If you’ve ever looked up recipes for homemade almond butter, you’ve probably seen pictures of food processors – shorter and wider than a blender, with a little plastic cylinder sticking out the top. If you don’t already own one, it might seem impractical to buy a whole appliance just for a few recipes, but actually, food processors are useful for all kinds of things! They’re rarely pictured in recipe progress photos because they’re not very photogenic, but unless you require your kitchen to look Instagram-worthy at all times, that’s nothing to stress over.
So if you don’t have a food processor – or if you have one that’s just gathering dust because you don’t really know how to use it – here’s how to make Paleo easier and cheaper by making the most out of your food processor. It’s especially great for…
- Big families.
- Cutting down on food prep time.
- DIY food projects.
A food processor isn't the same thing as a blender, but a bunch of these techniques do also work just as well with an ordinary blender (or can be adapted to one); those are all noted so the blender-owners can play along.
Add Nutrients to your Diet (can also use a blender)
You know what’s incredibly nutritious, super cheap, and easy to add to hamburgers, meatloaf, meatballs, soup, and stew? Liver.
If you just crinkled up your nose and made a little disgusted noise, then you’re probably a cook in need of some Secret Ingredient Liver. You will need:
- A recipe for some kind of dish made with ground meat. If you’re out of ideas, try this.
- Liver from the same animal that the ground meat was from (e.g. if you’re using ground beef, use beef liver. If you’re using ground pork, use pig liver).
Blend up the liver with some water in your food processor (a blender works just as well) until you get a thin paste. You’ll probably have more liver than you want for one recipe; divide it into single-use amounts and freeze all but one of them (ice cube trays work well).
Using your hands, mix the one unfrozen bit of liver in thoroughly with the ground meat. Then proceed with the recipe as usual. You’ll never know it was there. You can start with a very tiny amount (like a thumb-sized piece of liver for 1 pound of ground meat) and slowly increase to see how much you can add before you taste it.
Another way to add some extra nutrients to your diet is to do the same thing, but with vegetables. Puree some spinach, kale, or something else, and add it to chili, tomato sauce, meatballs, or other recipes.
Save Time with Make-Ahead Cooking
How many times in the week do you chop onions? It’s practically every time you cook – so many recipes start with cooking fat, garlic, and onions in the bottom of a pan. Wouldn’t it be convenient to have a big bowl of pre-chopped onions ready so you can just reach in and grab a handful?
You can do exactly that – just haul out the food processor at the beginning of the week and chop all your onions; then store them in a well-sealed container in the fridge (otherwise your whole fridge will smell like onions) and use them as you need them. You only have one set of cutting equipment to wash, and it saves a lot of time.
Do the same for carrots, celery, and any other vegetables you use a lot of during the week. If you’re making something chopping-intensive like vegetable soup or a salad, it can save a lot of work.
Save Time and Money with DIY Paleo Substitutions
Paleo substitutes for unhealthy old favorites aren’t always the easiest to make – it might be healthier to have a cauliflower crust for your pizza, but it’s certainly easier to just head out to the store and buy some pre-made pizza dough. And the Paleo versions are often expensive, too – compare the price of 1 pound of almond flour to 1 pound of regular flour! But with the right kitchen equipment, you can make big batches of Paleo staples to save on time and money.
Nut butters/flours (can also use a blender)
Nut butters and nut flours aren’t everyday foods, and some people feel better without them at all. But with that said, some people like a bit of Paleo baking now and again, and making your own nut butters and flours is much cheaper than buying them.
If you throw some nuts into a blender or food processor and turn it on, you’ll first get flour out of them – if you want flour, you can stop there. If you keep going, you’ll end up with nut butter instead.
For more detailed instructions:
- Homemade almond butter (Fast Paleo)
- Homemade almond flour (Amazing Paleo)
- This post on nut butters has a bunch of other suggestions for butters made with various different nuts, including some gourmet variations that will have you licking your testing spoon!
It’s a pizza crust! It’s a bagel! It’s a tortilla! No wait, it’s a cauliflower!
Riced cauliflower is the basis for all kinds of Paleo substitutions, but it can be a pain in the neck to grate up a head of cauliflower when the entire point of rice is that it’s a quick side dish. SO don’t! Rice up a couple of heads with your food processor (blenders don’t work as well for this), wring out as much water as you can, and freeze it in plastic bags (try to squeeze out as much air as you can).
Flavor your Food with Amazing Dressings and Condiments
One of the big shortcuts you might be tempted to take with Paleo is condiments – who has time to make their own sauces? But Paleo condiments don’t have to be complicated and time-consuming, especially if you have the right equipment.
Probably the best example is how easy a good food processor can make homemade mayonnaise. No need to get an arm workout whisking up a storm – save that for the gym and make easy, non-breaking homemade mayo the easy way. (For the blender-owners, you can also do this with a regular blender or an immersion blender).
Do I Need a Food Processor if I Have a Blender?
In a perfect world, everyone would have both…in their enormous, beautiful kitchen in their imaginary dream house. But if your counter space is limited, here’s a guide to picking which of the two you should get:
|A blender is better for…
|A food processor is better for…
|You could use either for…
Food processors are generally more versatile, since they have all different attachments that you can switch out to get different effects, but some people only need a blender, especially people living alone who aren’t making vegetable soup for 5 on a regular basis. Pick the one that works best for your kitchen and enjoy!