5 Important Things to Do with Your Chicken When You Get Home from the Grocery Store

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Toss a few packages of chicken in your shopping cart at the grocery store and you’re looking at endless dinner possibilities. While you may simply drop those packages into the refrigerator or freezer when you walk through the door and consider things set, if you take a few minutes to do some extra things, you’ll be rewarded come mealtime.

Here are five things to do every time you bring chicken home.

1. Pre-cut it.

Whether you bought a whole chicken that you’re planning to break down into pieces or a pound or two of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, there may be a little cutting you need to do. Cut the whole chicken into pieces or cut the breasts into cubes, if you’re planning on cooking up a stir-fry or making a slow cooker meal during the week.

2. Portion it out.

Perhaps the grocery store had a sale on chicken thighs and you made the most of it. Since you’ll likely not be cooking all 16 thighs are once, divide them up. Even the usual package of four is often too much for couples, so it makes sense to portion out the chicken.

(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

3. Marinate it.

If you’re not already marinating your chicken in advance, now is the time to start. This trick is especially useful if you’re freezing it, since once you defrost the meat, it will be completely ready to go, whether you’re tossing it on the grill or baking it.

4. Label it.

Whether your chicken is going in the refrigerator or freezer, it’s smart to label it with the contents and the date purchased. That of course is useful in the freezer when it becomes an unrecognizable icy block, but it’s also helpful in the fridge, as chicken only has a short shelf life and sometimes we lose track of days.

5. Toss it in the fridge or freezer.

Finally, toss the chicken into the fridge or freezer. If you’re cooking the chicken within the next day or two, it will be fine in the refrigerator. Otherwise, store it in the freezer. If my week’s meal plan isn’t completely carved out, I always err on the side of caution and freeze the meat, just so I am not scrambling to cook it before it spoils. Plus, if I do decide to cook it in two days, it’s easy enough to quickly (and safely) defrost it.

Do you do anything in particular with your chicken when you bring it home from the grocery store?