There is an entire movement called Freezer Cooking using your CrockPot or Slow Cooker online. This basically involves buying one or more recipe's worth of ingredients (at once, when they are on sale if you are on a budge, or just because) and freezing them per-proportioned with the meat marinades, etc. all ready to drop from the frozen state into your slow-cooker later on when you want the meal. Many websites even include printable labels you can slap on the outside of the frozen meal. It takes VERY little time to prep/clean up, goes to the freezer and provides that meal for a month or more, once a week, depending on how many portions you make. Easy, time efficient, diet friendly. You can plan portion sizes for larger families (multiple crock pots going) or individuals including planned left-overs for lunch. Give it a search in your favorite search engine or pintrest.
My two cents: 1. Prep everything the night before and put the crock pot "liner" in the fridge. That way, in the morning all you have to do it take it out and turn it on, no prep work or clean-up to do while getting ready for work.
2. If you're going to leave it on all day (sounds like it will be on 10-12 hours), add an extra half cup of liquid to every recipe for the time that you're going over. For example, if the recipe says "8 hours on high" and you're going to be leaving it on for 10, add an extra cup of liquid. After doing this a few times, you'll get a better idea of exactly how much liquid your particular crockpot loses. I had one where I only needed an extra 1/4 c of liquid for every extra hour, as it had a tighter-fitting lid.
3. Don't do recipes that don't submerge the cooking food in liquid if the crockpot is going to be on all day. It's way too easy to burn stuff if you aren't there to monitor.
4. Think beyond the crockpot - use it to prep part of a meal, then toss the rest together when you get home. For example, last night I made pulled chicken tacos. I put grilled chicken breasts I had grilled the night before (as part of that dinner) into the crockpot in the AM with canned tomatoes, spices, and a chiptole in adobo, plus enough chicken broth to cover. That went all day on low. When I got home, I turned on the oven to 350F, took all the chicken out, shredded it, blended the liquid in the crockpot with a stick blender, added a can of tomato paste to thicken the liquid, then put the chicken back it and turned it up to high. While oven finishes preheating, DH and I threw together a quick guacamole (I buy my avocados green and ripen them in paper bags, so the ones I bought on Saturday are usually ready by Wednesday) of avocados, onion, bottled lime juice, salt, and tomatoes. I put taco shells on the cookie sheet and slid them into the oven, then heated up a can of refried beans in the microwave and shredded cheese for the kids. Dinner in 20-30 minutes, depending on how fast you can move! That gave the kids time to put their stuff away, have a little TV time, and set the table.
I've done the same thing with various sauces for spaghetti, which takes about 20 minutes from filling the pot of water to cooked spaghetti, then I add a salad kit and sometimes toasted bread (DH makes bread pretty regularly).
We've also done chicken cacciatore, chili, lots of different soups (pea soup, kale soup where I let the liquid simmer all day, then just add the kale right before serving so it doesn't get overcooked), tomato soup (with grilled cheese sandwiches), etc. I've never done pasta IN the crockpot, as I usually have to let it run all day, and it would get overcooked, but I do use recipes that call for pasta, but just cook it separately and mix in at the end.
Take life one day at a time - enjoy today before you worry about tomorrow.
If you don't like to prep in the morning, there are many recipes that you can prep in the crock pot the night before, then just put the crock in the refrigerator for the night. In the morning just pop the crock into the base and turn it on.
I've done this for dishes that are meat and sauce with good results. Also anything that needs whole potatoes. Cut potatoes may not do as well.
You have probably stopped reading all these great ideas by now, but I used to just wash and toss a whole chicken in the crock pot. NO WATER added. It is falling off the bone for dinner. The skin has to be removed because it isn't crisp of course. Then pop a couple of potatoes in the microwave and done. Unless you want to add a salad.
There are lots of recipes online that you can prep and freeze. In the morning you take the bag out of the freezer and put it in the crockpot. Turn it on and go to work. Here is one site. https://newleafwellness.biz/2015/05/27/31-healthy-crockpot-freezer-meals/https://www.superhealthykids.com/10-quick-healthy-freezer-slow-cooker-meals-no-prep-cooking-needed/
Just google it.
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This chicken chili sounds good in the crockpot. Thanks for sharing. I used ground chicken one time and was not crazy about that recipe. So this one with boneless chicken breast will be easy and good for me. Thanks. Irish Ei
One of my sisters was a very busy executive and worked very long hours. To save her time, she chose one day a week to shop and prep. She would chop all her veggies up so when she staggered in from work in the evening, at whatever time it would be, she could throw on a quick stir fry, or whatever she was preparing that evening.
