How to Make Your Own Meal Kits

How to Make Your Own Meal Kits

How to Make Your Own Meal Kits

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

What is a Meal Kit?

Normally, it’s a kit you order online that’s delivered straight to your door. It has pre-portioned ingredients for a provided recipe. Many people love them, and I can understand why. They are convenient. They are cheaper than takeout. And the food turns out well with minimal skills.

However, there is no way to make them work for me and my family. We have too many food restrictions ranging from allergies to weight loss to personally fussy taste.

But whenever I look at the very pretty picture of the menu option for these subscription services, there might be one meal that could maybe work. Generally, it’s something I would file under I’m willing to eat it knowing I won’t enjoy it, like pork chops.

So, I like to make my own meal kits when I meal prep on Sundays. This step speeds up weeknight cooking. It takes out any weeknight guesswork because I already know that I have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go. Meal kits also fit very well with weekly meal planning.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Why You Want to Make Your Own Meal Kit

Some nights you want to eat a home-cooked meal, but every minute really counts. Or you know you are going to be exhausted, and still want a nice homecooked meal.

By making your own meal kits, you know what you are going to eat, and you have a plan to make it happen. Making a meal kit can turn a more adventurous recipe into something a bit more doable after work.

Ways to Go About It

Note that these kits aren’t dump recipes. These are mostly prepping and portioning. A lot of this falls under the easy to medium meal prep levels I describe in my meal prep post.

First, let’s talk about the produce. Some you can slice ahead of time, like onions. Some you can wash ahead of time like apples. And some all you can do is just section them off in the fridge, so they are with the rest of the meal kit, like potatoes.

Then there are the meats. You can buy a large pack of chicken or ground beef on sale and then portion it so it’s ready to go the night of. For foods like chicken, it’s worth the time to pre-cut for kabobs or stir fry. These portions can go into Ziplocks or other food storage containers. I like these pyrex ones because they clean so well and are just the right sizes for a lot of my recipes.

Sometimes you can start the marinade when you make the kit, but you don’t want to start it too early. A nice thing about most marinades, even homemade ones, is that they have a shelf life of at least a few days. You can make a marinade for your kit ahead of time. Just mix and store. This also reduces time-consuming measuring during the week.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Examples            

Here are a couple of examples of meal kits I make.

 

Kabobs 

I make a marinade in the flavor of the week. Then I weigh out the meat I need, usually about 1 pound. Next, I cut it into kabob-sized chunks and store them in a glass container.

For the marinade, I like to mix it up and then set it right on top of the chicken container. Then the morning I plan to make the kabobs, I’ll pour the marinade on the chicken while I’m heating my breakfast.

Later, I’ll start some rice when my husband texts me that he’s finally leaving work. I’ll also put together some sort of simple vegetable side around here (by simple I mean I pour baby carrots into a bowl and if I’m feeling fancy I’ll add a side of fat-free ranch).

Once he’s home I’ll heat up the indoor grill and assemble the skewers. As soon as the grill is hot, they only take 2.5 minutes for a pair. Then we eat and I will have spent less than 15 minutes in the kitchen.

 

Tacos

I love tacos and meal kits let me have more variety. First, I portion the meat. It usually doesn’t need cutting because it’s either already ground or I’m going to shred it after cooking.

Then I’ll prep all the produce (onions, peppers, garlic, etc.) in the food processor. This gets stored in a covered glass bowl next to the chicken in the fridge.

The night of I’ll pour the chicken and sauce into the instant pot and cook to perfection, while I walk the dogs for 30 minutes.

 

I could go on, but why? If you are looking for more recipes, check out my recipe page here.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

 What You Need

There are two things you need before you start making your own meal kits: a plan and food storage containers.

 

A Plan

You need to know not just what you want to eat in the future, but roughly when you want to eat it. I am a strong believer in meal planning because meal planning is awesome.

A weekly meal plan does everything from reducing weekly food stress to helping plan grocery runs. Without my plan, weeknight cooking would be completely overwhelming.

However, if you are overwhelmed by meal planning, you can get my free meal planning worksheet by subscribing to my email list. Also, check out my Chaos Management Series here.

Food Storage Containers

I group my food storage into two categories.

