Today I'm sharing one of my favorite money and time saving tips in the kitchen. I mentioned it in THIS post and have had so much interest, I decided it needed it's own post.
I usually buy the family sized packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I find them on super sale. Trimming, cutting, cooking and cleaning up after meat every night makes dinner take so much longer, so I have learned a trick to cut a ton of time off my nightly meal preparation. I cook all the chicken at once in the Crockpot! Here's how I do it:
1. Cut an onion into chunks and layer half of it on the bottom of my Crockpot.
2. Layer the whole family pack (about 8 breasts) into the Crockpot.
3. Place remaining onion pieces over the top.
4. Optional: Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika
5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours or until chicken is done through and tender.
This is what it looks like when it's done:
6. Put each chicken breast into it's own plastic bag with a spoonful of the juices from the bottom of the Crockpot. This will keep it moist when you defrost it. I use regular zip-lock bags because I use the chicken quickly. If your chicken will be in the freezer for a while, you might want to use freezer bags.
7. Put all the individual bags of chicken into a bigger bag. This keeps the chicken all in one place in the freezer so it's easier to find, and it adds another layer of protection from freezer burn. I recycled an old bread bag and totally felt like a grandma for doing it, but it's earth-friendly and budget-friendly, so who cares?!
I use chicken cooked this way in all my soups, sandwiches, casseroles, and pasta dishes.
Some of the benefits of pre-cooking chicken in the Crockpot:
1. I am not a fan of touching raw chicken. Ew! It's just gross. This method reduces the amount of raw-meat-touching because I can basically just dump it straight from the package into the Crockpot.
2. There are a dozen recipes I can make in less than 20 minutes because I have my chicken cooked and ready to go.
3. It reduces dishes. One pot to clean instead of busting out the frying pan for every meal. And even though the Crockpot looks scary, if I soak it overnight, the baked-on crud comes right off.
4. The chicken is just plain tasty cooked this way! It's so juicy and tender. Yum!
5. When I've got pre-cooked chicken in my freezer, I am not tempted to spend money eating out because I know a home-cooked meal is only a few minutes away.
6. In the summer when it's hot, I don't have to heat up my house by using the oven or stove top.
You can do the same thing with ground beef. How nice would it be to buy a 10 lb chub, cook it all up, divide it out, freeze it, then have meat for tacos, sloppy joes or casseroles done and ready to go? Talk about a time saver!
Update: You asked for it...here are 30 recipes using pre-cooked chicken! Enjoy!