Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Batch Cooking & Freezing: Chicken Breasts for Future Meals

Meal time is starting to get more hectic around here.

As my kids get older, they are participating in more activities and for some reason they happen around our normal dinner time. I am looking for meal prep short cuts that do not sacrifice the quality of our meals, but still save myself time and maybe even some money.

I stock up on chicken breasts when the large 3 lb packages are on sale. $1.99 is my buy and stock up price. The best price I have gotten to date is $1.59/lb, but I doubt I'll see that price again, it was during a store's Grand Re-Opening.

To save myself some time I have been batch cooking the chicken breasts and freezing in 2 cups portions. Chicken in the main component in many of my dishes and eliminating the cooking part of chicken during meal prep should save me some time.

I place all of the chicken breasts from a 3 lb package in a 6-Quart crock-pot. I pour about 32 oz of homemade chicken stock on top and cooked on low for about 6-7 hours, or until it is done. (You could also use store bought chicken broth.) It is important not to over-cook, because the chicken dries out. The stock should be discarded; it will be full of foamy, fatty stuff.

When chicken is cooked all the way through, remove the chicken from the crock-pot and allow to cool slightly to the point where you can handle the chicken. You can then dice or shred into small bite-size pieces. I prefer to shred and honestly, I think it is easier to do with my clean hands than two forks. It is also much easier to shred when the chicken is still slightly warm.

Place in freezer containers and store in the freezer until future use. I like to freeze in 2 cup portions.

Another way to batch cook chicken is to Roast a Whole Chicken.

Easy meal ideas for your cooked chicken:

Do you pre-cook chicken for the freezer and future meals? If you have a recipe that includes already cooked chicken, feel free to include the link in the comments.

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  1. I love the batch cooking. I'm not the cook in the family but my husband cooks large quantities of food (he'll spend two days in the kitchen) and than freeze it all into portion size meals to eat for dinner and take to work for lunch. The other advantage is when he doesn't feel like making a complicated dinner he can take out a dish and heat it up quickly!

  2. if you're 'crocking' chicken on the bone, you don't need to add stock, or even water. It 'makes it's own gravy.' I rarely add liquid when I crock meat. Truly.

  3. Are you using fresh or frozen chicken breasts for batch cooking?

  4. Anon - I have batch cooked both. If the chicken was frozen, I would probably thaw enough to remove from packaging because I usually buy in the big 3 pound packages and just cook a little longer until chicken was cooked all the way through.

    Thanks for commenting.

  5. Do you cook these on low? I typically use the high setting on my crock pot (because I usually forget to start it until noon or later! LOL), and the meat is always on the dry side. If this method produces tender chicken on low, then this is what I'll start doing. I can't seem to cook chicken properly (without drying it out) to save my life! I just asked my husband to grill out this week's chicken breasts tonight for me in one batch because his grilled chicken always turns out better than mine.

    1. I do cook on low. And you don't want to over cook; it will only take 6-7 hours depending on how much chicken you're cooking. They will dry out in the crock pot too if they're overcooked. It's always a balancing act with chicken.


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