The first is disposable and it’s all about the zip locks. They might not be the best for the environment, but they are clean and you don’t have to clean them afterward. They also come in a lot of different sizes. I favor these for anything I want to be compact, or bunch together.

I can pre-measure and bag toppings or ingredients separately and then throw all the little baggies into one larger zip lock. I find that they store well flat in both my fridge and freezer. If you plan to fill a bunch of zip locks regularly, I recommend these bag holders. They are like giving yourself an extra set of hands in the kitchen.

The second category is reusable storage containers. These are probably greener than the one-time-use plastic baggies, but you have to clean them. I prefer glass to plastic storage because I hate and worry about them staining and smelling. I’ve thrown out way too many plastic ones.

I recommend using glass. I like this pyrex storage set because they stack as well as they clean. In fact, I like them so much that I made my mother get a set too. I like to use these for marinating chicken and storing other ingredients every week.

 

Overall

Making your own meal kits can be an easy and affordable way to cook on a weeknight. The best part about making them yourself is that you can tailor them to fit you.

If you liked this post, please subscribe to my email list with the box below. If you have any questions, I would love to answer them in the comments section. Happy Eating!

How to Make Homemade Pizza on a Weeknight

How to Make Homemade Pizza on a Weeknight

How to Make Homemade Pizza on a Weeknight

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

Homemade Pizza is Amazing

Do you love pizza? I love pizza. My husband loves pizza. You probably love pizza.

For years, I thought that homemade pizza could never rival that of a pizzeria because my oven can only get so hot. I was wrong. I’m sure that there are amazing pizzerias that can make pizza better than I do. But my homemade pizza is better than what I can find in an average pizza joint. We still eat frozen pizza from time to time, but it doesn’t compare to this pizza.

With the right prep work, you can have homemade pizza in less time than it takes to get delivery.

You Can Meal Prep the Dough

Doing the prep work will save you hours the day of. Besides the fact that homemade pizza dough tastes amazing, we can’t have the store-bought for allergy reasons.

An average batch of dough will make about four 12 inch pizzas. Here are some very popular pizza dough recipes. After you have your dough, portion it, wrap it in plastic wrap, and then freeze it. The night before you want pizza, all you need to do is throw it in the fridge and you’ll be ready to go.

Pizza Making Ingredients and Tools

Ingredients and Substitutions

Pizza Dough

You need some sort of pizza dough. Pillsbury pizza crust can do the job. But I strongly recommend making your own. I know it involves yeast, but don’t let that little fungus intimidate you. Try it out on a weekend afternoon.

 

Pizza Sauce

We like Rao’s pizza sauce, but there are so many options out there. Don’t be afraid to try them. We open a jar, and it will keep well in the fridge until the next week.

The important thing to know is do NOT use pasta sauce, it has the wrong consistency. I recommend steering clear of all sauces that claim they are both a pizza and a pasta sauce. Any that do are broadcasting that they are really neither.

 

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella

This cheese will make your pizza absolutely amazing, even if you mess it up a bit. There is something special about this cheese. If you’ve never had it, go out and buy some. It can be a bit pricy, but they now make snack packs, and you can even get larger sealed hunks of it at Costco nowadays.

You can probably use the shredded part-skim, but I predict it won’t melt as well and the flavor will fall short.

We don’t add any other cheeses because the mozzarella is mind-blowing as it is. But if you want to explore, feel free to check out Romano and of course Parmigiano Reggiano. Some people like the powdered Kraft parmesan on their pizzas, and if that’s your thing go for it.

 

Turkey Pepperoni

I was raised on this stuff and so was my husband. For us, this tastes familiar and we like it. But go for the real pepperoni if you are so inclined.  Just remember that a little goes a long way on a 12-inch pizza.

Do note that some sort of heat magic happens to turkey pepperoni in the oven with the pizza stone, where they crisp up just like traditional pepperoni. This crispiness is a feat I have not accomplished elsewhere with the turkey variety.

 

Fresh Basil

I love basil so much that I keep a plant on my balcony. Fresh oregano would also go well if you have some. You can also use dried seasonings like basil, oregano, and garlic powder.

Be gentle with fresh herbs, a little really goes a long way.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Do You Need a Pizza Stone?

