How to meal prep chicken: easy meals in minutes 

Learn about methods of meal-prepping chicken that is beyond just using chicken breasts! Get a simple, nourishing meal on the table in the easiest way possible with these three meal prep hacks! 

Nearly all top-ranking blog posts will suggest meal prepping with boneless skinless chicken breasts. While those are a great way to do some meal prepping, the result is often dry and tough due to using a cut of meat with no bone and no skin. Boneless skinless cuts of meat are also often the most expensive and least versatile cut of meat– so we are here to showcase ways to make the most of whatever chicken you have and all the different ways they can be prepped for a quick, easy, and healthy meal any time of day!  

Recipes using pre-cooked chicken

Using pre-cooked chicken for meals is one of our family’s favorite meal prep hacks for a busy week! Knowing how to use up the leftovers in a new meal not only cuts back on food waste but also saves you time and money! This is also a great way to use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to cut back on cooking time in the kitchen and have minimal prep. Pre-cooked chicken is great for use in stir-fries, casseroles, or soups. Look for specific recipes that call for cooked chicken, or just simply skip the step of cooking the chicken in the recipe and add in the pre-cooked chicken. 

Here are some recipes for our favorite ways to use pre-cooked chicken:

Quick Asian Sugar Snap Peas and Chicken

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (skip cooking the chicken and use the pre-cooked chicken instead!)

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Tortilla Soup

How much chicken should I meal prep?

When making chicken ahead of time for your weekly meal preps, it can be hard to determine how much to make. An easy way to figure out the amount of chicken to make, use the simple formula below:

One serving of chicken is 3 oz per adult. 1 pound of chicken makes 4 servings. 

To figure for the entire week, just multiply 3 oz for every serving you need! See the tips below on how to store cooked chicken. 

Method #1: Using a whole chicken 

This is the cooking method we use for the best results! It is the best way to create juicy and delicious chicken, and you can use it for 3 days in 3 different ways! The first day will take longer in the kitchen, but then the following days you can have dinner ready in 10-15 minutes! 

Day 1: Roast the whole chicken (or smoke it!), see our blog post for step-by-step instructions! Then serve with roasted veggies and sweet potatoes on the side, or anything else your family loves, for a full meal. This step will take a little more time in the kitchen to prep and cook the whole chicken, but then it will save you lots of time in the day couple of days to come! When roasting a whole chicken to use for multiple meals, I recommend that you keep the seasoning very simple. I like to just use salt and pepper so that way the chicken is more versatile for the upcoming meals. 

Day 2: The next day, take the remaining chicken off the bone and shred it. (Make sure to keep the bones to make broth!) Use half of this leftover chicken to create something such as chicken quesadillas, tacos, or BBQ chicken sandwiches. We love to add different sauces or seasonings to the chicken to make it feel like a completely different meal. 

Day 3: The last thing you will do is you will use the rest of the leftover chicken to create chicken soup. Use the bones from the whole chicken to make chicken bone broth to cut back on food waste and save money. Plus bone broth has amazing health and healing properties! Use our recipe here to make it homemade.  Use the last of the chicken to make your favorite soup such as chicken noodle soup, chicken and dumplings, or chicken and rice soup. 

Method #2 Frozen or canned chicken 

I love to have frozen and canned chicken on hand so that I always have an easy protein to whip up a quick meal. If there’s ever a day we won’t eat leftover chicken, such as on day 2 or 3 in the previous example, throw the shredded meat into a freezer bag for another meal in the future. This makes sure meat doesn’t spoil and saves time on another day. I’ll toss the meat frozen into a soup or casserole to whip up a quick weeknight meal! 

Canned chicken is another great meal prep hack for a busy night! Having canned chicken on the shelf (store-bought or homemade) allows us to whip up meals such as chicken salad, or easy chicken wraps quickly. If you aren’t comfortable with canning chicken, you can enroll in our online course below or visit this link to learn how

Our favorite ways to use frozen or canned chicken:



Chicken Salad

Chicken Wraps (Caesar or buffalo chicken are great options!)

Method #3 Prep as a meal 

A meal prep secret weapon that I love to use is to prep an entire meal in a bag that is ready to cook. All you need to do is add your raw chicken, vegetables, and seasoning into a large freezer bag to store in the fridge. Then, on the day that you are ready to cook it you just toss it in the crockpot or on a sheet pan, and then you have whipped up a home-cooked meal with no time in the kitchen! 

You can also make a big batch of these meals in freezer bags and then freeze them so that you always have an easy meal ready to go! Just simply remove them from the freezer the night before and then pop them in the slow cooker the next morning. 

As a bonus, many of these recipes can be made in a pressure cooker for an even quicker meal! 

Meal in a bag recipe ideas:

Fajitas in a bag recipe

Roundup of 31 chicken crockpot recipes 

Save even more time on your meal prep

To save even more time on your weekly meal prep, our friend Lyndsy over at Chilled made a Meal Planning bundle that has over 50 of her delicious meals in it and they are all so good! There are over 20 with chicken, so give them a try! She also creates freezer meals that are shipped to your house. If you decide to stock up on her meals, use the code PLEASANTGROVEHOMESTEAD for 20$ off when you spend $80 but if you plan to download her meal guide it’s only $37! 

Other methods to meal prep chicken 

There are a lot of different methods of cooking chicken such as oven-roasted or in an air fryer, but my favorite way is to simply cook chicken breasts in an instant pot and shred them with two forks. Or, use a slow cooker for the same results! I also find this to be the best option when making a big batch of chicken using a lot of chicken breasts to stock up my freezer or meal prep for the week. And make sure to check out our roundup of our favorite kitchen utensils for our recommendation for an instant pot! 

How to store cooked chicken

When storing cooked chicken in the fridge, make sure to use an airtight container to keep it as fresh as possible. According to the USDA, you can safely eat cooked chicken for 3-4 days after cooking it and storing it properly. After that mark, or if you want to store for more long-term storage, pop the shredded chicken into freezer bags and store it in the freezer! Using a freezer bag will help prevent freezer burn and it will be ready for you whenever you need it. 

We hope you feel inspired to use some of these meal prep chicken recipes in your kitchen! Chicken is such a versatile protein and there are so many different ways to make it work for your family. If you are interested in purchasing chicken from our farm, you can visit the link below to check out our farm store! Want to learn more about in raising your own chicken for protein? Visit our blog posts here!

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