The food processor is the ultimate tool for helping busy cooks (I’m looking at you moms!) cut back on prep time, streamline recipes, and save money.

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The Food Processor Family Cookbook
Credit: Courtesy of Nicki Sizemore

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Betty. She’s my food processor. Yes, my food processor has a name, but that’s because I use it (her) nearly every single day. Whether chopping a pound of walnuts or carrots, mixing the batter for banana bread, or whipping up a quick dessert, Betty is a kitchen lifesaver. Here are a few surprising ways that your food processor can help you out in the kitchen…whether you give it a name or not.

1. Make Mess-free Batters

You can make your favorite muffins and quick bread batters in minutes right in the food processor, without dirtying any bowls. The trick is to puree the wet ingredients first, then sprinkle the dry ingredients evenly over top and pulse until mostly incorporated. Give it a quick swipe with your spatula, and then your batter is ready to bake.

2. Chop Your Vegetables

Think of your food processor as your sous chef: let it do the chopping, slicing and shredding for you, slashing your prep time. If you’re making a soup or stew with a lot of vegetables as the base, pulse them in the processor to chop. For gratins and salads, use the slicing disk to make quick (and even) work out of slicing the vegetables. Use the shredding disk to shred cheese for pasta or vegetables for salads in mere seconds, as opposed to the minutes (sometimes many) it would take using a box grater.

3. Make Your Own Nut Butters

Forget about having to buy jars—for the creamiest nut butters that won’t separate in the fridge, make them from scratch in the food processor. All you need are 2-3 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts, cashews or almonds. Place them in the processor with ½ teaspoon of salt (optional), and let the machine run until the butter is smooth and runny. If your family eats nut butter at the rate mine does, this is a huge cost saver.

4. Make Quick and Healthy Sauces

What’s the fastest way to dress up grilled meats, fish, or pasta? The food processor is queen when it comes to whipping together nutritious herb-based sauces, which add instant pizzazz to a meal. Start with a few handfuls of herbs and/or greens; add a generous smattering of roasted nuts or seeds; squeeze in some lemon juice or lime juice; and then grate in some hard cheese, if you wish. Season with salt and pepper and blend until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil until smooth. This is a great way to use up those herby odds and ends in your fridge.

5. Make Soft-Serve Style Ice Cream

Make an instant soft-serve style ice cream in the food processor using frozen fruit. Blend frozen bananas with a touch of milk for banana ice cream, or make frozen yogurt using frozen mangos or peaches, a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, and some honey to sweeten. Genius!

Nicki Sizemore is a mom of two and the author of The Food Processor Family Cookbook. Find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or her blog From Scratch Fast.