May I just say how much I love my crock pot? As a mom who wears several hats at once (I.e. Homeschooling instructor hat, church and outreach volunteer hat, Work-from-home hat, Chauffeur for two teens who have paid employment jobs and three who participate in sports hat, Grammy to six-hat, and all the extra (wonderful) hats that come along with being a wife of nearly 30 years and a mother hat) I often find myself in need of ideas for quick and easy meal preparation, so I can provide my family with tasty, healthy (for the most part) food while still having time to do what I need to do in a given day.
I typically create a menu for the coming week ahead. I try my best to create this menu from ingredients I have on hand, then make a shopping list for the week for any items I happen to need to complete the menu. Those who know me well know that I am not big on lists and schedules, etc. In fact, too much of that causes me to cringe and feel extremely anxious rather than calm and peaceful, like most people say such tools should make us feel. However, I find that my little weekly menu list is one type of list that benefits, rather than stresses me.
When I think a particular coming week is going to be especially busy (or I simply don’t feel like putting a lot of effort into food prep that week) I include crock pot meals on my list. I arise early each morning, long before my children are awake (special perk for individual prayer time, exercise, working from home time and COFFEE) so I can easily add all necessary ingredients to my crock pot, then simply turn it on and forget about it until dinner time. Years ago, my father gifted me with a Ninja cooker. This amazing gadget can function as a crock pot, a stovetop or an oven! This makes it easy for me to brown meat (using stovetop option) then switch to crockpot setting for the rest of the day.
Do you make use of a crock pot to simplify and add convenience and time-saving optimization to your busy days? If so, we’d love to hear about your favorite recipes in the comments!
For now, I’ll leave you with the following list, including some of my family’s faves:
Cheesy-beef Taco dip: While this choice is definitely not the healthiest item on the list, my family, and every guest who has ever dined with us when we serve this meal, absolutely loves it. Place desired amount of browned/drained ground beef into a crock pot (We typically serve 8-10 with 4 pounds of beef.) Stir in either two jars of Cheez whiz-type sauce or (like I do) use cubed Velveeta-style cheese. When we want some extra punch, we use fiesta-style-Velveeta-style. Also add a jar or two of your favorite salsa. Turn well, turn pot on, and cook for several hours. (I cook everything in my crock pot on high.) Use tortilla chips for dipping. This goes great with salad, veggies and dip, or mixed fruit!
Jumbalaya: For this little tasty meal, I cut up Kielbasa or some other large linked sausage like sweet or hot Italian. I add it to the crock post with peeled, already cooked shrimp, and tomato sauce with strips of green peppers and onions. You can use your own garden produce or purchase an already jarred mixture. This meal does involve one more type of cooking. You have to make some rice to go with it. You can do that a day ahead or just before serving. Cook the crock pot stuff several hours, then serve over rice. THIS IS DELICIOUS!
Chili: Doctor this up any way you like, but this is our basic recipe. We place 4 pounds of browned/drained beef (Forgot to mention earlier that we use locally purchased, grass-fed beef, which I highly recommend for good health!) then add diced carrots, green peppers, onions, a few cloves of minced garlic, large can of drained kidney beans, salt, pepper, chili powder and several cans of tomato sauce. About an hour before serving, we still in some thawed frozen corn, preferably from our garden! When we want to stretch this meal for more guests, we serve it over cooked elbow macaroni noodles. If you feel like making biscuits, that’s always an added treat!
Chop suey: This is my mother’s recipe and it has been my favorite meal since I was a child. Brown some stew beef and some boneless, cubed pork (like from boneless ribs). Add about half to one cup of brown sugar, a few cans of whole tomatoes (mashed up) diced celery and onion, and about ¾ cup of ketchup. You’ll just about melt after this aroma starts wafting through your home! We serve it over rice (Again, that’s an added cooking step, but well worth it!) We usually eat this tasty dish with crackers or biscuits.
My family has been enjoying these crock pot meals for decades. There’s something about having a warm meal, simmering in a crock pot while we go about our tasks and duties for the day, that I really love. When someone stops by to visit, they are greeted and welcomed with delicious scents, and often wind up staying to dine with us!
If you’re a busy mom or dad who is looking for ways to save time, yet fill your family’s tummies with delicious, for-the-most-part healthy meals, I encourage you to start using a crock pot.
If you already do, I hope you’ll share some of your favorite recipes in the comment box!
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.