How to meal prep chicken for the entire week, including an easy chicken breast recipe, all for under $5 per meal! Cook once and eat all week!
Alright, let me guess. You want to eat healthy, but every time you go to grab something from the fridge, nothing is ready to eat and you really, really, REALLY don’t feel like cooking a full healthy, well-balanced dinner.
If that sounds like you, I so feel you.
To be honest, I don’t really like cooking dinner at…dinner time. When I’m tired and hungry and just want sustenance that’s good for me, I usually don’t ALSO feel like cooking in that moment.
That’s what makes meal prep so super duper awesome. I choose the time and day I actually have energy and time and prep my meals ahead of time.
I know it’s cliche, but failing to plan really is planning to fail. By learning how to meal prep, you’re gonna make your life and healthy eating lifestyle SO MUCH EASIER.
How To Meal Prep Chicken
Okay, so how do we start to meal prep chicken? First, we need to decide on the chicken recipe. Because chicken breast is lower in fat and a great lean protein, I usually use chicken breast over chicken thigh in my meal prep chicken recipes.
The big trick with meal prepping chicken breast is to marinade it. Seriously. Take the 30 minutes it requires to infuse all that flavor into the chicken. Your chicken breast will wind up being so much more flavorful, tender, and juicy. All good things.
In this meal prep chicken recipe, I use my Cilantro Lime Chicken. You can grab the recipe here. If you’re looking for other great marinades for easy chicken recipes, I’ve got tons of them in this post right here for ya.
The next big tip for how to meal prep chicken breast is how to cook it. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of chewy, dry chicken in my meals. Just because it’s prepped ahead doesn’t mean it has to taste bad.
So, instead of dicing the chicken ahead of time and then cooking it, I cook it whole. This helps keep so much of the juices inside the chicken and keeps it from overcooking.
Once it’s cooked, I dice it into bite sized cubes. I do this because it will make it so much easier and quicker to reheat when it’s time to eat later. The worst is overcooking all the other food in the meal prep container just to get the chicken to heat through. Trust me on this one.
How To Save Time With Chicken Meal Prep
The whole point of meal prep is to take a little bit of time AHEAD of time to make it easier on you LATER.
Most people have one or two days each week where there is no work and the day is set aside to relax and catch up on errands. These are perfect days to add in your meal prep for the week ahead. The idea behind meal prep is to spend an hour or so, whatever you have, prepping out your meals so you have all your food prepped for the week ahead. Depending on your goals and schedule, you can meal prep your breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners — all of them or just a few, whatever helps you reach your goals.
Meal prep is only going to last for you if it feels manageable. If Sunday doesn’t work, split meal prep into two days. This will cut down on the session length and definitely preserve the quality of your food. Sunday and Wednesday are usually a good pair, but find any two days that work best for you. Many people find meal prep Sunday to be helpful and that’s what we do in our house as well. We mostly prep out our lunches and dinners for the week, but also add in prepped snacks as we need them.
If you’re going to be starting to meal prep consistently, then cutting out unnecessary hassles is essential! Make it easy, make it yours, and make it last. I use these awesome glass meal storage containers that you can buy on Amazon, or you could use tupperware – as long as it keeps food fresh, you can use it. I prefer the glass because it reheats well and, for whatever reason, makes me feel good when I’m eating my meal.
How Long Can You Keep Meal Prep in the Fridge?
If you are using meal prep containers and have stored your chicken meal prep well, these babies will last in the fridge for up to 7 days. Awesome, right? So you’ll have one of these amazingly healthy and delicious meals waiting for you al week!
If you have freezer-safe meal prep containers, you can also freeze these meals to have them store even longer. Frozen, they’ll save for about 3 months.
How To Reheat Chicken Meal Prep
When you’re ready to eat them, you can either let them thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes or reheat them while frozen for 4-5 minutes.
I also like to leave a wedge of lime for just a bit of extra juice on the chicken, just in case it dries out too much from reheating. Just remove the lime before reheating because eww.
Can You Eat Cold Cooked Chicken?
Yes! Dustin and I often will pack our meal prepped chicken into our cooler and bring it with us. You may not always have access to a microwave, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo your healthy lifestyle. As long as the chicken has been fully cooked and refrigerated appropriately, you can absolutely eat your cooked chicken cold.
FYI if you’re looking for a great on-the-go cooler that holds your meal prep containers, this one is what we use and it’s awesome!
Want More Easy Chicken Breast Recipes?
Okay, I hope you’ve now become convinced about how awesome meal prepped chicken can be and you can’t wait to get started figuring out how to meal prep chicken and incorporate it into your own healthy lifestyle. To get you started, here are some of my absolute favorite easy chicken breast recipes that are perfect for meal prep.
- Honey Mustard Chicken
- 7 Best Chicken Marinades
- Chicken Cauliflower Curry
- Chicken Cauliflower Fried Rice
- Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Quinoa Bowl
- Easy Chicken Picatta
- Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl
- Chicken Cobb Mason Jar Salad
- Healthy Baked Chicken Parmesan
Remember to cook them whole and dice them for easy reheating for best results!
What’s your favorite chicken recipe to use for meal prep? Share in the comments below!
How to Meal Prep – Chicken (7 Meals/Under $5)
- 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 limes, juiced (approx. 4 tbsp. juice)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 6 medium sweet potatoes, diced into cubes
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
In a large mixing bowl, add the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lime juice, ground cumin, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and fresh cilantro. Toss this all together to coat evenly. Then, top with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to marinate. (You could also place everything in a large sealable bag if you'd prefer.)
While the chicken is marinating, start on the sweet potatoes by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F and lining a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced sweet potatoes, coconut oil, raw honey, sea salt, and ground cinnamon and toss to coat evenly.
Spread the sweet potatoes out evenly over the prepared baking sheet and, when the oven is preheated, place into the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
To make our easy sautéed broccoli, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Once hot, add raw broccoli florets, followed by sea salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Toss to coat.
Cover the pan and cook 6-8 minutes, tossing regularly until the broccoli is almost tender and is bright green. (You can add a little low sodium chicken broth or water to help it along if you’d like.)
To cook the chicken, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and then transfer the cilantro lime marinated chicken into the hot pan, spaced evenly.
Cook 4-6 minutes per side, until well browned and fully cooked.
Remove from the heat and dice into cubes.
To assemble, I recommend using meal prep containers. Start by adding the diced chicken, followed by the sautéed broccoli, and then the sweet potatoes. Top everything off with a wedge of lime and you’re good to go.
This chicken meal prep will keep in the fridge all week and can be reheated in the microwave in just 2 minutes. Plus it freezes well and tastes delicious!
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