Family, Meal Planning

Whole Chicken Simplicity + My One Word

Hey there!  How has 2018 been treating you so far?  We’re only 2 weeks in, so hopefully you haven’t written this year off yet!  So….question: do y’all make New Year’s resolutions?  If so, what are they and how are those going so far?  I know in years past, I usually don’t fall off the wagon until at least week 3…so I’m doing pretty good so far!

Actually, this year I decided to forgo resolutions (since I rarely stick to them) and instead chose a word that I can focus on throughout the year that zeros in on the person I want to be, rather than the negative habits I want to change about myself.  The concept comes from this book , which (real talk) I have not read yet but hope to make time to do so sometime this year.  Luckily, their website has this awesome little cheat sheet that walks you through the process of choosing your word.  I put a lot of time into thinking about my word, and landed on this:

Present.

Or rather, be present.

I’m a very task and list driven person.  I have grocery lists, to-do lists, home improvement lists…you name it.  I sometimes even have a mental list of things I need to add to my lists!  And once I make a list, I have one goal: complete it.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve found that over the last couple of years, that can become my main focus throughout the day…and I really miss out on the things that are truly important and that bring me joy.

This realization really stemmed from watching my helpless little newborn magically transform into an awesome, funny 2 year old in the blink of an eye.  It’s the realization that my little guy is growing up so fast, and I’ll never get this time back with him, especially once our newest addition arrives in a few months….so how have I missed it?  Where the heck have I been??

I’ve been completing lists.

I’ve been missing out on precious little moments with my son, my husband, family, friends….to spend time completing checklists that are ultimately unimportant.  You guys, I feel so blessed that I’m even allowed the opportunity to be a stay at home mom.  And I definitely don’t want to look back years from now and only remember all of the things I checked off of my lists.

So, when my son wants to sit and read books with me for an hour after he gets up from his nap…instead of cutting that time short so I can do a load of laundry, I’m trying to be present and savor that moment.

I want to be present when my husband wants to tell me about his day, instead of being on my phone looking at the  grocery ads and mentally planning next week’s meals.

When I get to visit with family and friends, I want to be present and enjoy that time…instead of being distracted by what time I need to leave to get my son down for a decent nap.

Seriously guys, I’m only two weeks in and I already feel more joy in my life….and it has nothing to do with how much I can or cannot accomplish throughout the day.

With all that being said, I’ve also made changes to meal planning…to make life simpler so I don’t HAVE to cut my time short with the ones I love.  That’s why I made this nifty little meal planning guide a few weeks ago: half the work is done…I just have to find a few meals that fit into those “categories”.

Something else that’s made mealtime a breeze?  Two words:

Whole chicken.

You guys….my life is changed!!!  OK, a little dramatic…but it’s definitely been simplified.

Over the last few Sundays, I’ve been throwing a whole chicken in my pressure cooker and BAM!  Fully cooked chicken for the rest of the week to do with what you please.  Here’s how it’s simplified my life:

  1. A whole chicken is cheap.  And they pretty much stay cheap, which eliminates the need for me to find the best deal on chicken breasts (or whatever other cut of chicken) for the week.  Aldi and HEB both sell their whole chickens for less than $1/pound, meaning you can get a 5 pound chicken for about $5.  That’s a steal you guys.
  2. If you have an Instant Pot (or other kind of pressure cooker), you can have a fully cooked chicken in about 40 minutes.
  3. You can eliminate an entire step in many recipes.  Alot of recipes call for you to add cooked chicken to your dish before baking/slow cooking/etc.  Cooking something before you can cook something is one of my biggest pet peeves in the kitchen!  By having fully cooked chicken already in your fridge, you can eliminate that entire step and save a bunch of time

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, not to worry!  There are lots of ways to cook your chicken: pressure cooker, oven, Crock-Pot, etc.  I have a Pinterest board fully dedicated to simple methods of cooking a whole chicken, so check it out if you need some ideas.  Here’s a few to get you started:

On that same board, I’ve also pinned lots of recipe ideas to use your chicken in throughout the week.  Yes, this comes in super handy when cooking dinner; but I find the real bonus is the additional protein you can add to your lunches by throwing some chicken in there.  Salads, wraps, chicken salad sandwiches…what a fun way to spice up your lunch!

A few things to remember:

  1. Most grocery stores sell fully cooked rotisserie chickens…and if you can find a good deal on one, go for it!  Just be careful: I found a $6 rotisserie chicken at Walmart the other day, and was super pumped that it was already cooked AND basically the same price as a whole raw chicken.  But then I looked at the weight, and it wasn’t even 2 pounds.  No thanks.  If you want to buy a rotisserie chicken, it’ll still simplify your cooking…maybe just not your wallet.
  2. Save those chicken bones!  Once you debone your chicken after it’s cooked, use those bones for some yummy homemade chicken broth.
  3. Although this is a great way to use chicken in your meals throughout the week, I don’t suggest letting your cooked chicken hang out in your fridge for the whole week.  Cooked chicken should really only stay in your fridge for 3-4 days.  I try to roughly figure out how much I’ll need for the next few days, and then I freeze the rest.  When you run out, take enough out of the freezer for a few more days, and go from there.

I’d love to know some of your kitchen short cuts, as well as the resolutions you’ve made to work towards a better you.  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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