Weekend Food Prep: A step-by-step guide to making boatloads of shredded chicken

Like a lot of bros, I eat a lot of chicken breast. It’s a versatile protein source, and when I buy it as a family pack of boneless, skinless breasts, relatively cheap per serving. I always have some on hand in the freezer (of course!), for a last-minute protein source for lunches, snacks or quick dinners. Take the time to prep it in advance, and you need never be without a healthy protein option for meals.

Step one. Place the chicken breasts in a slow cooker (or onto a rimmed baking sheet, no need to oil it). I don’t add any liquid to the slow cooker since the breasts exude so much liquid as they cook. You could flavor it, but I have found the flavorings get really watered down, so my preference is to cook it plain and add flavorings at mealtime.

Image description: Chicken breasts inside a slow-cooker. You can see through the clear lid which has many droplets of steam condensing inside it.

Step two. Cook on the low setting of your slow-cooker for 8 or so hours, on high for about 4 hours, until all the chicken is opaque and falling apart. Don’t open the lid, if you can help it, as it lets out the heat and takes longer to cook. (For the oven, bake at 350oF until cooked through, about 165oF on a thermometer, 30-40 minutes.)

Step three. Remove the liquid. You can keep it and use it as a base for soups or to cook grains in and give them more flavor.

Image description: A baking pan with chunks of chicken breast spread out upon it.

Step four. Chop or shred the chicken. I place it on a baking sheet lined in plastic wrap to make clean-up easier.

Step five. Freeze until solid then move to a reusable container. I usually use plastic zipper bags which I clean and reuse for this purpose. The reason I freeze it and then put it into it’s final container is this allows the chicken pieces to not freeze together into a big lump. It makes it much easier to take out and use only as much as you want and leave the rest frozen.

Photo description: A cookie sheet with diced, cooked chicken breasts. They have been frozen and are ready to use or store in the freezer.

Step six. When you’re ready to use the chicken, it thaws in the fridge overnight or you can microwave a serving at a time in about a minute and a half. When I’m using it to prep lunches for the week, I don’t bother to thaw it, I just throw it into the bowl with everything else and let it thaw naturally in the fridge over the next few days.

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