Is Prepackaged Chicken Bad For You?

There are many benefits to buying prepackaged food. It is much more convenient to make when the cooking process has already been completed. Raw chicken, for example, takes a while to prep and cook, but prepackaged and precooked chicken simply needs to be reheated before eating. But is this type of food healthy? It completely depends on the type of chicken you buy.

Processed meat products like chicken patties, nuggets, and tenders are often high in calories and fat (via SFGate). One serving of frozen chicken patties contains almost 300 calories and as much as 20 grams of fat. While healthy fats are essential to a complete diet, processed foods are full of saturated fats which can raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease (via NHS). While it's okay to enjoy processed foods in moderation, you should limit them in your diet and opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead.

Unprocessed frozen chicken is a better option

If you want the convenience of prepackaged chicken but don't want to increase your intake of unprocessed foods, there are still options for you. Plain frozen chicken offers the convenience of being prepackaged but is not loaded with fat and extra calories (via Livestrong). This type of chicken is usually frozen immediately after the meat has been cut to preserve freshness and nutrition. However, you should try to avoid chicken that has been injected with a saline solution. This is a common practice that improves juiciness and flavor but adds a lot of salt. One serving of raw frozen chicken has about 136 calories, 25 grams of protein, and only about three grams of fat.

You can also buy raw chicken and freeze it yourself if you want the convenience of the prepackaged option. When defrosting raw chicken, it is important to follow the correct safety practices. You can either defrost chicken in the refrigerator or microwave. Raw chicken should not be defrosted at room temperature because this puts it at risk of harboring bacteria that can later make you sick.