The short answer is yes. The science-free explanation is that the stone performs cooking magic to make the crust, sauce, and cheese perfectly combine.

There are many sciency reasons why this occurs. Something about the stone’s thermal mass and its pore structure (this will be material-dependent, with a stronger effect in more porous materials like the manufactured ceramics compared to the more natural stones like granite).

What you need to know is that the stone gets hot and stays hot. Also, thermal shock will cause it to crack, so it needs to be heated and cooled slowly.

Here’s a link to the stone we use. It was a wedding gift and works well for us. We really like the handles. There are many less expensive and very effective pizza stones on the market. Here’s a link to more about choosing and using a pizza stone.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Do You Need a Pizza Peel?

Again, the short answer is yes.

I personally was in denial about this for a long time. Instead, we choose to rapidly assemble the pizza on the hot stone like a pit crew at NASCAR. This was a bad plan. Because the pizza started cooking as we were assembling, we needed to cut our cook time by two minutes. This caused the top of the crust and the cheese to not heat as well.

By having a pizza peel, we can rapidly transfer the pizza straight from prepping onto the hot pizza stone in the oven. Those extra two minutes cook the pizza to absolute perfection.

This is the pizza peel we use. I like it because it’s completely dishwasher safe and even folds to fit into a cabinet, so I strongly recommend it if you are in the market for one.

Detailed Directions

First, wash your hands and wipe down your counters. Then preheat your oven to 450°F.

Next, take your dough out and remove any packaging. I normally take off the plastic wrap and put it in a bowl on the stove. The heat my oven gives off while pre-heating is just enough to warm it up. In our experience, the dough both rolls and cooks better when it’s allowed to reach a bit above room temperature before we start pizza assembly.

Once the oven reaches temperature, wait another 15 minutes. This extra time will ensure that your pizza stone is nice and hot for your pizza. Usually, I’ll preheat, set my dough out, and then walk the dogs.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

You’ll have time to take care of something short on your to-do list. Like folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, or mixing a cocktail.

Potatoes cooking in oven

After that extra time, you can start rolling out the pizza dough and getting out all your ingredients. I roll out my dough on a silicone pastry mat.

I really like the mat for two reasons. First, it helps me make the dough into a circle. Something that would be impossible without the guide circles on the mat. Second, it’s easy to get the pizza dough off the mat and have it stay in a circle. Here’s a link for my mat.

I also like my French rolling pin, but an English can do the same job. Here’s link for that

Pizza dough rolled out on pie mat

I use a food scale to measure out most of my ingredients. This method is especially helpful for pepperoni and cheese. I’m not good at eyeballing the amount nor do I have the patience to count pepperoni.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

After you have all your ingredients ready, you can start assembling your pizza. We like to assemble right on the peel.

Remember to put some flour on your peel before you put on the dough, so it’s easy to transfer into the oven. Then brush some olive oil all over the top of the dough. Next tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni or other toppings.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Bake for 12 minutes but watch it carefully the first time you do this. Each oven is different, and your time may vary. You want to look for browning on the crust and melting cheese.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Remove from oven and enjoy. Remember to turn your oven off and to leave the pizza stone in until the oven cools. Then take the pizza stone out before you need to use the oven again. We forget this step so often that I made a pizza stone sign to remind us to take it out.

3 slices of pepperoni pizza on a white plate

Recipe Notes

There are too many New Yorkers in my family to even consider putting toppings beneath the cheese or, heaven forbid, the sauce on top. It simply isn’t done.

In that same vein, an able-bodied person eating pizza with a knife and fork is sacrilege. Your pizza is made correctly if it’s sturdy enough to eat properly. Folding is acceptable.

