Ultimate Guide for Chicken Meal Prep (For Beginners)

Follow this guide for chicken meal preps that are always easy but never boring!
Easy Chicken Meal prep guide

For many avid gym goers and health enthusiasts across the world, chicken is a meal prep staple ingredient.

Why is it such a popular choice? Aside from being an awesome source of recovery-promoting lean protein and important micronutrients, it might just be one of the most versatile foods on the planet.

The possibilities are almost endless when you’re meal prepping with chicken, and today we’re going to dig into some of our favorite ways to do exactly that.

Buckle up and get ready to take your chicken meal prep game to the next level!

Table of Contents
The Nutrition of Chicken
3 Simple Ways to Cook Chicken
What to Prep Chicken with for a Balanced Meal
4 Tips for Keeping Your Chicken Juicy
How to Reheat Your Chicken Meal Prep
Top Tips for Chicken Safety
How to Maximize Your Chicken Scraps (+ Save Money)

The Nutrition of Chicken

As we already touched on above, chicken is a great source of protein. It contains the full spectrum of essential amino acids the body uses to repair muscles and connective tissues after exercise, allowing you to recover faster and come back stronger. All great news.

Protein also gets plus points because it helps with satiety – the feeling of fullness. Research suggests that simply adding protein to your dish reduces the likelihood of you overeating in subsequent meals, making it much easier to keep that waistline in check.

Which part of the chicken is best?

The white meat of the bird tends to be the go-to choice for most people – particularly the breast. It’s usually the leanest option, containing less saturated fat that other parts, and looks nice and clean on Instagram.

The dark meat is still fair game though!

In some ways, it’s actually nutritionally superior, as it often contains higher concentrations of iron, zinc, and B-vitamins. It does, however, have a higher fat and calorie content, which is something to consider if weight loss is your goal. Keeping the skin on will also add more calories to your meal (although it tastes delicious).

3 Simple Ways to Cook Chicken

The Crock-Pot

Crock-Pot slow cooker for chicken meal prep

The crock-pot is an absolute lifesaver if you’re looking to batch cook healthy, delicious meals without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

All you have to do is assemble your ingredients, throw them in the slow cooker, flick the switch and leave them to simmer. Sure, each meal can take between 4-10 hours to cook, but once all the prep work is done, there’s no more effort on your part.

Instead, you can spend your day living life to the fullest, and come back to a hearty meal when you need to refuel.

Crock-Pot Recipes

The Oven

Oven is a great tool for chicken meal prep

The humble oven is a great option if you want to bake your chicken in bulk, but not wait around as long as the crockpot.

Meals can take anywhere between half an hour to a few hours to cook, depending on whether you’re cooking the whole bird or in parts (and the portion size).

Using an oven is super simple, but requires a few more steps than slow-cooking. You’ll need to check the temperature required for the specific recipe and make sure you preheat the oven for 10-15 minutes prior to cooking.

A few basic bits of kit can come in handy too, including baking trays and a decent sized roasting tin. Metal or glass options can work well – just make sure you get one deep and wide enough to fit in a whole chicken if you decide to bulk cook!

Oven Recipes

The Stove

Chicken breasts cooking on stove top for meal prep

The stovetop gets a gold star for versatility. If you’re the type of person who likes to get hands-on and creative in the kitchen, it’s a great way to experiment with a variety of different recipes.

It’s also super speedy – meals can take between 20 mins to a few hours to prep, depending on whether you’re frying, broiling or boiling your chicken in a sauce.

A large skillet or pot is essential for batch-cooking large chicken recipes, and a solid frying pan can also come in handy for smaller dishes.

Stove Recipes

What to Prep with Chicken for a Balanced Meal

You’re fully aware that chicken is a great source of protein. That’s something we’ve definitely established.

But whilst protein is important, it’s also crucial that we don’t forget the other food groups. Our modern-day fitness industry will have you believe that protein is the number one most important thing when it comes to eating well and achieving your fitness goals, but that’s not necessarily the case…

As a general rule of thumb, to maximize the health benefits of your chicken meal prep, aim to break your dishes down into:

  • ¼ of the container with chicken
  • ¼ with starchy vegetables or whole grains
  • ½ non-starchy vegetables
  • A piece of fruit for dessert
Chicken meal prep portions of protein, non starchy vegetables, and whole grains.

You’ll notice that some of the recipes included in our ultimate chicken meal prep guide are accompanied by some of these additional components, such as rice and veggies. If you’re a complete meal prep beginner wondering how the heck you’re supposed to cook these non-chicken ingredients, fear not!