For myself, I have problems and can't stand for longer than 5 or 10 minutes at a time so I buy freeze dried foods that are already chopped and ready for me to put together. It doesn't take long to throw various ingredients into a pot, and it only take 15 or 20 minutes before a piping hot meal is ready. To make it even quicker, I put all the ingredients for one meal into a canning jar (ball or mason type) and put an oxygen absorber in it and store in my pantry. I do several jars at a time and rotate out the meals, so I usually have a variety to choose from. When I go to make the meal, I just dump into a pot with water, and beef stroganoff or beef bourginon even lasagna soup or whatever I want, is ready in no time. Or I can make casseroles or stir fries or whatever I choose and just soak in water for a few minutes first.
I love my crockpot. Pinterest has tons of great recipes. Today I have stuffed peppers going in it while I'm at work. 5-6 large peppers depending on your crockpot size. 1lb ground beef, turkey or chicken. 1 cup of Salsa 1/2c uncooked brown rice garlic, salt & pepper. Mix all ingredients together. Do not precook meat or rice. Stuff peppers & place them in crock pot. Top with more salsa or spaghetti sauce. Pour 1/2c of water into the bottom of crockpot to prevent burning. Cook on low for 8hrs.
Edited by: KATHI512 at: 1/2/2018 (15:02)
You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way! Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Pounds lost: 65.0
Fitness Minutes: (122,262)
12/28/17 4:53 P
One thing I have learned is to use the terms Slow Cooker and also Crockpot for recipe searches. I use the CP a lot. We cook rice from a Chef Meg recipe. Can bake potatoes. I also cook dry beans in the CP. Spark has a pretty good assortment of recipes.
Pounds lost: 27.0
Fitness Minutes: (2,581)
12/26/17 8:53 P
Good ideas for finding recipes. Recipes are not my main concern. Am wondering about quick prep in the morning since I work early sites and I don't have a lot of time to get things ready in the morning. Yes, I love my crockpots ( have more than one) and they are great for bringing to potlucks too besides being great to have a meal ready when a person comes home from work after a long day.
Fitness Minutes: (4,413)
124 12/26/17 10:24 A
I just got a new crockpot for christmas earlier this month (early gift etc) anyways I am OBSESSED WITH IT! I found a lot of my recipes through pinterest and a great majority of them were healthy too! I've made crockpot potato soup, broccoli soup, orange chicken, etc. The options are endless! I greatly recommend checking out pinterest for recipes!!!
I love to make chicken enchiladas stuffed with veggies. They are easy to make and easy to freeze before they are cooked. I pull some out of the freezer the night before and put them in the oven to heat while I toss a salad.
I found chicken can be cooked in the crock pot even if frozen. Helps me when I forget to take it out of the freezer. Very easy to add some marinara, a bag of frozen zucchini and chopped onion for a quick main dish.
I love a beef roast. The cheapest cut will do. I chop potatoes, onions, add baby carrots and mushrooms and top it with the beef. Add a can of no salt beef broth and let the crock pot do it's job. Very easy and very tasty.
I tend to add a lot of veggies to our dishes. I like to add brussels sprouts or shelled edamame to the dishes. And sometimes I cheat and add a bag of frozen if I don't have time to prep fresh veggies.
"I have not been placed on this earth to fit your mold or conform to what makes you feel more comfortable with my existence." Michelle Steinke
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I second (third?) the idea of prepping and then freezing things for the crockpot. I've been using frozen meat directly in the crockpot and it's been great (trying to eat through the freezer). I haven't tried the idea of prepping a ton of food at once, but plan to do that once the freezer is emptied and we're starting over.
One other thing to consider is freezing leftovers in single servings that can be defrosted. There are only two of us, but if I know we like a crockpot recipe, I'll make way more than we can eat, and freeze it in lots of single portions. Then we have lunches or a crazy night's dinner ready to defrost in the microwave (and can each have something different). We've been having lots of things that result in shredded meat that can over rice or on rolls, so I freeze individual portions of rice as well. I think that has been best for us - it's faster to defrost than pick something up. However, if you're a family of 6, this isn't going to help with family meals.
Today I'm cooking my spaghetti sauce in the crook pot. Some of my other favorites are beef roast, pork roast, soups, and chicken. I use mine a lot, and I'm retired. I feel as though I'm much better off if I start a meal in the crock pot in the morning verses; feeling pressured as to what to cook for dinner in a short amount of time.
Fitness Minutes: (4,737)
35 12/11/17 11:59 A
I use crockpots alot and also don't want to prep the food in the morning. I am not a fan of many of the crock pot recipes that you prep and freeze ahead of time, for some reason they just have a weird texture. Here is some of what I do for my family (two adults/two teens):
4 or 5 chicken breasts, thrown in crockpot. Chop one onion and toss on top with a can of green chilis (chopped). I add taco seasoning or chili/cumin/paprika and cook on low. Shred and have for tacos or over salad. I have also used bone in chicken breasts, but its a bit more work at the end of the day when you are tired.