3 slices of pepperoni pizza on a white plate

Pepperoni Pizza

With the right prep work, you can have homemade pizza in less time than it takes to get delivery.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 37 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 496 kcal

Equipment

  • Pizza Stone (strongly recommended)
  • Pizza Peel (strongly recommended)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pie Mat (optional)
  • Basting brush
  • Pizza Cutter

Ingredients
  

  • 180 g Pizza Dough Weight will vary by recipe. Make sure you have enough dough for a 12 inch pizza.
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Pizza Sauce
  • 4 oz Fresh Mozzarella
  • 30 g Turkey Pepperoni
  • 4 leaves Basil
  • Flour for dusting
  • Additional Toppings

Instructions
 

  • Put pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450°F.
  • After the oven reaches temperature wait another 15 minutes.
  • Start rolling out pizza dough (12”)with a generous amount of flour.
    Pizza dough rolled out on pie mat
  • Put additional flour on pizza peel and then the dough.
  • Brush the dough with olive oil.
  • Pour on tomato sauce, careful to not have any pooling spots.
  • Quickly transfer the pizza from peel to stone. Bake for 12 minutes and watch it carefully. You want to look for the crust starting to brown and the cheese melting.
  • Remove the pizza from the oven and turn off the oven. Enjoy!

Notes

There are too many New Yorkers in my family to even consider putting toppings beneath the cheese or, heaven forbid, the sauce on top. It simply isn’t done.
In that same vein, an able-bodied person eating pizza with a knife and fork is sacrilege. Your pizza is made correctly if it’s sturdy enough to eat properly. Folding is acceptable.
Keyword Dinner, Weeknight
How to Find Good Recipes

How to Find Good Recipes

How to Find Good Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

Finding recipes can be intimidating but oh so deliciously rewarding. Here are my tips and tricks to picking the good ones.

Finding a Good Recipe is Amazing

A new recipe is a delicious thing. It adds variety and fun to your meals. But it can feel intimidating when you start looking at all the recipes out there.

An untried recipe can make or break an evening. I’ve had so many new recipes turn out terribly. Nowadays, I’m more okay with risking it because I like having a backup plan.

Where to Look

There is always google. I only start here if I’m looking for something specific and I want it right now.

Pinterest is a wonderful place to look for recipes because you can both explore and hoard them. It’s also a great place for inspiration. If you want to check out Caramelized Chaos on Pinterest, click here.

Other social media can be inspiring, but harder to gather recipes. It works if you are looking for the spur of the moment type thing; however, it’s not very effective for meal planning.

Why Recipes Fail

There are many reasons why a recipe that looked delicious on the internet fails when you try to make it in your kitchen.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

It Wasn’t Tested Enough

Sometimes the person who wrote the recipe didn’t test it enough. It is generally recommended to food bloggers that they test their recipes at least 2-3 times before posting. All recipes on Caramelized Chaos are tried at least 3 times after finalization before being posted.

Conversions

Conversions are another common reason for failure. It’s hard to realize how ambiguous some sizing is until you are in the grocery store or actually making the recipe. Just how big should a chicken breast be? Because I can find them at the grocery store up the street at over 1 pound each, but when I think of chicken breast, I mentally imagine something around 6 oz.

Some ingredients are different in different places and these variations can affect more than just taste. Tap water can be hard or soft depending on where you live. Flour has different protein contents depending on where the wheat was grown. If you live far away from farms, it can be near impossible to get the fresh produce you need for certain recipes.

Cook Times

There are so many factors that affect cook time. The first that always comes to mind is doneness. I like all my meat at least medium-well, if not well done. My husband (and most people I know) prefers medium steaks and moist chicken. Some people like their salmon flaky in the center and others just want to sear the outside and enjoy the dark pink center.

Appliance Differences

Is your oven convection? Because that can make or break certain recipes, like roast Turkey for Thanksgiving. My oven does not convect, so I made my Turkey in a bag, and it came out perfectly. But this method was different than my mother’s Turkey recipe because she has had exclusively convection ovens since before I was born.

Is your stove electric or gas? A gas stove controls heat by flame size, but that doesn’t change the temperature of the flame. Electric stoves usually use coils, and the temperature of the coils will change with the settings. This difference is why some people say gas stoves cook hotter. I believe you can cook just as well on an electric stove as a gas one, but you do need to cook differently.

Your Tastes are Significantly Different that the Recipe’s Author

Spiciness is the poster child of this discussion. When I lived in the Midwest, spicy could literally mean black pepper or paprika. Further south, we could be talking about ghost peppers.

It’s important to take into account that what is flavorful to one person is bland to another. As you cook more recipes from a wider variety of sources, you will start to recognize not just what you like, but the intensity of spices you need to be happy with your meal.

