I love meal prep & rely a lot on make-ahead meals & planned leftovers to get through the week. Today, though, I’m doing things in an organized way: Cook this Meal Prep Chicken over the weekend and throw together five varied lunches for two with no repeats. Coz who wants to eat the same thing over and over?
Below, you’ll find links to five healthy and absolutely delish lunches to pack along to work. I get that sometimes it’s all you can do to get anything together for lunch, but sometimes, you just get tired of the same ol’ same ol’. Pamper yourself, make yourself a priority. You’ll be the envy of the office and won’t even think about going out!
All are meals that can be cut in half for one or made for four if you’d rather have dinners for a family, but most of these meals lean to adult tastes. Honestly, if you’re feeding kiddos every night, it can be a welcome change to eat grown up food at work!
Adapt these meals to just about any of the diets out there with just a bit of tweaking, but even if you have no concerns about health or diet, these are fantastic anyway. The best of both worlds!!
You’ll want to pay attention to the order of the meals, serving pretty much in order. More delicate and cold meals are served first, with heartier heat up meals at end of the week. Meal #5 is a freezer soup so there’s no issues with freshness.
The base item for this week’s meal prep is a barbecue rubbed Meal Prep Chicken recipe. The chicken is great on its own, but the spicing mild enough so it can “morph” into different cuisines. With all the variety. I promise you won’t be tired of chicken by the end of the week.
So, basically, we’re having Meal Prep Chicken x 5 meals, & many of the vegetables and the rice do double duty too. I worked to eliminate potential waste but there’s going to be some extra veggies and leftovers of the Black Eyed Pea and Rice Salad & Brunswick Stew. You’ll want work those into your dinner plans.
If you follow this plan to use your Meal Prep Chicken, you’ll want to shop & prep everything at once. I added in options for shortcuts if you’re not so much feeling the prep part of the Meal Prep Chicken meals. The grocery list isn’t “pretty” but is labeled for each recipe so items are easy to remove if you deviate or shortcut.Print
Meal Prep Chicken
This Meal Prep Chicken is perfect for make-ahead meals for lunches! It makes enough to have you covered for the five meals on this page or you can use it for your own favorite meals.
- 4 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast (see note)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of Rib Rub, recommended is Essential Rib Rub but store-bought is fine, too.
- Pam, for baked chicken, only
For both recipes, trim chicken of fat or cartilage. Sprinkle rib rub over chicken and rub in.
Instant Pot Meal Prep Chicken:
Place rack in the bottom of Instant Pot. Add one cup of water. Add chicken on top of the rack, trying to avoid touching the sides of the pot. Lay down two breasts side by side with a little space between them. Add another two at right angles. Then add two more, at a right angle to the previous layer and continue until all the chicken is in the pot (the amount of layers depends on how many breasts are in the package.)
Seal Instant Pot and set to High Pressure, 20 minutes. Let Instant Pot go to the Keep Warm function for 10 minutes and then release any remaining pressure.
Remove chicken and save the juices for the Brunswick Stew.
Oven Roasted Meal Prep Chicken:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or oil a 9 x 12″ baking pan.
Trim chicken of fat or cartilage. Sprinkle rib rub over chicken and rub in. Place in baking pan, spray with olive or other oil and roast until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts.
Save any juices that have accumulated in the pan for the Brunswick Stew.
How much chicken is needed?
- Measuring chicken from raw to prepared always has a bit of variance. 4 1/2 pounds should be just enough, after trimming and cooking, to cover all the meals.
- Larger family packs usually are the best price and generally run between 5 and 5 1/2 pounds. Either freeze a breast or cook it all and have a little extra.
on to the cooking
- First are the meals and links along with any special instructions you might need to package & shortcuts if you’d like them.
- Towards the bottom of the page, a printable grocery list with everything you need.
- The ingredients are labeled as to what goes into what recipe, so they’re easy to remove if you aren’t making everything on this post.
- The printable list also has instructions to prep all ingredients at once.
