicken is hot in the slow cooker. It shreds it up really fast!
Great ideas – I love freezing chicken in a marinade. I also pre-prep other meats i.e. mix up a double batch of burgers and freeze half on parchment or in a baggie, buy a full pork loin and cut one half into chops to freeze and pop the other half into the slow cooker with bbq sauce for pulled pork…
I buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs at Costco. I marinate them in 2 or 3 different marinades and then grill them all at once. Then I freeze them in family portion sizes to use later. I find that the thighs don’t dry out when reheating like the breasts sometimes do.
Great ideas for the chicken but I have a question. After you freeze them (cooked and/or raw) how long can they stay in the freezer? Is there a recommended time limit? I always seem to miss a package or two of frozen hamburger or chicken.
Jen Lewis says
Great post! I love your recipe links! I precook a large pkg of ground beef with onions, garlic and spices every two weeks and place it in the freezer in 2 cup portions which I find helps in future meals. ie: spaghetti,chili, goulash, tacos, etc, etc. I also like to make huge pots of chili or spaghetti sauce and portion them out in freezer bags (my son loves chili)!
THANKS SO MUCH FOR THESE SUGGESTIONS! I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THEM!
Barbara Livieri says
I normally place all of my chicken breasts on a cookie sheet or pan and spray a little olive oil and salt & pepper them. Bake till just done. About 20-30 minutes at 350. Then I let cool and place in individual baggies then all into one big freezer bag then I toss in the freezer. I take a frozen piece out at night for the next day’s lunch or in the morning for that night’s dinner. I just slice and reheat in microwave with what ever sauce I like. Or I chunk up and reheat with black beans brown microwavable rice salsa or tomato product and a little cheese. Soo good!
Bevin Barnhart says
I hadn’t even thought of freezing the chicken after I cook it. doh! Thanks! And this is giving me ideas to do different flavors at once and then freezing instead of one kind. Brilliant!
I’m so excited we ordered upright freezer this weekend so I can start making make time and the prep time for fast and now a family of four we will need the freezer room . So thank you for having your site
Lynn Weatherman Lemon says
So glad I saw this today. I have been wanting to start some things for the freezer to save time & we eat a lot of chicken. I also do not like to mess with raw chicken but this is perfect especially shredding for casseroles. Thanks so much for sharing!
Awesome post! I am about to go to a full time schedule, which means less time for weeknight cooking. I’m on a mission to find ways to do freezer meals and things like that, and I found this post to be very helpful!
Great ideas for making mealtime prep quicker and easier, especially after a full day of work away from home!!
[email protected] says
This is great advice! Thanks a lot for sharing.