Salt to taste is another one of those ambiguous statements. I shamelessly put a lot of salt on my meat when I cook, because I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, so I don’t worry about it. Other people who are watching their blood pressure might omit the salt entirely. There are people out there who love pouring salt on everything and will add salt to their dish regardless of how you season it.

Some people also enjoy fattier foods than others. My husband and I can’t take a lot of heavy cream in our desserts without starting to feel sick (a little goes a long way for us). Other people are happy smothering all their foods in butter. But you should keep this in mind when you are deciding to use a recipe or not.

Skill Level

Perhaps you’re ambitious and trying a recipe a bit outside your comfort zone. The recipe might fail, but you will probably learn a lot by just attempting it. Practice makes perfect and giving those macarons another try could be worth it.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Red Flags

Several things will keep me from even thinking about trying recipes from certain blogs.

Ingredients

People who pay attention to their ingredients while writing recipes will list them in the order they are used. When they are out of order, it’s a sign that there are probably inconsistencies elsewhere in the recipe. So, you need to double-check it before deciding to use it.

Superstitious Instructions

Another red flag is when I see extra fussy instructions. Now I don’t mean detailed instructions, where someone writes in-depth about a cooking skill. But that is when they are teaching a skill.

I’m talking about when are ultra-precise bordering on superstitious about their cooking directions. They don’t just list the order to add things into the pan. Instead, they take almost a printed page of instructions to caramelize the onions and add some spices. If the recipe maker has to be that crazy careful when cooking, the chances are high that it’s not going to be a good recipe.

They Don’t Use Their Own Pictures

I sometimes see stock photos for certain recipes. This is sometimes obvious if the brownies look delicious, but don’t contain the caramel reference in the recipe.

Other times when you research a certain recipe, you will see the same photo repeated across sites and that means they are either stock photos or someone is stealing content. Neither is a good sign. The original author’s recipe might still be good. Thankfully, I don’t think this is a common problem, but keep an eye out for it.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Good Signs

Glowing reviews and lots of stars are classic signs of a quality recipe. But it’s not always there for newer blogs or more unique recipes. There are other aspects you can look at when you are considering a recipe.

 

Cooking Variations

If they talk about how they have tried different ways to cook the dish. This could be certain substitutions, like butter or olive oil. It’s good when they talk about cooking in different places (ovens, stoves, houses).

 

Ingredient Lists

When there are both volume and mass units, it shows that the author took extra care while writing the recipe.

It’s important to quantify ambiguous ingredients, like how big is a medium potato? Flour should really be listed with a mass measurement. If the author has paragraphs describing how to sift flour to get a proper volume measurement, run away.

On Caramelized Chaos, I’m trying to get better at listing both volume (American) and mass measurements on my recipes, because I grew up with more of an eyeball method of cooking.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Be Careful with Changes

When you intentionally change parts of a recipe, it’s not quite as the author originally intended and recommended. So, you need to be careful how you go about this.

 

Substitutions

Always be careful with your substitutions. Some things are relatively safe, like substituting an Anaheim pepper for a poblano. Others you need to do your research first.

You cannot sub most flours at a one-to-one ratio, think white all-purpose flour and wheat flour. Some flours need to think if it’s a good idea in the first place. This is extra true if you are trying to turn a recipe gluten-free.

Oils are another ingredient you need to watch out for. You don’t necessarily want your cookies to taste like olive oil. Besides taste, you need to be careful about smoke points. If you try to deep fry in oil with a low smoke point, you could easily start an oil fire. Please be safe.

 

Cooking Appliances

Take your cooking appliances into consideration

One instant pot is similar to the next, but one oven can be hugely different from another. Some ovens run hot, and others run cold or have cold spots. You might need to adjust cook times or even temperatures to better suit your oven. If you are not sure how to do this, consider getting an oven thermometer.

You also can’t wave a magic wand and transform your standard oven into a convection oven. If you’re like me and have double oven dreams, my little convection toaster oven brings that dream closer to reality.

Electric stovetops just cook differently than gas. If you are making caramel or even pan-frying, you need to be extra careful and adapt how you cook the recipe for your stove.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

Other Considerations

 

Time

People will cut corners on measuring their prep time. They start with diced peppers and washed potatoes. However, it will take you time to prep these ingredients and you need to make sure your schedule allows for it.