The Shaved Brussels & Kale Salad with Sliced Chicken Breast recipe serves 4. Divide the recipe in half. (The grocery list reflects this.) Serve with Lemon Tahini Dressing or another choice.
to meal prep this recipe:
Divide salad into two containers. Place in small containers or divide & wrap as appropriate and add to the container along with the salad:
When ready to serve, mix salad with dressing, top with chicken & croutons.
To shortcut this recipe, use a bagged salad and/or a prepared salad dressing & prepared croutons.
To make the pulled chicken, just add 1/2 cup (or as much as you’d like) of barbecue sauce to about 1 1/2 cups chicken. Make the Simple Carrot & Cabbage Slaw and the Cilantro Lime Rice. Use a cup of the Cilantro Lime Rice in Black Eyed Pea & Rice Salad, and save the rest for the Shortcut Fajitas, later. You’ll have extra of the both Salads. Add a bun, if you want.
to meal prep this recipe:
Be sure to have a small microwave-safe container to heat the chicken. Portion all items into two divided containers:
- Pulled chicken
- Black Eyed Pea & Rice Salad
- Quick Carrot & Cabbage Slaw
- Wrap the bun up well
When ready to serve, remove the pulled pork and heat in the microwave for about a minute.
Shortcut this recipe with prepared salads.
The Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe already serves two.
to meal prep this recipe:
Divide the salad into 2 containers. Place into containers or divide & wrap as appropriate and add to the container along with the salad:
- Chopped peanuts
When ready to serve, top salad with chicken & the chopped herbs. Drizzle the dressing over and toss lightly. Sprinkle with nuts and serve with a lime wedge.
Shortcut this by using a store-bought dressing and/or a mixed salad bag.
to meal prep this recipe:
Divide into rice into two containers. Top with the chicken & vegetables. Place in the containers or divide & wrap as appropriate:
- Garnishes of choice
- tortilla, if using
When ready to serve, remove salsa & garnishes and heat the fajitas in a microwave for about two minutes. Serve with the lime, salsa, and garnishes of your choice.
If using a tortilla, to warm, drape over the fajita mixture in the microwave for the last 30 seconds of cooking time.
Shortcut this recipe by using a mix of frozen fajita vegetables.
The Brunswick Stew serves 8. I’d recommend portioning two individual sized containers for meal prep meals for this week & freezing. The rest portion or freeze as appropriate for your family.
to meal prep this recipe:
I’d suggest transporting the stew in a frozen state. Wrap well and add to the container:
- Crackers or Bread
Place in the fridge when the destination is reached. When ready to heat, remove crackers & fruit and microwave for several minutes, stirring once or twice.
grocery list for meal prep chicken
Items in the list are noted with the code for recipe its used for. If you’re not making that item, the code makes it easy to identify & remove. It’s easiest to prep everything, then divide. This is also all on a printable PDF format.
- SBS: Shaved Brussels Salad
- LTD: Lemon Tahini Dressing
- PC: Pulled Chicken
- BEPS: Black Eyed Pea & Rice Salad
- CCS: Carrot & Cabbage Slaw
- VCS: Vietnamese Chicken Salad
- CF: Chicken Fajitas
- BS: Brunswick Stew
The “Rules of Thumb” are always approximate, but you’ll want to cook up about 4 1/2 pounds of the Meal Prep Chicken and divide. Often the sales priced family packs run about 5 pounds. Either freeze a breast or cook it and have a little extra.
- 2 cups sliced (SBS)
- 1 1/2 cups thickly sliced (CF)
- 2 cups diced chicken (VCS)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded (PC)
- 3 cups shredded (BS)
- Olive or other good oil
- Sesame oil, optional (VCS)
- Honey or sugar
- Barbecue Sauce (PC)
- Vinegar, white or rice plus apple cider
- Rice – for Cilantro Lime Rice (BEPS) (CF)
Dried Spices & Herbs:
- barbecue rub, store-bought or home-made – if home-made make sure ingredients are on hand
- dry mustard
- celery or caraway seeds
- fajita seasoning or chili pepper, cumin, garlic powder & cayenne
- Kale: 1/2 medium bunch kale, bite-sized pieces (SBS) (1/2 bunch leftover; add it to your Brunswick Stew if you’d like to) note: If Kale isn’t looking good or terribly pricey, use a lettuce instead.
