Is there anything better than being able to pull a (healthy!) meal from your freezer and have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes? This is my absolute dream, and with a little freezer meal prep, it’s become a reality.
Since I’ll be starting graduate school in just 3 weeks (ahhhhh!), I’ve been spending the last few weeks teaching my significant other how to cook. Right now we’re focusing on the basics – e.g. roasting veggies, grilling meat, and making a side dish of guacamole. That’s where this freezer meal prep marinated chicken comes in!
If you have ten minutes to do some basic freezer meal prep work, then you can make this easy marinated chicken and have it ready to go. Let it defrost in your refrigerator for 24 hours prior to cooking, and then grill it up! Since my significant other prefers grilling over cooking on the stove or oven, that’s been our preference, however, you can definitely bake this chicken in the oven or saute it up in a pan.
Are you ready to get started? Let’s grab some supplies!
- Cutting board and knife: This is optional, but when the chicken breasts are large, I prefer to cut them in half to reduce the cooking time and make portioning a bit easier. I keep a red cutting board in my kitchen specifically for preparing raw meat to prevent any cross-contamination while I’m cooking. It also helps to use a cutting board with the drip grooves (like this one) so it can catch any juices from the raw meat.
- Mixing bowl: This is helpful to mix the chicken with the spices and oil.
- Glass containers or plastic bags: I prefer to use glass over plastic, but depending on how much chicken I’m prepping, sometimes there’s not room for glass containers in our small freezer. If you use glass containers, just make sure not to fill them up all the way as the contents will expand as they freeze.
- Spices of choice: I typically use my homemade spice blends and used a homemade taco seasoning (this one is similar) and a homemade BBQ rub (this one is similar).
- Sea salt: I don’t add salt to my homemade spice blends so I add it separately, but depending on the spices you use, the blend may already contain salt.
- Oil with a high smoke-point: Many people aren’t aware that when oil smokes, it signals that the oil has been damaged and there’s a good chance that cancer-causing properties have formed. This is why it’s really important to NOT cook with olive oil! Since I will be grilling the chicken, I opted for oils that have a high smoke point (e.g. refined safflower oil or grapeseed oil). However, if you are baking this or using the stovetop, you can use oil with a medium-high smoke point instead (e.g. refined coconut oil).
Next, we cut our chicken in half (optional).
Then throw the chicken into the mixing bowl along with your oil and spices!
I add 1 – 2 tablespoon of oil, 1 tablespoon of spices, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (omit if your spice blend already has salt) for every pound of chicken. Since I was prepping four pounds of chicken in this batch, I added 1/4 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of BBQ rub, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
Mix well! (I usually use my hands to mix but tongs also work well)
And then we portion our chicken! I portion mine based on how much we eat over a four-day period so I typically portion them into 1-pound and 1/2-pound portions.
Note: if you are using glass containers for storage, be sure to leave room in the container as the contents will expand once frozen.
And that’s it! Once you’ve portioned your marinated chicken, put it in the freezer immediately (unless you plan to use it that day).
To cook the marinated chicken:
- Remember to pull it from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator ~24 hours before using so it has time to defrost. If you forget, you can immerse it in a bowl under the sink with running cold water for a couple of hours to let it defrost.
- To Grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the (defrosted) chicken from the marinade (discarding any extra) and grill the chicken on both sides until done, about 7 – 9 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Let sit for 5 minutes, then slice.
- To Bake: Heat the oven to 425°F. Add the (defrosted) chicken to a shallow baking dish along with any extra marinade. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes, then flip, and bake another 10 – 15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Let sit for 5 minutes, then slice.
- Since the size of the chicken breasts will impact the cooking time, be sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken and make sure it has reached 165 degrees F.
Note: These are best if used within three months (it’s helpful to label/date the containers).
What are your favorite freezer meal prep tips? Leave a comment below!