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a bowl of shredded chicken

There’s a reason why meal prep has taken off over the last ­decade: It’s a convenient way for many folks to plan and execute recipes. With just one day of cooking, you can have a whole week’s worth of nourishing, ready-to-reheat dishes at arm’s reach.

But this method isn’t without its drawbacks. Though plenty of people love the ease of cooking only once a week, just as many battle boredom from eating the same meals day in and day out, especially because preprepped dishes tend to lose their freshness and vibrancy over time.

Fortunately, there’s a solution for all the home cooks out there who want to take a more minimalist approach to meal prep: component cooking, which is the practice of preparing separate ingredients in advance so they’re at the ready in your fridge or freezer. It’s like having a handful of shortcuts to a variety of flavorful dishes — a real boon for healthy eating when hunger closes in, explains Michelle Tam, best-selling author of Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!

Like meal prep, this approach can help you stick to your grocery budget, reduce food waste, and cut back on your time in the kitchen. Component cooking still involves planning, but it’s not as rigid as meal prep and offers more flexibility across different lifestyles and taste preferences.

Tips for Using Cooked Chicken

Baked, boiled, grilled, or poached, chicken is a stellar protein for component cooking. “I often roast two chickens for the week, shred the meat, and use the bones for bone broth,” Walker explains. “We can do a taco bowl one night, roast some potatoes with seasoning the next night, and add a little barbecue sauce to make chicken sandwiches or a quick salad the next night.”

Refrigerated cooked chicken should keep three to four days when stowed in a sealed container. Get cooking with our Classic Roast Chicken, or use cooked chicken for the base of your own taco night with our advice at “Dinner, Remixed: Tacos.”

Get More Tips on Component Cooking

Component cooking is a clever approach to meal prep that will help you save time and money while allowing you to whip together flavorful and healthy meals during the busy week. Learn how to prep, store, and use several various components in “Easy Meal Prep: How to Start Component Cooking,” the source of this article excerpt.

Camille
Camille Berry

Camille Berry is a wine and food writer based in San Francisco.

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