How to Bulk Prep Chicken for Quick Meals

Bulk Prep Chicken
One of my favorite quick meal tips is to bulk prepare items. I have been doing a Bulk Prep Chicken day every few months for a couple of years when I get a good price. I like to stock up, prep and then be done with it until it’s time for dinner.

 
I often get my chicken from Zaycon Foods in 40# cases when they come to town, but I’ve also done multiple family packs from the store before too. It’s all what works for you when you do it. In fact, sometimes starting with one family pack and testing some of these ideas is the right start for someone who isn’t sure if it works for them…. instead of investing in 40# and once and then finding out it’s not what they want to do.

  • The first rule I follow is to repackage. By repackaging into smaller meal size portions, you avoid having to wait for large clumps of chicken to thaw for use and you don’t have eat chicken multiple days in a row if you thaw more than a meal’s worth.
  • The second rule I follow is to use quality storage bags. No dollar store bags for my longer term storage in the freezer, they just don’t cut it.
  • The third rule is no more than 3-4 months at a time since I’m not using freezer paper. I start seeing freezer burn more after about the 4 month point, but before that there is little to none with the other things I do.
  • Fourth, don’t freeze air. Remove as much air from your packages as possible. It takes up space and helps freezer burn set in if it’s there.
  • And last, don’t freeze styrofoam. It takes up space, creates air pockets and doesn’t allow your meat to thaw evenly when you take it out of the freezer.

I first start by doing a quick trim of any fat and skin on the meat. I try to make my prep packages as lean as possible.

The first batch goes to the grill. I put several meals worth of the chicken on it to grill up with no seasoning. Then I package it in meal portions for use on salads and in fajitas later.

  
While the grill is going, I move on to processing the majority of the rest of the chicken.

We like marinated meat, but waiting for hours is not my style. Because of that, I started putting the marinade in the bag in meal size portions before freezing. It serves two purposes: it helps protect from freezer burn (the marinades don’t freezer burn as quickly as raw meat) and then when I take it out in the morning to thaw it marinated the meat while thawing on the top shelf of my fridge and is ready for the grill when we want to make dinner that evening.

  
Then in large quantity it goes into the freezer.

 
Another thing we like to do in large quantities are our own Chicken Strips. By breading or baking with seasoning and then flash freezing, we have better than the national brand tenders at a fraction of the cost.

Cut the chicken into strips. Then, make your own breading or use something like Shake N Bake or Kraft Fresh Take and dip the chicken in water, coat and bake! About 20 minutes at 350 does the trick unless you cut them very thick.

  
If you prefer a non breaded tender you can spray your baking sheet with Pam and season to your tastes. I like Mrs. Dash for these… they come out tasting kind of like Buffalo Wild Wings Naked Tenders. Again, 350 for 20 minutes does the trick.

 
After the majority of the chicken is prepped and put away, it’s time to go back to that pile of rough trimmings.

I do mine VERY rough so I have some small chunks of meat that can still be used. I go back and cut a little closer and fry up the small cubes of chicken with a little bit of Pam Spray so they are unseasoned and flexible for later use in casseroles and even boxed dinners as we desire later.

 
And what to do with the rest of the trimmings, skin and fat?

Why your own broth of course! I put them all in the slow cooker with some seasoning and let it simmer overnight on low. The next morning I have broth I can quickly put into a container and store in the fridge or freezer for later use.

  
But, I’m not done yet. What about the bit of chicken that’s left?

If I don’t have time to mix it into chicken salad right then, I put it in a dish for later. A little salad dressing and seasoning and you have a quick lunch or mix it with taco seasoning for chicken tacos. Lots of options!

 

How do you prepare your bulk prep chicken?


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Whole Cooked Ham Freezer Bulk Prep Ideas

Ham Freezer Bulk Prep
 

Easter and Christmas are typically the best seasons of the year to stock up on ham. It’s when we see the lowest price per pound. I like to do my stock up and then instead of freezing a whole ham and trying to figure out what to do with it later, prep it for my freezer in easier to use meal size portions.

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I start by having the meat department at my local store slice the ham for me. Walmart, Family Fare and Meijer have always done this for FREE for me, so there’s no cost incurred. I have a portion of it sliced deli thin and the remainder sliced into about 1/4″ ham “steak” thickness.

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When it gets home, it’s go time. I slice the “steaks” again into sizes that are easier to cook in a frying pan later on. We like to just pull them from the freezer and thaw them, then put them in the pan and let them heat and carmelize for a main dish. These are done in portions that make 1 meal for a family of 4 and stored in a quart size freezer bag.

It’s important to note, the cooked ham will last a lot longer in a freezer without freezer burn than a raw meat will because it’s already been cooked.

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After the majority of the ham has been packaged, I take the ends and small pieces and dice them up. They get packaged in portions for use in omelets, casseroles and scalloped potatoes.

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The portion that I have sliced into lunchmeat is divided two ways. First, we make freezer sandwiches for school lunches. These are just bread, meat and cheese. They come out of the freezer in the morning and go in a lunch box. They are thawed, but still cold when the kids go to eat them later.

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The remainder is portioned into freezer bags so they can be thawed in smaller portions as we want to make sandwiches over the summer.

Do you bulk prep ham? What else do you like to do with it?

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