How to Meal Prep Chicken Breast, Thighs, & Ground Meat

3 Easy Chicken Meal Prep Recipes + Meal Prep Bowls

Learn how to meal prep chicken breast, thighs, and ground meat to use in loads of easy meals! With chopped, ground, and shredded chicken at the ready in your fridge, throwing together a quick meal prep dinner or lunch is a breeze. Plus, I’m sharing 3 chicken meal prep bowls for your inspiration, each with deliciously different flavors and veggies.

How to Meal Prep Chicken 3 Ways

Generally, most people go searching for specific chicken meal prep recipes that they can follow precisely. But personally, I want my healthy meal prep to be flexible, versatile, and easy. Instead of following a recipe, I like to prep basic components—like a protein, grains, and veggies—that I can throw together to create different meals.

By learning how to meal prep chicken in a few different ways, you create loads of possibilities for your weekly prep. Protein is often the most time-consuming component to cook, so I love the convenience of having some ground, chopped, or shredded chicken prepped in the fridge. Then, I can use that cooked protein to make freshly-cooked meals quickly—even on a weeknight!

Minimum vs. Maximum Prep

The way I’ve meal prepped has changed a lot over the years. I started with maximum prep: prepping everything for the week, completely cooked meals ready to reheat and eat. And now I’ve turned to minimal prep: prepping basic components that I combine to create meals during the week. In my Mind Over Meal Prep course, you can learn how to meal prep in the style that’s sustainable and effective for your lifestyle!

How to Meal Prep Chicken Breast, Thighs, & Ground Meat

Basic Chicken Meal Prep Tips

  • Prep components rather than full recipes. My favorite approach to meal prep for the week is to prepare a protein, some vegetables, and a grain or carbohydrate. If you like more variety in your meals, prepare a few of each! Then, you can mix and match the components to create quick meals throughout the week.
  • Find a cooking method that’s easyfor youto make and enjoyable to eat. Try a few different methods to see what suits you! Personally, I think cooking ground chicken is the easiest method and a great place to start. But, once you learn how to cook shredded chicken and pan cooked chicken, you’ll see how simple they are—and they might turn out to be your favorite to eat!
  • Keep the seasonings simple on prep day. For component-style prep, I recommend sticking with simple salt and pepper when seasoning your chicken. That way, you’ve got flexibility throughout the week to add different seasonings and create different meals!

How much chicken should be in a meal prep?

As a rule of thumb, a typical serving is 4oz of raw chicken. Once cooked, the meat loses some water and fat—meaning 4oz raw chicken will become ~3oz cooked chicken. For me, generally 1 pound (16oz) of boneless skinless meat yields 4 servings. If you prefer more protein per serving, adjust the amount of chicken you prep accordingly based on the number of servings you need!

Can I meal prep chicken for a week?

Yes, but 7 days is the maximum I recommend prepping chicken ahead of time. Really, the best approach is to prepare 4-5 days worth of food to avoid spoilage. After day 5, you may notice a change in the smell and taste of the meat. It depends on your comfort level! (I’ll admit, I’ve definitely eaten 7-day old meal prep chicken before.) Keep in mind, the USDA says chicken is safe for up to 4 days stored in the fridge.

Meal Prep Chicken Burrito Bowl

Chicken Meal Prep Bowls & Recipe Ideas

Once you’ve learned how to meal prep chicken in a few different ways, you can find some recipes or create some meals that you enjoy eating! To craft your own easy meals, try my basic mix and match method: combine a protein + vegetable + carbohydrate or vessel. Or, check out some of these meal prep bowls for your inspiration:

See how to meal prep chicken 3 ways in my Chicken Meal Prep Bowls video!

Meal Prep Teriyaki Chicken Bowl

How to Meal Prep Chicken Breast or Thighs, 2 Ways

First, let’s walk through how to meal prep chicken breast or thighs 2 ways: as poached and shredded chicken, or as chopped chicken on the stove. For both methods, you can use either boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs—whichever you prefer!

To see how to cook chicken breasts or thighs in the oven for meal prep, check out my other chicken burrito bowl meal prep dinners.

How to Cook Shredded Chicken

Boiled shredded chicken is my personal favorite prep method! It’s quick, easy, and perfect for crafting different meals throughout the week—like my BBQ chicken bowl. Simply boil chicken breasts or thighs for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Then, shred the meat with 2 forks, or get adventurous and shred it with a hand mixer! (Seriously, try this and see for yourself how fun it is…)

How to Poach and Shred Chicken Breast
Cover chicken breasts (or thighs) with water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
How to Shred Chicken Breast
Chicken is cooked through when reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or 74°C. (It’s best to check this with a meat thermometer.)
Meal Prep Shredded Chicken
Shred cooked chicken with 2 forks or using a hand mixer!
How to Cook Shredded Chicken
Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
How to Cook Shredded Chicken

Shredded Chicken Breast or Thighs

How to cook shredded chicken by first poaching chicken breasts or thighs, then shredding with 2 forks or a hand mixer!
5 stars (3 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
  • water

Instructions 

  • Add boneless skinless chicken breasts to a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.
  • Turn down heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts. (Larger cuts will require more time to cook through.)
  • Chicken is cooked through when no longer pink and reaches an internal temperature of 165°For 74°C. (It’s best to check this with a meat thermometer to be sure!)
  • Once cooked, remove chicken from pot and rest until cooled enough to handle.
  • When cool, shred the meat with 2 forks, or cut the breasts into smaller chunks and shred in a bowl with a hand mixer! (Seriously, try this and see for yourself…)
  • Allow to cool before storing shredded chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
  • Season to taste at the time of reheating. Delicious enjoyed in a BBQ chicken bowl or served with your favorite accompaniments!
Serving: 4oz raw (3oz cooked), Calories: 130kcal, Protein: 25g, Fat: 3g
Did you make this recipe?Share a photo and tag us @mindovermunch — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!
Meal Prep BBQ Chicken Bowl
Use shredded chicken in a BBQ chicken bowl or your favorite meal prep dinner!