Check out the resources below to learn how to cook the basics. In no time, you’ll be able to turn these foods into super tasty sides:

4 Tips for Keeping Your Chicken Juicy

You’ve spent precious time and energy preparing one of the above recipes. You’ve been looking forward to dinner for hours, but as you tuck into the first bite, you find the chicken is bone dry and tasteless.

A surefire way to put a downer on mealtimes…

Perfecting the juiciness of your chicken is a key component to ensuring a satisfying, tasty result. Keep the following tips in mind to get exactly that:

  • Cover with Aluminum Foil – If you’re baking your chicken in the oven, cover the meat with aluminium foil for around 10 minutes before it’s finished. This shields the meat from excess moisture loss, keeping the juices under wraps.
  • Give it a Beating – It may sound a little medieval, but pounding your chicken with a mallet until it’s significantly reduced in thickness helps to break down the ‘toughness’, reducing cook time and maximizing juiciness.
  • Cook in a Deep Pan – A deeper pan cooks chicken at a more consistent temperature – an important factor in retaining juices. The deeper sides also prevent moisture loss as the meat is exposed to less air.
  • Use a Marinade – A marinade gives additional moisture to the chicken as it cooks, ensuring it’s super juicy, not to mention, flavorsome. Try one of our 5 recommended marinades below to get you started.

5 Incredible Chicken Marinades

A well-executed marinade not only adds an incredible succulence to your chicken, but is also a great way to mix up flavors and bring some excitement to your palate.

Let your chicken soak up one of these super simple, yet super tasty, marinades the next time you get meal prepping:

How to Reheat Your Chicken Meal Prep

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cold cut of meat. However, some meals can be greatly enhanced when heated correctly.

These simple tips offer foolproof solutions to perfectly warm through your prepped chicken (without drying it out). Make sure your chicken is defrosted before reheating to reduce moisture loss.

  • Stove Top – Heat your pan to a low/medium temperature with 1 tbsp. of liquid – think oil, broth or even plain water. Add the chicken and turn often, removing from the heat when warmed to your preference.
  • Microwave – Place your chicken on a microwaveable plate and cover with a damp cloth and a microwavable cover. Heat in 1-minute increments until thoroughly warmed, turning the chicken over frequently.
  • Oven – Place your chicken in an ovenproof dish, adding a few tablespoons of water or broth. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for around 5-10 minutes in an oven that’s been preheated to around 450°F.

Top Tips For Chicken Safety

Use a meat thermometer for chicken safety

Like many foods, there are certain protocols to follow when preparing chicken. Stick to these hygiene practices to minimize the risk of food poisoning and contamination:

  • Don’t wash chicken – Contrary to popular belief, washing raw meat is a quick way to spread bacteria to other surfaces and utensils in your kitchen.
  • Prepare separate to vegetables – Use a separate chopping board for cutting and preparing raw meats and wash thoroughly in warm water after use.
  • Cook thoroughly – Under-cooked chicken is a common cause of food poisoning. A thermometer is a useful tool to keep on hand when cooking meats to ensure the correct bacteria-killing temperatures have been reached. Chicken should reach an internal temperature of at least 165 °F (73.9 °C).
  • Store appropriately – Raw chicken should never be left unrefrigerated for more than 30 minutes. Cooked leftovers should be chilled within 2 hours to prevent the growth of bacteria.

How to Maximize Your Chicken Scraps (+ Save Money)

Chicken soup

Whole chicken recipes are hands down the best way to go if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck. That is, you get much more meat for your money, compared to buying pre-cut chicken pieces like the legs or breast.

But it goes even deeper than that…

With a little bit of lateral thinking, you can make your chicken go even further and extract every last morsel of nutrition.

Here’s how:

  • Use those scraps. Don’t stop after using the main cuts of meat. You can continue carving the scraps off the bone and use them in a casserole or hearty chicken soup.
  • Make chicken bone broth. After you’ve taken all the meat you can, boil up the carcass for a few hours in water along with salt, pepper and vegetable scraps to make a bone broth or chicken stock – a great base for soups and winter stews.

Make Your Chicken Meal Prep Work For You!

Now it’s over to you!

You’re armed with all the tips, hacks and chicken-packed recipes you can handle – now’s your chance to start putting the above into action.

Have fun, get creative, and let us know which delicious dish you’re going to try first!

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