You cook with a crockpot right? A slow cooker? I do. I have for years and years. My Mother used to use a crock pot or slow cooker back in the 70′s ! So I am very accustomed to having Slow Cooker (SC) meals. My husband wasn’t when we got married but he warmed up to the idea of a good, hot meal ready when we got home from school and work.
With 5 children at home and as many as 4 in home school at one time I used the SC like crazy. I have worn out more SCs than most people have owned.
Right now I have a 3 quart, 4 quart and 5 quart slow cooker. I also own a 1 quart cooker that I gave to my son who lives on his own and needed a small one to prepare his dinner in while he is at work.
So this Fall I am going back to school full time. I don’t want the grocery budget to get crazy and I don’t want our nutrition to take a nose dive. To prevent all that, I am working right now on Meals, Menus and Methods for preparing dinner each day and not taking hours and hours to do it. I have lots of recipes saved on my computer and a lot of them marked in my cookbook.
Here is the plan:
Friday – make menus, pull out all my meal recipes and make my grocery list.
Saturday – shop and bring it home to put away. Once its home, I will go ahead and put together all my SC meals for the entire week. I will use zip-top plastic bags to put the meat, veggies and all the seasonings in, then refrigerate all the bags of food.
Some of the recipes need to cook 10 hours on LOW. That’s no problem, I’ll turn it on before I leave home in the morning. There are some recipes that only need to cook 6-8 hours. There are even a few that need just 4 hours of cooking on LOW. For those I will use an ordinary lamp timer plugged into the wall and the SC plugged into the timer. My SCs are not the modern ones that have timers or are programmable. The lamp timer will take up the slack there!
I don’t worry about the food sitting in the SC for a while before it starts to cook because once it begins cooking it reaches a temperature that will destroy bacteria.
I will share a post periodically with a recipes I am using and the method I use to prepare it ahead of time. For the time being, here is a recipe that I have tried and we really like it:
Kale, Sausage and Potato Soup
12 oz. smoked sausage, cut into bite sized pieces and cooked, then cooled.
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, chopped into uniform pieces
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
5 cups chicken broth
1 large bay leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
About 6 oz kale, washed and torn into small pieces, tough stem cut away.
Cook the meat, cool. Add all ingredients except the broth to a zip top bag. Label then refrigerate.
On the morning you want to have the soup for supper, open the bag, pour all the ingredients into a 5 or 6 qt. SC. Add the chicken broth.
Turn the SC on LOW. Plug the SC into the lamp timer and set the lamp timer to come on 6 hours before supper time.
I will be leaving the house at about 6:30 a.m. so I will set the lamp timer to come on at noon. That way, the soup will cook for 6 hours on LOW.
Once we get home, the soup should be ready. For this particular recipe you can make it creamy by adding a cup of full fat milk. I’ll either make some cornbread to go with it or we’ll have crackers and a small salad.
More Slow Cooker Recipes as I test them out: