Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Wonders of Shredded Chicken

My daughters are attempting to eat healthier, so this post is dedicated to them!  Marissa told me she needed to find things she can make in big batches to eat throughout the week, and also take to work for lunch.  Cassie has mentioned the same thing, packing healthy lunches can be a struggle. My first thought was shredded chicken.  Having pre-cooked, shredded chicken on hand can be a huge time saver in the kitchen, and if you find it one sale it can be kind to your grocery budget as well.

Some tips to start with:
*From everything I have looked up it seems 2lbs of raw boneless skinless chicken breasts = 3-4cups of cooked, shredded chicken.
*The easiest way to cook up all your chicken is in a crockpot.  Cook it all day while you're at work, come home and shred it.  Easy peasy.  From there you can either just leave it in a container in your fridge to use during the week or portion it out and freeze it.  Personally, I would leave out what I was going to use over the next 3 days maybe, and freeze the rest.  But that's just me.  I know it's fine for longer than that in the fridge once it's cooked, but I'm weird about stuff like that!
*The easiest way to shred up all your chicken in in your kitchen aid mixer, trust me on this!  Use the paddle attachment, turn it on low speed and it will shred in seconds.  I find doing 2-3 breasts at a time works best.  If you don't own a stand mixer you can use 2 forks and just shred it up.  Or a Pampered Chef Mix-N-Chop.  That's what I use here since I left my mixer in NY (lucky for you Marissa, now you can shred your chicken quickly!).
*If you plan on freezing some of your chicken make sure you have freezer bags on hand and a sharpie to label your bags!  (Daughter do not try and just put it in sandwich bags, you will end up with freezer burnt chicken and that is a sad, sad thing.)  Also on that note, make sure your chicken is cooled before you freeze it - don't put it in the freezer when it's hot.  That goes for any food, not just chicken.
*Know your crockpot.  The low setting on one of mine is like the high setting on the other one. Yes, I own more than one crockpot - don't judge me :p  The last thing you want is overcooked dry chicken.

So how do you go about cooking all these chicken breasts?  SIMPLE!  Get out your crockpot and put as many boneless, skinless breasts in there as you want. If you're using fresh chicken add about 1/2 cup of water.  If you use frozen you don't need the water as it will make it's own as it thaws.  And yes, you can put the frozen breasts in the crockpot, no need to thaw them first.  Now, most of you know I am a picky food person.  I would cut all visible fat and anything else off the breasts before adding them to the crockpot, but that's because it grosses me out.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.

You can add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, slice up a whole onion and add it - whatever you want.  Just remember if you plan on using this chicken in a variety of dishes you may want to skip the seasoning and add it when you cook your dishes.  I usually just add some salt, pepper and an onion for flavor.  If you are a person who needs a recipe to follow, this one will work.
Shredded Chicken

If you don't own a crockpot, get one!  For real.  You won't regret it - even if you only use to make shredded chicken.  No worries though, until you get one you can use this cooking method.  Stove Top Method  This way just requires more hands on time that the crockpot method.

Now that you have a lot of shredded chicken on hand, you can eat quickly and healthy throughout the week.  Who says "fast" food has to be bad for you?!!  Some of my favorite ways to use this are in tacos and burritos, in soups, and mixed into a tossed salad.  I must get ready for my day, which includes dragging Zach out of bed so we can go grocery shopping at 8:30 (wish me luck on that one, that boy does not like to wake up early!!  But he leaves for college again tomorrow and needs supplies, so... I think he'll get out of bed ok this morning.  I hope...)  I am going to church after that while he goes to play paintball. Since Russ is working today and Zach will be gone, I am hoping to get my crafty on this afternoon - I found a cool project to work on!

Stay tuned, my next post will be various recipes to use this shredded chicken in.  Maybe as soon as this afternoon since the ideas are flowing now!







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