There are also certain phrases you need to watch out for, like “leave in the fridge overnight” or “let marinate for at least 30 minutes”. Many recipe authors don’t think that these steps count toward their total time.

So, a chicken recipe that I thought I could throw together on a weeknight, turns into a production because it needs to start marinating the night before.

These omissions are so common that they are almost standard. I don’t think that they inherently reflect badly on a recipe’s quality at this point. But you still need to plan for it.

 

Prep

You need to estimate how much prep time you personally need. It won’t be the same as someone else. It might not even be as long as last time as your cooking skills improve or you buy additional appliances to help you out. A recipe that I know I can prep in the food processor takes a lot less time than a recipe I can’t.

Also, will you need to acquire a specialty item? I worry that online orders won’t arrive on time or that I won’t be able to make it out to a specialty store. Think about any extra work required before you decide to commit to a recipe. I don’t want to dissuade you from trying new things, but I don’t

 

Be Generous with Yourself

If you are trying something you’ve never done before, give yourself a bit extra, like extra time.

Extra kindness if it doesn’t turn out perfectly.

Perhaps, a gift of extra spare ingredients. Maybe consider stashing an extra meal as a backup safety net (frozen pizza is always a favorite).

Overall 

You can tell a lot about a recipe by reading it carefully. Don’t be afraid to read it more than once before you commit.

If you found this post helpful, please subscribe to my email list where you will get weekly advanced chaos management techniques and my free meal planning worksheets.

How to Make Seasoned Chicken Breast in Under 10 Minutes

How to Make Seasoned Chicken Breast in Under 10 Minutes

Seasoned Chicken on white cutting board

How to Make Seasoned Chicken Breasts in Under 10 Minutes

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

Fast Cooking Can Be Delicious

You’re a busy person and if you’re like me your time and patience can be in limited supply. So simple chicken cooked fast is right up our alley. This simple seasoned chicken breast comes out hot and delicious. It goes with whatever you are in the mood for a salad, wrap, rice, or just by itself.

Panini Press

My secret to cooking it so quickly is to use a panini press that doubles as an indoor grill. It cooks quickly because it heats the top and bottom of the food at the same time.

I cook on mine all the time. Besides chicken breasts and paninis, we also make everything from burgers to kabobs. And they all cook nice and fast.

DeLonghi Panini Press

Above is a picture of my panini press. It’s a DeLonghi (they make more than coffee and espresso machines). I’m not sure if I would recommend it. I will say that cooks super well. It gets five out of five stars on cooking. The tilting top plate is wonderful. It’s just a pain to clean. I’ve gotten faster at it, but cleaning will add 5-10 minutes of drudge work after a meal.

 

When to Make this Recipe

When you want food now. For the kind of hungry where I’m so hungry, I actually want my food to have arrived five minutes ago, but I will settle for this instant.

It’s also great for the middle of a busy day. I’ll make this chicken and eat it on a salad, which is lunch made fresh and eaten in less than 30 minutes. I love hot chicken on a cold salad. Cold chicken doesn’t do it for me.

Detailed Directions

First, I always recommend washing your hands and giving your countertops a quick wipe down. Then take out the panini press, plug it in, and set it to medium.

Sliced apple and rolling pin

As it heats up, start working on your chicken. My panini press makes 2-3 breasts or 5-6 tenderloins at a time. It’s important to choose thinner cuts because of how they cook on the press. The goal is for a nice char on the outside, but tender on the inside.

Seasoned Raw Chicken on White Plate

Sprinkle seasoning on both sides of your chicken. Almost everything goes with chicken from your standard salt and pepper to premade seasoning mixes. I’m currently obsessed with the Southwest seasoning from Target.

Wait for the press to reach temperature. I usually start assembling my salad as I wait for the green light to turn on. Once it reaches medium temperature and your chicken is ready, spray the press with food release and put your chicken in.

Seasoned Chicken Tenderloins on Panini Press

Then turn the knob to high and let cook for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes at high, turn the knob back to medium and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. This brief high heat will give you nice char marks and crisp the outside, while keeping the inside moist, just like a real grill.

Seasoned Chicken on Cutting Board

Remove your chicken from the press and let it sit for a minute. If you have a thicker piece of meat or you’re just nervous, check your food with a meat thermometer. Then you can slice and enjoy!

