I have figured out a way to improve my dinner time cooking process. I cook some things ahead of time such as chicken. I first mentioned this in a wall post on Facebook last week. My goal is to make future dinner prep faster and easier.
Cooking dinner used to be frustrating for me. Here’s what happens when I’m not prepared: It’s dinner time, I have no idea what to make and I have limited time to make it. Sound familiar?!
The obvious helpful suggestions is to do a weekly meal plan or freezer cooking.
This post is not about menu planning or full meal freezer cooking (maybe future post topics?). I do plan my weekly meals and usually base it on what meats I already have in the freezer. But if plans change or we feel like having a different meal, then I have the flexibility to change it. By having just the chicken and not a whole meal in the freezer, I have the option to make different meals. Having at least one part of the cooking process done makes it easier to throw a meal together.
This is what I general do. I purchase the value packs of boneless chicken breast. I usually buy 2 packs (at a time) which equal to about 10 pounds of chicken. I cut the chicken into pieces. I then measure the chicken by cups. I’ll pan fry about 2 or 3 cups of cut chicken at a time.
After the chicken has cooled, I’ll place the chicken in bags. I make sure to label the bags with the portion amount and the date I cooked the chicken.
My most recent chicken cooking marathon lasted about 2 hours and yielded nine bags of cooked chicken. That’s good for 9 meals. Tip: I was able to cook this much because I had 2 pans of chicken cooking at the same time.
Here was the breakdown:
2 bags of 3 cups of chicken
5 bags of 2 cups of chicken
2 bags of 1 cup of small diced chicken
= 9 bags of portioned chicken
I measure and portion the chicken because I do Weight Watchers. If you’re familiar with Weight Watchers, then you know it’s all about portions. I have recipes where I’ll use 2 cups of chicken, some 3 cups and one that needs only 1 cup.
Here are some examples of meals and recipes I use:
For 3 Cups of Chicken:
- Ginger-Peanut Chicken Salad Wraps
- White Bean Chicken Chili. Recipe uses turkey. I use chicken instead.
For 2 Cups of Chicken:
- Sweet Sour Chicken (from a cookbook)
- Lemon Chicken and Pasta (from the back of a pasta box)
- Easy Mexican Chicken and Beans
For 1 Cup of small diced Chicken:
A question on whether the chicken dries out was asked in the Facebook discussion. It was a great question and something I worried about when I first started doing this. I’ve been doing this type of batch meat cooking for over 2 years and never had a problem with dry chicken. Also, reader Jenn said she grills her chicken, cuts them and then freezes it. She said she also doesn’t have an issue with it.
So do you do anything similar? How do you improve your meal time cooking process?