Even if I go into the week with a meal plan that's looking a little shaky (it happens sometimes!), I am always totally certain there will be one (okay, probably two!) chicken dinners spaced throughout the week ahead. And with that in mind, one of the most invaluable parts of my Sunday meal prep is cooking a batch of chicken for the week ahead.
With most of the heavy lifting done, those breasts or thighs can be quickly and easily repurposed into weeknight dinners. Here are five versatile ways to prep chicken for the week ahead, plus smart ideas for how to turn it into dinner.
1. Slow-Cooked & Shredded
Add this nearly hands-off task to your Sunday meal prep and you will be richly rewarded, reaping the benefits for days to come. All you need are boneless, skinless chicken breasts and your choice of chicken stock or water. It's easiest to shred the chicken as soon as it's done cooking. You'll be left with a pile of tender, juicy meat to use for tacos, grain bowls, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and more.
Recipes That Use Shredded Chicken
2. Poached on the Stovetop
Poaching is a method that delivers reliably juicy and tender meat every time. And a great batch of poached chicken requires no more than some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a saucepan, and some water. That's it. Give it an extra punch of flavor by swapping some or all of the water for stock (or even some beer or wine) or infusing flavor by adding aromatics like smashed garlic, ginger, herb stems, citrus peels, or peppercorns to the pot.
Make it: How To Poach Chicken Breasts
Recipes That Use Poached Chicken
Cook a roasted chicken during your weekend meal prep and you'll get quite a few meals from it in the days to come. Of course you can keep it classic by eating your favorite cut blanketed with a simple gravy, but that is just the beginning.
Make it: How To Roast the Perfect Chicken
Recipes That Use Roast Chicken
4. Seared on the Stovetop
Pan-seared chicken breast, cooked in a little oil with salt and pepper and finished with a generous knob of butter, is always a nice thing to have waiting for you in the fridge. It gets extra flavors from those nicely browned edges and is just as welcome served with steamed vegetables as it is atop creamy Alfredo pasta.
Recipes That Use Seared Chicken
5. Oven-Baked Chicken Thighs
It is always a good idea to cook up a batch of budget-friendly boneless, skinless chicken thighs before heading into the week. Because chicken thighs pack some extra fat, they not only deliver a ton of flavor, but also reheat well without drying out. Pair them with any kind of sauce, add to soup or stew, or place them atop a dinner salad.