Fill Your Freezer with 24 Meals
This weekend I’ll be picking up a huge order of chicken…40 pounds! I’ve been busy this week picking up some supplies and planning a “Freezer Prep Menu” for all of this chicken. This is a LOT of chicken and I knew that I needed to get my act together before it arrives. I’m excited to prepare 24 chicken meals for my freezer!
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED
Freezer Bags – I prefer the Hefty slider bags because they are so much easier to close when you’re working fast.
Baggy Rack – YES YES YES!! See those little green plastic thingies? They are going to be your new best friend! You’ll thank me later! I usually use a big cup or a food storage container to hold up my baggies. It never worked perfectly, but these Baggy racks are amazing!! They are going to be super helpful for this project! Ok now let’s get to work…
Gloves: I have a few friends that get pretty grossed out when working with raw chicken. If you get a little squeamish pick up some gloves to keep the slimy-chicken off your hands. I found these latex-free (I’m allergic) gloves that will work great!
Good Quality Knives – a sharp knife is your friend, especially when you’ll be cutting lots of slippery chicken, using a dull knife can be very dangerous, so be sure to use your sharpest knife. I have and swear by this J.A. Henckles 8″ Chef’s Knife. It’s one of the best!
Cutting Board – Make sure you have a good quality, large, cutting board. Plastic Boards are the safest to use when dealing with raw chicken and I love the OXO Good Grips Cutting board because they are large and have a nice grip to the bottom so it won’t slide around on your counters when cutting.
Measuring Spoons & Cups – I’m a little old fashioned and love good stainless steel measuring spoons and cups. I love this set of measuring spoons because they will fit into most jars so you’re not spilling spices all over the counter! I’ve had my set of stainless steel measuring cups for over 12 years and they are in perfect condition. To measure liquids I use a simple Pyrex glass measuring cups.
How to prepare freezer meals from Chicken Breast
With so much chicken arriving, I knew that I had to divide it up to stay organized and get it done quickly.
I’m dividing my 40 lbs into 3 groups:
- 10 lbs Cooked Chicken
- 10 lbs Unseasoned/Uncooked Chicken for the Freezer
- 20 lbs Easy Chicken Meals
I should end up with at least 24 meals after just about an hour or two of work! Plus, purchasing my chicken in bulk saved us lots of money!
10 lbs – Cooked Chicken
5 lbs Shredded or Diced Chicken (3-4 meals)
5 lbs Whole Cooked Chicken (3-4 meals)
To cook chicken quickly and easily I simply line cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil, season my chicken breasts with salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until your meat thermometer to 165 degrees. Let cool then shred or dice as needed before placing into your bags. This chicken is perfect to grab when making a chicken casserole, chicken salad or to put on top of your salad.
10 lbs – Frozen Chicken Breasts
5 lbs – diced frozen (3-4 meals)
5 lbs – chicken strips (3-4 meals)
When freezing raw chicken I keep things very simple and dice or cut the chicken into strips then toss them in the bag unseasoned. I use this chicken for almost any recipe that calls for raw chicken, I just have to remember to take it out of the freezer ahead of time! These bags are great for chicken fajitas, stir-fries and other quick chicken meals!
20 lbs – Easy Chicken Meals
5lbs for Honey Mustard Chicken (2-3 meals)
5lbs for Mexican Chili Lime (2-3 meals)
5lbs for Marinated Italian Chicken (2-3 meals)
5lbs for Our Favorite Chicken (2-3 meals)
I love to have bags of marinaded chicken on hand, especially in the spring and summer. These two marinades cook up perfectly on the grill, or they can be baked inside. If you don’t have time to make your own marinade mix you can use several store-bought sauces or oil-based salad dressings instead.
PLAN OF ATTACK
- COOK CHICKEN – I start with cooking the chicken first, that way the cooked chicken has time to cool before I bag it up at the end.
- RAW CHICKEN: Next I will move on to cutting and bagging up the raw chicken.
- MEALS: Since I’m already working with raw chicken, I will bag up the meals next.
- CLEAN UP: Once all of the raw chicken bags have been put away I’ll cleaning off (and sanitizing) the counters.
- COOKED CHICKEN: Once the work surfaces are clean, I finish up by shredding and chopping the cooked chicken and bag it up!
- TAKE A NAP – you deserve it!
* When working with chicken just be sure to practice safe food handling so no one gets sick, keep raw chicken far away from cooked chicken. I’ve also roped in my hubby to help, I’ll probably have him do most of the raw chicken dicing and slicing.
SOME TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PREP EASY
MIX MARINADES THE NIGHT BEFORE:
Mix up your marinades (Our Favorite Chicken, Honey Mustard Chicken and Garlic Lime Chicken recipes below) and store in the refrigerator. I usually make 4 of each marinade, don’t worry if you don’t use it all, you can easily freeze any left-over, unused marinade.
PREPARE YOUR WORKSPACE
Make sure that your counters and tables are cleaned off and ready to work on. Gather all of your supplies and tools and be sure to have plenty of towels (this is a good time to break out the paper towels).
LABEL YOUR BAGS
I always forget to do this, but labeling your storage bags before you get started is a huge help, it’s always a bit tricky to write on the bags once they are full!
CUT CHICKEN BREASTS IN HALF (horizontally)
When you are working with really large breasts (*giggle*… ok focus!) you can stretch your chicken even farther by cutting your chicken breasts in half (making them thinner). This will not only stretch your food but it will also cook faster and more evenly!
Italian Chicken (2 BOTTLES)
One of the most delicious marinade recipes is simple and only costs about a buck a meal – Italian dressing! I take about 3-4 chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and pour 1/2 a bottle of Italian dressing in. That’s it, super easy! I love to grill this chicken or bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Our Favorite Chicken (I DOUBLE THIS)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh rosemary
Place 3-4 Chicken Breast in a gallon size ziplock bag.
Mix wet ingredients and seasoning. Pour marinade into bag and freeze.
These can be used in a crockpot cooked on HIGH for 4 hours. You can also bake these chicken breasts in the oven at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes until your meat thermometer to 165 degrees. Cook in Crockpot on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
Honey Mustard Chicken (I TRIPLE THIS)
- 2 lbs chicken, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 c honey
- 2 T prepared mustard
- 1 t salt
- 1 t curry powder (or more to taste)
Melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 c honey 2 T prepared mustard 1 t salt 1 t curry powder
Bake in the oven: Bake for about one hour in preheated 350 degree oven, basting every 15 minutes, until your meat thermometer to 165 degrees.
Sauté: You can also sauté the chicken on the stovetop.
Crockpot: or cook in your crockpot on high for 4 hours. (I do give it a stir one time when using the crockpot) Serve over rice and use sauce over the top of the chicken.
Garlic Lime Chicken (I DOUBLE THIS)
- 6-8 Chicken Breast
- 1/4 soy sauce (more or less to your taste)
- 1/2 c lime juice
- 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 2 TBS corn starch
Place 6-8 chicken breasts (diced or whole) in your freezer bag. (I actually put 3 in each bag and divide the mixture between the two bags) Mix all wet ingredients and seasoning in a bowl and pour over chicken.
Bake in the oven: Bake for about one hour in preheated 350 oven, basting every 15 minutes, until your meat thermometer to 165 degrees.
Grill: You can also cook the chicken on your grill for an easy cleanup too.
Crockpot: Cook in your crockpot on high for 4 hours. (I do give it a stir one time when using the crockpot)
Serve over rice and use sauce over the top of the chicken.
I hope you found this helpful. I know how helpful it can be to have a freezer full of ready-to-go meals! It can also be overwhelming when coming up with a plan, so I hope you found this post helpful.