I Don’t Meal Prep, But I Do Buy Rotisserie Chicken

Food Features Meal Prep
I Don’t Meal Prep, But I Do Buy Rotisserie Chicken

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that I want to do with my Sunday afternoon less than meal prep. Is it the mature and fiscally responsible thing to do? Maybe. But the thought of sacrificing one of my only two weekend afternoons to plan out a whole week of meals I probably won’t even want to eat after the first day anyway is deeply depressing to me. By Thursday, the idea of eating days-old baked chicken breast and soggy roasted vegetables is the stuff of nightmares.

But I don’t think I’m better than you, meal preppers. Truthfully, I’m jealous that you have the discipline and mental fortitude to plan out healthy, balanced meals for yourself ahead of time. I’m envious of all the extra time you must have during the week because you’re not forced to cook on a daily basis. And I can only imagine that your bank account is more well-padded than mine, which is frequently depleted by two or more takeout orders a week.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that I’m just not the meal prep type. Though I’ve never gone all out and planned a whole week of meals in advance, I’ve definitely attempted to make at least a few meals in advance, cooking larger portions than I otherwise would to ensure I had leftovers later in the week. All too often, though, the time would come to eat those previously prepped meals, and they would seem supremely unappetizing to me, especially after sitting in the fridge for more than a day or two. Maybe I’m picky, or maybe I’ve spoiled myself too much with the aforementioned takeout. Regardless, I’ve unequivocally failed at meal prepping in all its forms—except one.

I guess “meal prepping” is a generous definition for a method I’ve adopted for feeding myself on especially busy weeks. This method involves walking to the nearby Star Market and making a beeline for the deli, where hot, crispy, occasionally overcooked rotisserie chickens sit in their plastic bags, waiting to be devoured by overworked parents of school-aged children. And me, I guess.

As someone who learned how to cook during a short but intense vegan era, I’m not confident in my meat-cooking skills. I can make crispy air fryer tofu and lentil-packed vegetable soup for days, but when it comes to roasting a bird, I am lost and intimidated. Buying a rotisserie chicken, then, is one of the easiest ways for me to get some protein into my diet on weeks when cooking full meals from scratch feels daunting.

The night I bring the chicken home, warm and cozy in its nest of packaging, I eat a leg or maybe two, a wing if I’m not super hungry. From that point, the rest of the chicken goes in the fridge, ready to be picked at for the rest of the week. It can then be used to make salads, soups, stir frys, sandwiches… basically, anything that calls for cooked chicken. And since cooking protein is often the most time-consuming part of putting a meal together, it ends up cutting down on the time I spend in the kitchen throughout the week.

The best rotisserie chicken meal of them all, though, is the one you eat when the chicken is dwindling, when there are just a few pieces left to pluck from the carcass. These are best enjoyed cold, eaten over the sink, a glass of white wine in hand. It may perhaps be the purest form of girl dinner.

Despite my reservations about grocery store rotisserie chicken, I think this method of feeding myself when doing so feels difficult strikes a balance between responsibility and indulgence, between discipline and ease. Do I wish I was the kind of person who had their life together enough to plan out a whole week of meals on Sunday, who goes to bed feeling the warm glow of being a responsible, type A person? Yes. But, alas, I am not that person. Buying a rotisserie chicken instead, though, reminds me that in some cases, perfection is a lost cause. Good enough actually can sometimes be good enough. And maybe, just maybe, I can survive without ordering takeout four times in a single week.

Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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