Protein Prep: chicken, turkey, and pork

I have protein three times a day. It isn't always in the form of meat, but having a freezer stocked with cooked, portioned meat drastically simplifies day to day meal prep.

Chicken Thighs

Thighs have more fat than breasts, which not only makes them taste better to me, but I feel they also retain flavor and moisture better when frozen. I buy boneless, skinless thighs at Costco. They cost more than breasts, but the drastic difference in taste is worth the money for me. I have also prepped breasts this same way and it works just fine, I just don't love the taste. 

8 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste (I also love Trader Joe's Every Day Seasoning when I remember to have it on hand)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare cookie sheet by lining with foil and placing a cooling rack on top of the foil. Lay out the thighs on the rack. Generously coat with salt and pepper.

Place in oven for 20 minutes. 

Take out, flip the thighs, season the other side.

Cook for 20 more minutes.

Allow thighs to cool, then portion them out how you like. Place individual potions in sandwich sized ziplock bags and place in freezer.

It really is that easy.

Ground Turkey

Basically everything that calls for ground beef I substitute ground turkey. It is cheaper, and helps if you are watching your red meat intake. I most often season mine like taco meat, but I also love it with curry powder. I eat mine plain with my veggies and grain, but it could also make a great salad topping.

2 lbs ground turkey
2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Mix all the seasonings together in a small bowl. Brown the turkey on the stove top then drain the juices. Dump in 1/2 c water along with the seasoning mixture and simmer until water is absorbed, stirring regularly.

Allow turkey to cool, then portion it out how you like. Place individual potions in sandwich sized ziplock bags and place in freezer.

I admit this isn't my favorite of the meats I prep, but it is cheap and adds variety.

Pork Shoulder

Hands down the easiest, cheapest and most versatile meat. I eat mine prepped as I will list below, but I often add BBQ sauce to my family's to change things up. We also make carnitas with this meat, which I will share another time. I buy the large pork shoulder cut from Costco then cut the big hunk into 5 smaller portions, wrap them in plastic wrap and place each one in a gallon sized ziplock. I prep one of the 5 smaller chunks on food prep day then stick the others in the freezer to grab and cook individually throughout the month when I need it. 

2 lbs pork shoulder (this is a rough estimate, but exactness isn't necessary)
salt and pepper
2 onions, quartered
2 tbsp minced garlic
water (you can also use broth but water is free and always on hand)

Place pork in crock pot and coat generously with salt and pepper. Place onions around pork. Add garlic. Slowly add enough water to almost cover the meat. Think ice berg, with only a small portion of the meat above the water level. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-5. It can remain slightly pink when done, but will easily pull apart with a for when done.

Use tongs to remove all the pork from the liquid. Allow pork to cool, then portion it out how you like. Place individual potions in sandwich sized ziplock bags and place in freezer.

To Use:
Every night I grab the portions I need for the next day and move them from the freezer to the fridge. They thaw over night and you simply microwave as normal to reheat them when the time comes. Mission protein accomplished! Tomorrow is salmon and tilapia! See you then!

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