If you're looking for a substitute for red meat, consider healthy frozen chicken. This protein takes well to a number of cooking methods and is readily available. Frozen chicken vs. fresh chicken is often cheaper and has the added benefit of having longer storage times than fresh chicken does.
If you don't want to cook your fresh chicken right away, you can also freeze it.
Frozen chicken is a healthy source of protein. Store, thaw and cook it properly to reduce risk of foodborne illness.
Consider Healthy Frozen Chicken
Commercially frozen chicken is often blast chilled or flash frozen to preserve as much nutrition, texture and freshness as possible. A quick freezing process prevents the fluid inside the chicken from turning into large crystals, which can cause faster deterioration in texture and nutrition.
In some cases, commercially frozen chicken is injected with a saline solution, which means it has a high salt content.
Flash-frozen chicken has a nutritional profile similar to fresh chicken's, as the process does not use any preservatives, although blast-chilled chicken may have more additives.
A 4-ounce serving of raw, skinless fresh chicken has 136 calories per serving, with a little over 25 grams of protein and only 3 grams of total fat, according to the USDA. Chicken is also a source of iron, potassium, vitamins K and A, and B vitamins, particularly niacin.
Frozen Chicken Vs. Fresh
In addition to buying prefrozen chicken, you can also freeze fresh chicken. It can last up to one year in a freezer that is zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower, according to the USDA.
To freeze chicken at home, portion out the chicken into the serving sizes you want, and then wrap the chicken in butcher wrap or place the servings in freezer bags.
Remove as much air as possible from between the packaging and the meat to reduce freezer burn and minimize the amount of space taken up in the freezer.
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Safely Defrost Chicken
To cook frozen chicken, you first have to safely defrost it. The USDA recommends three safe ways of defrosting chicken: in the fridge, in the microwave or submerged in cold water.
If the chicken is stored in airtight packaging, you can soak the chicken in cold water, changing the liquid every half an hour. If the bag leaks, bacteria can get into your meat.
To defrost in the fridge, place the wrapped chicken in on a plate and let it slowly defrost. Thawed chicken can safely remain in the refrigerator for one to two days before cooking. You can also refreeze the meat if you decide not to cook it right away.
In the case of microwave and cold-water defrosting, the chicken needs to be cooked immediately — some areas of the chicken can become warm or actually start to cook during the thawing process, particularly when thawing in a microwave.
Plan ahead if you decide to thaw chicken in the fridge. A whole chicken can take more than 2 days to thaw completely.