Chicken is a meal-prep staple for a reason. It's easy to prepare in bulk and it's basically a blank slate when it comes to how you want to prepare or season it. You can shift from Taco Tuesday to an Italian-style dish to a curry with the same batch of chicken breasts, so you skip food boredom while making life in the kitchen a lot simpler. And chicken is perfect for young athletes: A serving (3.5 ounces) of chicken provides 19 grams of protein in 165 calories. That means it is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your athlete is getting the protein they need to keep muscles building and recovering even during tough practice and game weeks. For the frazzled parent running between practices and game day, it's a no-brainer.
Here, TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, shares a few of her favorite ways to stretch a simple chicken meal prep into five fun meals that even picky eaters will love.
Day 1: Cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker or Instant Pot
Why it's great: "The whole chicken is great because it’s iron-rich and protein-balanced, and by adding carbs from potatoes and veggies, this is an easy one-pot meal. Bonus: only one dish to clean!"
How to make it:
Put whole chicken into slow cooker or Instant Pot with chopped potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and onion, and a small amount of water (about an inch of water around it). Use the 'poultry' setting on an Instant Pot, or set your slow cooker for eight hours on low. Feel free to swap out the vegetables you're using to account for your young athlete's favorites: String beans, sweet potatoes, beets, and cauliflower can all be great options. You can add whatever spices you prefer; poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and oregano are all easy options to add flavor. Serve with your athlete's choice of sauce, like salsa, guacamole, ketchup, honey-mustard, etcetera. During cleanup, strip the chicken of extra meat and store in the fridge. Decant the remaining broth at the bottom of the slow cooker into a glass container and store that in the fridge as well—or freeze for later use.