Over the last few weeks I have been doing a lot of meal prepping, since I have to work long, crazy hours for my new job. So far my go-to foods for this meal prep have been chicken and rice, but this gets very very VERY bland quickly. I’ve started to combat this by using flavor packets to mix with both my chicken and rice. The ready-to-use seasonings are really quick and add the much needed flavor to these bland foods.
At your local grocery store, head to the packaged soup isle near gravy, chili, and crock-pot ingredients (we always wander around the store trying to remember where this is). Our King Soopers stocks a variety or BBQ, taco, and Asian flavorings here. I grab any seasoning pack that I think looks good, but I make sure to check the calories. Most flavor packets don’t have many (about 100 cals in a five serving packet), but I have seen some that have a ridiculous 400 calories a pack! Every little bit adds up, so stay on track.
Keep reading for my tested and tried flavor combinations
We invested in a rice cooker–best thing ever– and I add the seasonings per Tupperware. This way I can have a variety of flavors from a single batch of rice. I have found that a small amount of liquid is necessary to make the seasoning stick to the rice.
Soy sauce: My go to, best ever, will never get old seasoning. Soy sauce doesn’t have very many calories and helps to add some moisture to the rice. Basically it just adds a little taste, and it can be combined with all of the Asian seasonings that I use on my rice. If you chose not to use soy sauce then you might want to consider adding some water into your flavor packet so the rice doesn’t get dried out. We buy reduced sodium soy sauce so I don’t go overboard on the salt.
Fried Rice: I thought this one was going to be awesome, but it turned out to be a little underwhelming. No distinguishable flavor or burst of… anything… was in my rice. I think the issue is that the flavoring doesn’t taste strong enough to make enough of a difference alone.
Stir Fry: This was my favorite seasonings. It adds enough flavor to the rice without adding too many calories. I highly recommend grabbing a packet next time you are eating some rice.
Asian Beef: I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised by this flavoring. While it was not my favorite, it was a very nice change of pace. After eating rice day after day, a lot of the rice seasonings like soy sauce, stir fry, and fried rice start to taste the same, but this flavoring stood out a little more. If you are craving a meaty taste, but don’t have the calories or budget for beef, this can be a great substitution
Taco: This seasoning was my least favorite that I tried. I didn’t use any soy sauce with this packet and the rice turned out a little dry. Overall the flavor didn’t work as well with the rice as the Asian seasonings did. Perhaps if I substituted Spanish rice and added a little salsa the combination would have worked.
For chicken –
I use the seasoning like a dry rub BEFORE grilling the chicken. The powder creates a thin crust to add a little crunch and burn to the meat. This technique has amped-up my chicken game, and I can never go back to simply baking bland breasts.
BBQ Applewood: This is a smokey flavor that pairs well with the grilled chicken. I am not sure it would be as good if only baked. This seasoning packs a few more calories, but has become my staple.
Taco: While this flavoring didn’t work well on the rice, it is amazing on chicken. The taco seasoning adds a lot of flavor at a reasonable number of calories. It takes me 1 packet, which is 125 calories, to cover around three pounds of chicken. It is well worth the 20 extra calories per meal for the added flavor. Taco seasoning also seems to hold its flavor better than the other seasoning packets I have used. Because I make all of my food for work on the weekends, the flavor has to hold up to five days.
- The taco comes in three flavors: hot, regular, and mild. I was never one for spicy, but Hayley has converted me. I use the medium or the hot on my chicken. Some of the powder is burned off during the cooking process, so I find that the mild packet doesn’t shine through. If you are afraid of the heat, I would recommend medium and working up.
- We also tried a Fajita flavor. It was similar to the regular, but featured more smokiness. I was not a huge fan, and Hayley didn’t like it at all.
Don’t be lured by the wall of liquid sauces. These often contain triple the calories and you don’t know what oil was mixed in. If you want a yummy meal without all the baggage, find the packets and experiment with your favorites. Let us know how you like to season your meat and rice!
-Stay consistent out there