Shredded Seasoned Chicken

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Sliced apple and rolling pin
Seasoned Chicken on white cutting board

Seasoned Chicken Breast

This simple seasoned chicken breast goes with whatever you are in the mood for a salad, wrap, rice, or just by itself.
Prep Time 4 mins
Cook Time 6 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 228 kcal

Equipment

  • Indoor Grill or Panini Press

Ingredients
  

  • 6 oz Chicken Breast
  • Favorite Seasoning
  • Food Release

Instructions
 

  • Set panini press to medium.
  • Season both sides of chicken breast.
    Seasoned Raw Chicken on White Plate
  • Wait for the press to reach temperature.
  • As soon as you’re ready, turn the press to high and put your chicken in the press.
    Seasoned Chicken Tenderloins on Panini Press
  • Keep on high for 3 minutes. Then turn down to medium and cook for another 3 minutes. If you have a thicker breast, you will need to increase your time at medium.
  • Let chicken rest for one minute. (Optional)
    Seasoned Chicken on Cutting Board
  • Slice and enjoy!
    Shredded Seasoned Chicken
Keyword Chicken, Dinner, Lunch, Weeknight
Are food processors worth it?

Are food processors worth it?

Are Food Processors Worth It?

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. Read my full privacy policy here.

The BIG question, “Are food processors worth it?”

For me, the answer is YES. It saves time. It makes larger portions with ease because it’s a meal prepping wonder machine. And it performs small miracles for holiday cooking when there is so much cooking to do, but so little time.

If you don’t cook a lot or have the knife skills of a ninja, then it’s probably not worth it for you.

My Food Processor

Red 7 cup KitchenAid Food Processor

This is one of my favorite wedding gifts. It’s a KitchenAid 7-cup food processor. It came with two attachments, a multi-purpose blade, and a reversible slicing/shredding disc.

The multi-purpose blade is by far the one I use the most on everything from onions to Oreos. The disc is good for cheese. It’s probably good for other foods as well, but I use it to grate block cheese (an essential step in our family’s mac and cheese).

I love this appliance so much. I use it every week for meal prep. And every part cleans beautifully in my dishwasher.

Time Savings

Your time is precious, and a food processor can help you make the most of it. Saving time is the number 1 reason why I love my food processor and why I think you would love one too. Time is valuable and anything that helps make the most of it is valuable too.

A food processor cuts everything in a fraction of the time it would take me, especially onions. I hate cutting onions. My husband hates being in a kitchen where onions are being cut. We are a couple of wimps when it comes to onions.

But this machine could cut onions all day. It turns a pile of veggies into a sauce for my instant pot in moments (my favorite method to sneak more veggies into our meals).

It’s normal for us to use our food processor to cut a bunch of veggies for meal prep. Wash it. Then turn around to make a cookie crust without fear of it tasting like onions. It just keeps going.

It Helps Me Make Large Portions

It is a meal prepping machine. If you meal prep habitually, a food processor could significantly speed up your prep time. This is a tool that makes meal prep possible for a person like me.  

I can make a triple batch of meatballs or two pounds of chicken tacos, without being overwhelmed by how much needs cutting. There’s also the added bonus that all the food stays in the bowl and doesn’t fall off the cutting board where little doggie mouths can reach (I’m looking at you, Poppy).

Poppy looking innocent in the kitchen

Holidays

Holiday cooking combines not having a lot of time with needing to make huge amounts of food into a single event. A food processor takes away a substantial amount of that stress. So much so, it will live out on my precious counter space for the holiday instead of in its usual cabinet residence.

There are so many dishes to use this for I don’t know where to begin. Thanksgiving is always a foodie favorite with as many dishes as I can find space for. Many needing things in small pieces like veggies, cheese, and crumbs.

Then there are the Jewish classics like latkes and charoset, both of which I have tried to make without a food processor and vowed to never do so again. (I’m serious. Don’t host Passover without one of these unless it’s potluck style.)

Overall

If you are a busy person, this device will help you in the kitchen. Even getting a mini one can help save time if you are only cooking for one. There are many different food processors on the market and many different price points, so I think there is one out there just for you.

You could easily love yours just as much as I love mine.

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