January 28, 2013 by Lauren Grider
If you asked me to name one thing that has drastically improved my quality of life in the past year, I would choose learning to cook a whole chicken in a crock pot. Seriously, hear me out.
Last year I was having a bit of a meltdown over cooking dinner. Between my career, staying active, choreographing for Zumba classes, keeping the house looking reasonable, and family commitments, I was having a very hard time with cooking dinner every night. All too often I would arrive home exhausted after work and fall into the trap of eating out. Then I was introduced to this fantastic site called Once A Month Mom by a friend at a Weight Watchers meeting. This is a site focused on providing meal plans for bulk cooking and make-ahead meals for families. I am not a mom, and I only have a family of 2, but this is a fantastic resource for everyone. It is definitely not just for moms. It was here that I found the recipe that forever changed my life:
The recipe could not be simpler or more delicious. It makes a perfect roasted chicken every time. The chicken is fall-off-the bone tender. I make a 4 or 5 lb organic chicken, then I shred it and use it for multiple meals. Anyone who has cooked for 2 for long knows how hard it is to cook just the right amount. The shredded chicken that this recipe makes is versatile enough to be used in a variety of meals and keeps well in the fridge. I don’t ever think, chicken again?! It feels like having something different and not “just leftovers.” After shredding it, I weigh out portions and seal them in individual plastic bags. I store them in the fridge for up to 4 days, or I use the chicken right away if I am having a big cooking day. The shredded chicken is a great base for many of my staple meals, like BBQ stuffed potatoes, chicken casserole, chicken soups, chicken quesadillas, and chicken tacos. I can routinely get 3-4 meals that yield 4 servings each out of one $9 chicken.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, I give you the companion recipe: Crock Pot Chicken Stock. Use the bones from the Crock Pot Chicken recipe above, place back in crock pot, add veggies and water, and cook overnight on low.
If you told me last year that I would reach a point in my life at which I could make homemade chicken stock, I would’ve laughed at you. Now I make it several times a month. I store it in various serving sizes in the freezer. You can even freeze small amounts in ice cube trays to add flavor to rice, etc. Often I add the shredded chicken back to the chicken stock to make… you guessed it! Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. By the way, this soup freezes beautifully and you can play around with the amount of pasta you use to drastically alter the Weight Watchers Points Plus value in your favor. I often freeze the soup in individual serving sizes in airtight plastic containers with lids and have them for lunch. A 1 cup serving unfreezes beautifully when microwaved on high for 5-6 minutes. I often have a serving of the soup with a Chobani, an apple and some water for a power foods-rich, filling lunch for a very reasonable Points Plus price. The soup is also great served with grilled cheese sandwiches!
Hooray for Once a Month Mom and 100 Days of Real Food!