How to Cook Chopped Chicken

For a quick stovetop prep method, cut raw chicken cutlets into 1-2-inch pieces and then pan fry! You can either store the raw meat to cook fresh throughout the week, or cook it all on prep day and reheat it when you’re ready to eat. The whole process only takes around 10 minutes, and the result is deliciously juicy and versatile. Try it as part of a teriyaki chicken bowl or any meal prep dinner you enjoy!

How to Meal Prep Chicken Thighs
Cut raw chicken thighs or breasts into 1-2-inch pieces using kitchen shears or a knife.
How to Store Chicken for Meal Prep
Store cut raw chicken in the fridge container to cook throughout the week, or cook on prep day.
Pan Fried Chicken Thighs
Cook cubed chicken in a pan with oil over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, until browned on all sides.
How to Cook Chicken Thighs on Stove Top
Allow cooked chicken to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
How to Cook Chicken Thighs on Stove Top

Chopped Chicken Thighs or Breast

How to pan fry chicken thighs or breasts for convenient, juicy meal prep chicken that you can use in meals throughout the week.
5 stars (2 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • drizzle of oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions 

Meal Prep Instructions:

  • Cut raw chicken into pieces using kitchen shears or a knife. (I prefer pieces about 1-2 inches in size. Keep in mind: larger pieces will require more time to cook through, while smaller pieces cook more quickly.)
  • Cook immediately on prep day, or store in an airtight container for 3-4 days to cook on a weeknight.

To Cook on the Stove:

  • Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add chopped chicken and season to taste with desired seasonings. (I prefer to keep the seasonings simple if I’m cooking the meat for meal prep.)
  • Turn heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, allowing the chicken to sear and brown.
  • Begin stirring occasionally and cook another 4-5 minutes, until browned on all sides and chicken is cooked through.
  • Allow to cool before storing leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
  • Season to taste at the time of reheating. Delicious enjoyed in a teriyaki chicken bowl or served with your favorite accompaniments!

To Cook in the Oven:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Add to a glass baking dish or a lined baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of oil and desired seasonings.
  • Bake 16-20 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Allow to cool before storing leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
Serving: 4oz raw (3oz cooked), Calories: 160kcal, Protein: 22g, Fat: 8g
Did you make this recipe?Share a photo and tag us @mindovermunch — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!
Meal Prep Teriyaki Chicken Bowl
Serve chopped chicken in a teriyaki chicken bowl or one of your favorite meal prep meals!

How to Meal Prep Ground Chicken

Last but not least, ground chicken is the easiest method if you’re just learning how to meal prep chicken. Simply add ground chicken to a hot pan with oil and break it up as it cooks. Personally, I like to brown larger chunks first to get a nice sear, then gradually break it into smaller pieces until it’s cooked through. Enjoy it in my chicken burrito bowl recipe or your favorite meal prep dinner!

How to Cook Ground Chicken
Add ground chicken to a pan with oil over medium-high heat. Break into a few larger chunks and allow to brown.
Meal Prep Ground Chicken
Gradually break ground chicken into smaller pieces, until cooked through.
Meal Prep Chicken for the Week
Once cooled, store cooked ground chicken in an airtight container in the fridge.
Meal Prep Chicken for the Week

Meal Prep Ground Chicken

How to cook ground chicken and store it for meal prep, so it’s ready to use in tasty meals during your week.
5 stars (2 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • drizzle of oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add ground chicken and break into a few larger chunks using a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Allow to brown for 1-2 minutes before breaking into smaller chunks. Season to taste, as desired.
  • Continue browning and breaking up the meat until cooked through and no longer pink.
  • Allow to cool before storing ground chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
  • Season to taste at the time of reheating. Delicious enjoyed as part of my chicken burrito bowl recipe, or served with your favorite accompaniments!
Serving: 4oz raw (3oz cooked), Calories: 140kcal, Protein: 22g, Fat: 5g
Did you make this recipe?Share a photo and tag us @mindovermunch — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!
Meal Prep Chicken Burrito Bowl
Use ground chicken in a chicken burrito bowl or your favorite chicken meal prep recipes!

How to Preserve & Store Chicken for Meal Prep

After cooking your ground, chopped, or shredded chicken, keep it fresh with proper storage:

  • Allow cooked chicken to cool completely before covering and storing in the fridge. This will help to limit possible bacterial growth with temperature change.
  • Store meal prep chicken in airtight glass or plastic containers. If you’re freezing your prepped meat, make sure the containers are freezer safe.
  • I recommend reheating all the way through before eating the prepped meat in meals throughout the week.

How can you tell if cooked chicken is bad?

Use your eyes and nose to assess whether cooked chicken has gone bad. When it’s freshly cooked, chicken is brownish-white in color, it’s relatively dry, and it smells nice and savory. When it’s gone bad, chicken can have a gray or green-gray color, some sliminess, and/or a bad, stinky smell. Personally, if I take a whiff and have doubts about it, I’ll toss out my prepped chicken rather than eat it!