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It's that time of year! The time everyone is on a new diet or meal plan, or even just trying to eat healthier! This means making a lot of your own meals and even meal prepping.
One of the easiest, most affordable, high protein and low calorie options is chicken. Not to mention it lasts up to 4 days in the refrigerator after cooking. So if done right, meal prepping chicken can save you a ton of time! Below we go through some tips to ensure your chicken comes out just right!
Tip 1: Not all chicken is created equal
The type of chicken you buy creates a difference in your meal prep tasting good come day 4. It is recommended that you use organic chicken; and preferably free range. It may be slightly more expensive, but it can make the difference between dry and tough chicken versus juicy and tender.
Tip 2: Air-Chilled Chicken
During the processing of being cut and packaged, chicken has to be cooled to a specific temperature due to food safety regulations. This can happen one of two ways. It can be put in a cold water immersion which will penetrate the chicken and dilute the flavor, or it can be cooled with purified air which saves the chicken's flavor!
Tip 3: Get the right cut!
If you are preparing a baked chicken dinner or a skillet chicken you should get a bone-in, skin-on chicken a majority of the time. The skin will crisp up to golden perfection and the bone will help the meat stay juicy! If you are watching your total fat intake you can simply remove the skin before eating.
For more traditional meal prep, it is best to purchase boneless, skinless chicken breast. May sound boring but the chicken skin will get soggy if you leave it in the fridge even just overnight, let alone 4 days. Not to mention, you may not want to have to crave your chicken at your desk and have to remove the skin and bone. White meat is also more versatile, it can be cooked one way and then thrown together with different ingredients to create something completely different! Grilled chicken breast can be used in a taco salad, Greek gyro bowl, or chicken BLT.
Tip 4: Find the smallest ones!
When buying your chicken breast the smaller the better because it will be more tender and flavorful!
Tip 5: Baking is king!
It is known the boneless, skinless chicken breast can be dry and tough. To prevent this try baking your chicken on a sheet tray with chopped veggies. As the veggies cook there water content will be released as steam, which will help keep the chicken tender. Get veggies that cook in about 30 minutes such as broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant.
The best way to do this is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the veggies and chicken in a few drops of olive oil, the juice of ½ a lemon or lime and season with salt and pepper. The acid from the lemon or lime will help to tenderize the meat. Place the tray in the oven and cook until roasted through or chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Allow the chicken to cool completely before packing away in airtight containers.