Chicken, Ice Cubes, and the Beauty of Systems

Posted by Sarah Angst on

I grew up in a less than organized or systematized household. The emphasis was always on the next adventure instead of on cleaning up after the last one. It wasn’t until I started living with my husband Tim that I realized systems can be liberating instead of limiting. For example, as a kid if you wanted some ice in a beverage there was a 95% chance that the ice cube trays in our freezer contained less than 3 cubes, if any. And it wasn’t long ago that I was teasing my dad for leaving an ice cube tray half full on the counter after making a drink at the cabin. The unused cubes just sitting there melting away.

Until I met Tim, this seemed perfectly normal, why prepare for a future task, when you’re trying to hurry up and savor your ice cold beverage? Tim on the other hand had a system. None of the past 5 homes we’ve lived in have had a fridge with an ice maker, until our current one. So for years we manufactured our own ice. It took me a bit to get into the routine of it, but once the concept sunk in, I was hooked.

Step 1. Freeze 2 trays of ice cubes.
Step 2. If you need ice dump those two trays into a gallon freezer bag and take what you need.
Step 3. Refill trays with water and freeze.
Step 4. Repeat as needed until bag is full.

Presto! Unlimited supply of ice always on hand.

I am now obsessed with systems. I have not implemented as many as I hope to someday, but I am enamored by them and their ability to make things easier. They eliminate the need to reinvent the wheel every single time. There is bound to be a system that can streamline and simplify most things you do consistently. Like cooking chicken breasts for instance...

This is kind of random, but it’s one of my favorite systems that I have been using for about 6 months now. I found it through @thekitchn website’s post “How To Cook Moist & Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time,” photo credit @leelacyd , and it basically has 4ish steps.

1. Heat pan at high heat with a dollop of oil.
2. Season one side of chicken breasts and place seasoned side down in pan.
3. Season other side, cover, and set a timer for 1 minute.
4. Flip breasts over, cover, and set timer for 1 minute.
5. Leave covered and turn heat down to low and set timer for 10 minutes.
6. Turn off heat and set timer for 10 minutes. DONE!

This is my interpretation of the directions, but it works so well! You don’t have think about it, temp it, wonder if it’s cooked or if it’s going to get dry; plus it gives you a whole 20 minutes to prepare the rest of your meal without another thought to the chicken. If you have really thick chicken breasts you might want to pound them out a bit with the bottom of a pint glass before cooking, but 95% of the time you don’t even have to do that.4

We eat a lot of salads for dinner, something I will elaborate on in another post, and many of our salads have chicken on them, so this is a fool proof system for cooking “…Moist & Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time.” I am always looking for these tips and tricks, something that you can do the same way over and over, that will save time, and simplify one tiny area of your life. One of my favorite people to learn tips, tricks, and systems from is @jordanpage and her @funcheaporfree YouTube videos. She is an inspiration! I even took her Productivity Boot Camp course, it was great, but it will be a lifelong project for me to systematize my world. I wish it was an innate part of who I am, but like so many of us, I’m figuring it all out as I go.

What are some of your favorite systems that help simplify your life? I’d love to hear any helpful tips or tricks you have!

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