Pork roast - I peel and quarter an onion or two and throw in the bottom. I have browned these and sometimes I don't. Its not that big of a difference. I just cover the top with whatever herbs I have (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary etc) cover and let it go. At the end of the day I puree the onions with the drippings for a "gravy"
Beef roast - Usually similar but I will often add new potatos and a bag of baby carrots to it.
Im a huge fan of simple!
Kat from Portland Oregon New (sorta) to SP so add me as a friend! Paleo/AIP Gym/Hike/Backpack/Walk
One thing I've learned is that things run smoother if I never chop one onion. When I get out a knife or food processor, I chop at least two or three times as much as I need for the dish I'm cooking, so it will already be done the next time I cook. Knowing that the veggies are already chopped makes it much more likely that I'll cook instead of resorting to cereal for dinner.
I also recently got an electric multi-cooker as a gift. If money isn't too tight, you might look into something similar (Instant Pot is the most recognized brand name, but there are several others.) It's a combination electric pressure cooker, skillet, and slow cooker; most people use it for the same type of recipes you'd do in a slow cooker, but it does it in under an hour instead of six to eight. If you do all the chopping the night before, you can easily make a stew or casserole when you get home.
I’ve found for myself I like to have meat cooked up for 2-4 days. I am single and I live alone, so I’m sure if you were to adopt this method, at least for a couple days a week, you may rotate protein faster with 2 eating if you're not eating alone. But I have found that baking a pork loin, or grilling some chicken breasts, or grilling some hamburgers gives me ready made meat for dinner. In my experience as long as I'm not reheating meat beyond three days, it usually tastes really good and isn't dry. Having frozen salmon individually packaged, pre-seasoned in the freezer, Is cooked in 20 minutes, Often on the same baking sheet that I have my vegetables. I often reheat the pre cooked meat on the baking sheet with in 3 minutes before I pull the veggies out.
Then all I have to do is roast vegetables for the sides fresh every night, which I can easily do on a baking sheet in the oven in about 15 minutes once the oven is warm.
Time is my issue too, although for different reasons than you. I don't leave for work until 6:30 in the morning. But when I get home (often not until 5 PM) I need to get something nutritious on the table quickly to meet my husband's needs (he's 86 and has Alzheimer's disease and sundowns early in the evening).
To make this work for everyone I have three strategies: 1) Cook on my days off (for me that is week-ends) and I make food we can eat all week on the days that I don't have to rush -- soups, stews, casseroles! 2) Have a few "go to" items I can pick up in a pinch -- for me that is the freshly roasted grocery-store chickens or a nearby deli with fantastic Greek salads to go. 3) Use the freezer wisely! In my freezer are many things that go from frozen solid to ready-to-eat in 30 minutes or less. I keep frozen fish, frozen meatballs, frozen vegetables, tons of things that will do for supper when I am in a hurry!
These strategies have saved me time and time again!
The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.
-- Leo Buscaglia
Pounds lost: 34.2
Fitness Minutes: (2,581)
12/9/17 9:18 P
Thanks for the responses, the recipe sites and the meal prep suggestions. The issue is not just recipes.And I am sorry if I have given the impression that I can't get recipes. Like most cooks, I always enjoy finding new recipes. The issue is one of time and prep. Time is especially tight...I get up at 4 a.m. and have a quick shower, dress and have breakfast then walk the dog. Then I get to my first worksite at 6 a.m. I am exhausted by the time I get home and it gets too easy to pick something up on the way home which isn't good for healthy eating and calorie counting! Again, I thank you for the recipe sites and prep suggestions. I look forward to any more .....
Plenty of recipes including some here. while some suggest you brown the meat and veggies, it isn't necessary (they do taste better) and it'll be fine. When I was still working I'd do the chopping the night before so all I had to do was assemble in the morning.
Some of these are very good and easy. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com
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If you want to do meats, etc...you can always brown them the night before, then refrigerate overnight..... Cut up the veggies, carrots, celery, onion etc ahead of time, refrigerate and toss it all together in the morning.
There are also some recipes, like crock pot Root Beer Pulled Pork, that you can cook on high in the evening, and then shred and reheat with BBQ sauce the next evening for a quick dinner. It freezes very well also!!
Check out your local library for some Crock Pot recipe books you can bring home for a week or two to copy some menus you like!! patti
Patti "The only thing we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Gandalf: Lord of the Rings
Seriously, if you have a crock pot and can't find something, you aren't trying hard enough. When my kids were middle school to high school age, I worked dinner/swing shift, if I hadn't been able to plan for their meals, they wouldn't have eaten. Poke around, you'll find stuff.
Nobody can have it all, you can only have what you love most.
Google will give you literally hundreds of recipes. Choose the ones that have ingredients you like. Crockpots are wonderful for anyone. I use mine a lot.
Edited by: LUANN_IN_PA at: 12/9/2017 (13:26)
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Fitness Minutes: (2,581)
12/9/17 7:32 A