Okay, so you’ve heard all the buzz, learned the basics and now you’re ready to prep your first meal. If you’ve never prepared meals for multiple days then your first time can be a little bumpy. Not to worry though, in this post we'll go over everything you need to do for your first meal prep.
For your first prepping session it’s best to keep things simple. Don’t try to get too fancy by trying complicated recipes you’ve never cooked before, or taking on too much at once.
Chicken, when prepared right, is tasty and easy to prepare. So to keep things simple we are going to start off with a simple chicken recipe.
I like to use a whole chicken. It makes the preparation much easier, you get lots more out of your prep and you have more options.
You can pull off the skin to get rid of excess fat if you want, or you can keep it on. It’s totally up to you.
The important part is that you prepare it similar to how you would normally prepare chicken for just one meal. So however you and your family like chicken, that’s how you should prepare it this time — just on a bit of a bigger scale.
For the sake of this post, we will use a simple sauce to coat the chicken.
The first thing you should do is make short (2 to 3 inch) cuts all around the chicken. These cuts are for the sauce. They don’t need to be deep but you do want to cut deep enough for the sauce to sort of infuse the chicken.
You can use whatever sauce you prefer but I like chimichurri. You can make your own if you want but it’s much easier, and oftentimes just as tasty if you buy it from the store.
Here’s the recipe I use when I just feel like doing it myself.
Low Calorie Chimichurri Sauce
- 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped (remove the stems)
- 1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped (remove the stems)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Combine oregano, hot water and 1 tsp salt in a small bowl. The let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Combine all ingredients, except for the oil, together in a food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped and well blended.
- Pour everything into a small bowl, and whisk in the oil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Let sauce come to room temp before serving.
This Chimichurri recipe only takes about 10 minutes to prepare.
288 Calories total (that’s about 58 calories per serving/day)
Now coat the chicken in the sauce. Go as heavy or as light as you want. Just be sure you create a consistent layer. Personally, I like to really coat it on there. This helps to make the outside crispier, especially if you have already removed the skin.
The Oven is Your Friend
At this point, you can go ahead and preheat your oven. Let the chicken sit while you’re preheating and allow the sauce to marinate.
No matter what you are doing, as a meal prepper, the oven is your friend. It’s large enough to hold lots of meals and depending on the recipe, you will be able to make your entire meal.
For example, baked vegetables would go great with the whole chicken you’re getting ready to throw in the oven. Why not bake them all at the same time? This way you’re looking at only a few dishes, almost no mess and you’re saving about ten times as much time as anyone else who isn’t meal prepping.
All you need is a bit of olive oil, and any vegetables you want. I like to do celery, carrots, potatoes and onions.
Simply put them in a bowl, pour a bit of olive oil over them, add salt and stir the vegetables around in the bowl.
Once you have them all covered you can place them on a separate baking sheet and pop them in the oven with your whole chicken.
Let them sit in the oven for about an hour at 450. I like to do 500 because it get the vegetables perfect but it may be too hot for your chicken.
A simple compromise is setting the oven to 475, throwing in the chicken and cooking halfway. Once the chicken is about half cooked (30 minutes or so) you can place your veggies in for the remainder of the time.
Just keep an eye on things.
Once your veggies are done they will be browned to a point where they almost look a little burnt. At that point you can go ahead and pull them out and check your chicken.
When cooking chicken it’s best to use a thermometer to ensure that it has been cooked thoroughly. I use one like you see in the picture, which you can find here.
It makes baking chicken super easy.
All you do is push the stinger into the middle of the chicken and watch the readout. If your internal temperature is 165 then your chicken is done.
Congratulations! Your Meal is Ready
Now it’s time to separate things and store them until you are ready to eat.
Be sure you separate your veggies into an equal number of servings depending on how many days you are prepping for. It helps to weigh things out, especially if you are counting calories.
With your veggies ready, you can carve the chicken and weigh it into separate servings as well.
Now place everything in your Meal Prep Haven Containers and store them in the freezer. When it’s time to eat you can simply pop a container in the microwave and heat until warm.
Complete Calorie Breakdown
Celery (medium, 8 inches) = 6 calories
Carrots (medium) = 2 calories
Potatoes (1 potato (3’’ dia) = 163 calories
Onions (medium 3’’ dia) = 44 calories
Chicken (1 LB) = 425 calories
Chimichurri Sauce = 288 Calories (58 per serving)
Only you can decide how much of each ingredient you want to use. But,unless you go crazy with the potatoes, you can count on this entire meal being right around 2,000 calories, which is the suggested average daily intake for most adults. Once you separate the meal into containers your calorie intake will be much lower, so you’ll have plenty of room for other meals.
The #1 Mistake Made By Newbie Meal Preppers
Too often, newbie meal preppers work hard to create great meals days ahead of time, only to toss them in regular plastic containers.
It seems fine to do that because it’s simple, you probably already have several of them around your kitchen and you’ve been storing food this way for years.
However, just because it seems okay doesn’t mean it is.
How you choose to store your meal is what really makes the difference between great tasting food and mush.
When you work hard to prepare great meals you don’t want to eat slop. Unfortunately that’s what happens with regular food storage.
What you need is an airtight, microwave safe container with compartments to keep food separated. And that’s just what you get with our quality, choice Meal Prep Haven containers.