Meal Prep 101: Ready To Go Chicken Breast
I don't do nearly as much meal prep as I could and should but this is one that I always do without fail and it helps us out a ton during the week and it's so easy to quickly do while getting settled in after getting home from the grocery store.
I was finding that, since I store all my meat in the freezer, the defrosting process, while technically simple, was adding a lot of time to meal making. So I decided that, at the very least, if I prepped a large container of sliced chicken breast, I could have lunches and dinner made so much faster, even if I didn't prep the entire meal ahead of time. And you know what happens if you can have healthy foods at your fingertips when you want them? You're less likely to take down an entire bag of Doritos or pint of Ben & Jerry's simply because you were hungry and didn't have anything fast enough. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is good news for your waistline but, more imporantly, your overall health and wellness.
Here's my process:
I like to buy the organic, individually wrapped fresh chicken breasts from Trader Joe's, which usually come 4 or 5 in a package and are sold by weight so expect to pay anything from $12 to $19. If you're not sure what to buy organic and what you can save on, I always buy any meat or animal products organic, hormone-free, free-range, grass fed, local (if possible), etc. because--not to be graphic--but what an animal is injected with, medicated with, fed etc. goes to YOU when you eat it. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, you can be a little more flexible where you spend your dollars. I buy organic for produce that has a thin skin, is leafy, or is on the Dirty Dozen List
When I get home and put down the grocery bags, I immediately start preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. On a foil lined baking sheet, I spray coconut oil down for a non stick surface and start peeling apart the individual packet of chicken. The packages come apart nicely, which is awesome because you're less likely to get chicken on your hands this way. Drain the excess juices from the package without the breast falling out (hold tight!) Then slide it out onto the baking sheet.
When you've completed this process for all packages, I also like to lightly spray the chicken with a little coconut oil but that is optional. You can keep it simple and season with Himalayan salt and pepper and pop in them in the oven OR you can do what I do and season them all kinds of things:
**Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
Since these are the seasonings that I use in just about every dish I make. I think they're practically universal.
Put them in the oven and bake for 23-25 minutes at 400 degrees**
Using a meat thermometer, chicken should be an internal temperature of 165 decrees F. I let them cool on the stovetop for a little while so that I can handle the chicken as well as it won't create steam inside the storage container and make the chicken watery. I slice the chicken into small strips or cubes and put it directly into a glass storage container in the fridge. Use over salads for lunch, in your dinners or whenever you want a little protein on-the-go!
**I used to bake chicken at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, which is pretty standard for baked chicken breast but I feel like I get a jucier, less dried out product when I bake them at 400 degrees for 23--25 minutes. Here it is finished! Look at that!