- Brussels Sprouts: 6 ounces Brussels sprouts, shaved (SBS) (may have leftover if bought packaged)
- Cabbage: 1/4 small cabbage, chunked 1/2″ dice (SBS) + 1/2 head, shredded, divided between (CCS) & (VCS) (about 1/4 head will be leftover)
- Carrots, 4 medium: peeled & shredded, divide between (CCS) & (VCS)
- Potatoes: 4 medium-sized russets peeled & cut into 1″ dice (BS)
- Bell Peppers, 2, preferably red and orange: 1/2 of each diced (BEPS) & 1/2 of each sliced (CF) note: the colored peppers are prettier, but if price is a concern, use green bells
- Onion, 2 large: diced (BS)
- Red Onion, 1 large: 1/4 diced for (BEPS) + about 2 tablespoons diced (VCS) + 1/2 sliced (CF)
- Cucumber, 1: 1/2 julienned (VCS) (1/2 will be leftover) note: This could be eliminated if you don’t wish to use the rest of the cucumber; It is nice in the salad, not essential.
- Green onions, bunch: 2 green onions, sliced (BEPS) (use any extra for garnishing any of the dishes) note: may be omitted if budget is a concern)
- Jalapeno, 1 large: finely minced, 1/2 (BEPS) & 1/2 (VCS)
- Limes, 4: juice 2 1/2 limes and use the equivalent of 1/2 lime (BEPS) + 1/2 (CF) + 1/2 zested & juiced (CLR) + 1 whole lime, juiced (VCS) AND cut 1/2 lime quartered (VCS) 1/2 quartered (CF) (one half lime will be leftover, toss it in or use with any of the dishes)
- Lemon, 1 large: juice and divide, 1/2 (LTD) 1/2 (CLR)
- Garlic, 1 clove: minced (VCS)
- Cilantro, 1 bunch: used in several of the dishes, especially cilantro lime rice. May use parsley or omit if you don’t care for cilantro.
- Avocado, optional: sliced (CF)
- Tomato, optional: diced (CF)
- Any fruit for snacks & to fill out meals (like the Brunswick Stew)
Lima Beans: 2 cups note: a can will work (BS)
- Bread: You may want to serve bread or rolls with the Brunswick Stew, Pulled Chicken & you’ll need about 3/4 cup cubed for the croutons for the Shaved Brussels Salad. If you buy rolls, you could make do with one package.
- Crackers: if wanted (BS) note: may wish to serve with bread, instead.
- White Miso: (LTD) note: Miso keeps very well for a very long time, months, check this Miso Salmon recipe and Miso Ramen is another option.)
- Fish Sauce: (VCS) note: keeps well for months
- Tahini: (LTD) note: may substitute almond butter or another nut butter if not available or very pricey
- Chicken Broth: 3 cups (BS)
- Tomatoes, whole canned: 1 large 29 ounce (BS)
- Tomatoes, diced canned: 1 14 ounce can (BS)
- Corn, canned: kernels or creamed corn (BS) note: frozen is fine, too, if you have it on hand, 1 1/2 cups
- Black-Eyed Peas, 1 Can: (BEPS) (or 1 1/2 cups cooked Black-Eyed Peas, if you cook your own, you’ll want an onion)
- Peanuts: 1/2 cup chopped (VCS) note: check the bulk aisle to buy a small amount.
- Rice Noodles: 1/2 package, prepared, optional (VCS)
- Salsa: (CF)
- Tortillas: optional for (CF)
- Cheddar or Jack cheese, optional (CF)
- Sour cream, optional (CF)
Bacon, 3 slices (BS)
Final Thoughts about Meal Prep Chicken
I think I’ve covered everything I can think about to get you five great meals from this Meal Prep Chicken. This turned out to be one of my more complicated posts by the time I was all finished so let me know if I missed anything. I love all these meals, but what are your fave meals for meal prep?
I’ll be bringing Meal Prep Chicken to Fiesta Friday #214, hosted this week by Abbey @ Three Cats and a Girl and Antonia @ Zoale.com. There’s always a lot of great bloggers & a lot of great recipes, but I couldn’t help but notice a few St. Paddy’s Day & Easter recipes being posted!