One of the best forms of protein for meal prep is chicken. It is not expensive, and it can last for a while in the fridge after cooking. Chicken is a staple in many homes. However, you have to take extra care when preparing chicken since it has a high risk of bacterial contamination. That’s why it’s important to properly store, prepare, and cook poultry.
It’s very convenient to store chicken in the fridge when preparing meals. We get a lot of question on how long chicken can safely be stored. We’ll take you through everything you need to know when it comes to prepping your chicken, how to store it, and how long it can last. To start with, the type of chicken you buy makes a lot of difference. The best type to buy is organic chicken. The best cut to buy for meal prep is boneless, skinless chicken breast.
How long meal prep chicken last in the fridge
According to information provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), while raw chicken can last in the fridge for 1-2 days, cooked chicken can last approximately 3-4 days. Storing cooked chicken in the fridge slows down bacterial growth. Bacteria tend to grow much slower in temperatures below 40°F. When you store meal prep chicken, ensure it’s in an airtight container. This will help keep it fresh. Be sure to keep cooked foods away from uncooked meats and poultry. After cooking, allow the chicken to cool for no more than two hours. Afterward, place it in your fridge. Eat within 3-4 days.
How long meal prep chicken last in the freezer
If you want your meal prep chicken to last a long time, storing it in the freezer is the best option. Cooked chicken in the freezer is always a good thing. Provided that the chicken is continuously kept frozen, then it will remain safe to eat. The flavor of the cooked chicken will also taste better when kept frozen. Meal prepped chicken can last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
After refrigerating your chicken for at least two days, the best thing is to freeze it. Shredded cooked chicken is much easier to defrost than whole pieces. However, you can still store it as whole pieces too if that is what you prefer. You should ensure you store the meal prep chicken in Ziplock freezer bags. Do not forget to press out as much air as you can before sealing the bag. Divide cooked chicken in smaller portions instead of putting a large amount in a single bag. Also, don’t forget to date the package.
Should you refrigerate or freeze meal prep chicken?
Both methods are fine, but it mostly depends on how long you want to keep it stored. When you want to store the meal prep chicken longer than a few days, then it’s best to store it in the freezer. You can have cooked chicken in the freezer for between 2-6 months. In the fridge you can only keep it for a maximum of 2-3 days. If you’ve cooked the chicken, it’s best to refrigerate it for about two days or less when it’s cut up. If the chicken is whole, then you can have it in the refrigerator for three days or less.
Mistakes to avoid when storing chicken
It’s good to avoid ending up with a tasteless and boring meal. Chicken is the hardest type of meat to spoil. Thus, it is easy to prepare. Even after knowing the basics involved in preparing chicken, you may realize it is still not easy to cook. When mistakes are made during preparation, it leads to blend flavors and other serious consequences.
It is often recommended to start by washing the chicken. Salmonella is a common bacterium found on raw chicken. When you wash chicken, the salmonella might spread on the kitchen surface. So be sure to take precautionary actions to prevent cross contamination.
Don’t touch any surfaces before washing your hands. If just getting started, try working with protective gloves when preparing chicken. After marinating the chicken, store it in the refrigerator, don’t leave it at room temperature and don’t reuse a marinade. Store the chicken in a sealed bag or a hermetically sealed container. Avoid having a marinade that’s too acidic or salty.
How you prepare chicken depends on what meals you want to make. If you’re thinking of preparing chicken for soup for instance, you may want to use chicken breasts instead of legs. No matter what you do, remember, chicken requires a lot of attention when it’s being prepared.
You should never let cooked meat come in contact with raw meat. Always store the cooked meat separately from raw meat. If it’s possible, separate the cooked and raw meat in different shelves when storing it in the refrigerator. It is recommended to store uncooked poultry on the lowest shelf possible to prevent cross contamination. As you prepare the chicken, use a thermometer so you can best determine how long the chicken needs to be cooked, depending on the method of cooking and the recipe.
After preparation, it’s good to know how to properly store the meal prep chicken. If you do not plan to eat the meal within four days, then place it in an airtight container and put it in the freezer. It will last for months. If you’re planning on only having it in the fridge for a few days, then just store it in an airtight, glass container, or ziplock bags to keep it fresh in the fridge for four days.
Rules for reheating chicken safely
Meal prepping chicken is fun. However, we must also know how to safely reheat it after taking it out of the fridge or freezer. Ideally, we want to remember when and how the chicken was prepared. You should follow the following steps when reheating chicken:
- After serving, cover the cooked chicken
- Refrigerate the cooked chicken within an hour of serving
- Reheat to at least 75°C / 165°F thoroughly
- It is best to only reheat the chicken once
The best way to reheat chicken
You should reheat cooked chicken thoroughly. The chicken should be piping hot throughout. That means you should at least heat it at 165°F all the way through. Use a foil to wrap the chicken to reheat it in the oven. If you aren’t using the oven, you can place it on a plate and heat it in your microwave. Eat it right away after reheating it.
Chicken isn’t much different from other types of meat. However, when reheating chicken, you must be careful not to overcook it. This might cause it to dry out and become inedible. There’s no exact number on how many times you can reheat chicken. You can reheat it as much as you need, however the more it is reheated the greater the chance of it drying out. The most important thing you should consider though is that it should be piping hot all the way through. The only way to accurately measure that is using a cooking thermometer.
As mentioned earlier, there are different ways you can reheat your chicken.
Preheat the oven before, then blot the chicken before adding a little oil to help crisp the skin. The food should be heated to the point it maintains a temperature of 70°C. Heat until it’s piping hot for the required time.
When using the microwave, the chicken might not be evenly heated throughout. Take it out halfway to turn it so it heats up all throughout. Shred it into small pieces to make it easier to work with. That will help with heating the meat completely. The center won’t be cold. That often happens when heating a big piece of chicken.
Meal prepping saves us a lot of time and also ensures we are eating a healthy diet. Meal prep chicken has to be properly cleaned, cooked, and stored. It lasts much longer when stored in the freezer, while only lasting a few days when stored in the fridge. There are specific ways to store chicken in the fridge or freezer. Using the proper methods to both store and reheat chicken will allow us to enjoy cooked meal for an extended period of time.