Cooked chicken is great to have on hand during the week because you can pretty much use it for anything…in salads, sandwiches, wraps, etc.
I typically like to cook chicken in the crock pot when I do my meal prepping because it seems to prevent the chicken from drying out too much during the week. Of course the only downside to using the crock pot is that you have to plan ahead a little better. On the LOW setting it can take up to 5-6 hours before the chicken breasts are completely cooked. You can use the HIGH setting to speed up the process but I find that the chicken is not nearly as tender.
To meal prep chicken in the crock pot you’ll need:
~ 3.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (should be 3 whole breasts in the package)
16 oz. container fresh salsa
Mrs. Dash all-purpose seasoning (or equivalent)
1. The first thing I do is “butterfly” the chicken breasts to create two equal-size halves. When you butterfly the chicken breast you are basically cutting it lengthwise right at the thickest part of the breast. If you can’t quite picture exactly how this looks check out this quick video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/yqjfQP3Mp2k (except you’ll want to cut the breasts completely in half). This will give you 6 pieces of chicken that are roughly the same size.
Also, if you don’t want to mess with fresh chicken breasts you can just take a bag of frozen chicken breasts (these are typically cut in half already) and dump in as many as you need.
2. Now you want to layer the chicken breasts in the crock pot for cooking. First, cover the bottom of the crock pot with a thin layer of salsa. Add two chicken breasts and lightly cover with seasoning. Add another layer of salsa and spread over the chicken. Keep going until you run out of chicken breasts. Whatever salsa you have left just dump over the chicken. I put a little bit of water in the salsa container to rinse it out, and then dump that in too.
Your crock pot should look something like this:
3. Every crock pot is going to be different, but on the LOW setting it typically takes my chicken breasts around 6 hours to cook through. Every once in a while when I’m in the kitchen I’ll lift the lid and flip the breasts around but you don’t really need to. I just need to satisfy my OCD. 🙂
You should be able to tell just by looking at it if the chicken is done, but to avoid overcooking you can purchase a meat thermometer. Stick it in the thickest part of the breast and watch for 165 degrees.
4. When the chicken is done I’ll pull the breasts out of the crock pot and put them in a container to cool off. I’m usually busy in the kitchen working on other things. Once the breasts are cool enough to handle I’ll begin to shred them up by hand since I typically like to use them for wraps and salads. I have a huge box of food service gloves I bought at Costco that I really enjoy using for this purpose! But you can use a knife and fork to cut them up if using your hands freaks you out or you don’t have gloves. Sometimes I will leave a couple of the pieces whole, especially if I’m cooking extra for my husband.
You can decide to store the chicken in separate containers based on serving size (typically half of a breast is one serving) or just store it all in one container and take out as much chicken as you need for whatever meal you are making during the week. The choice is yours!
Either way, you will definitely enjoy the convenience of having your chicken already cooked whenever you need it!