Maximize Your Slow Cooker & (Maybe) Never Cook Again!

April 10, 2014

Raise your hand if you like coming home to cook dinner from scratch when you’re already tired and starving! (Me neither.) In the unending quest for lazy efficient meal planning (remember meal-ti-tasking?), I’m constantly trying to perfect the art of “at least it’s healthier than McDonald’s” dinner preparation.

 
 
These are my demands:
 

Easy. Fast. Yummy. At least a little bit healthy. Minimal prep & clean-up. Ready to eat when I wake up in the morning & when I sit down for dinner at night. Reasonable, right? πŸ˜‰

Did I hire a chef? Force my hubby to quit working so he can cook for me full time? Nope. I just figured out a good meal routine with my slow cooker. If things go well, I may never have to cook dinner again!

 
 

Slow-Cooker-Tips

 
 

All you need are a slow cooker, slow cooker liners, and some ridiculously easy recipes. Check it out:

The KEY is in the evening routine. At night, I dump my breakfast stuff in the slow cooker & pull out whatever meat we’ll be eating for dinner. Dump the frozen meat & a marinade in a Ziplock bag & let it marinate overnight. In the morning, eat breakfast, put in a fresh liner, and start dinner. BOOM. (You could even get fancy & have a second crock pot going with side dishes cooking!)

 

It is my ultimate goal to have a fridge full of Ziplocked bags with various meal prep ingredients so that every day, I can just pop something in the crock pot & come home to a delicious meal πŸ™‚

 

When I first shared my plan with the hubs, he was skeptical. He thought that using a crock pot for all of our meals meant that he’d only get to eat soup for dinner. Once he realized that we can make roast beef or taco salad, and that we can wake up to eggs and bacon, he was totally excited. Seriously. Waking up to breakfast & coming home to dinner feels like we’re being spoiled!! (We’ve actually named our slow cooker Jeeves because it’s like having a personal butler/chef)

 

Here are a few of my favorite meal ideas. I don’t measure anything, but they’re fairly forgiving amounts & will hopefully provide you with a little bit of inspiration!

 
Breakfast Ideas:
 

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal: old-fashioned or steel-cut oats, water, peanut butter, and either your favorite jelly or a few handfuls of berries

 

Slow Cooker Egg-a-licious Casserole: eggs or egg whites, veggies (bell peppers, frozen or fresh broccoli), lean canned ham or real bacon bits, black pepper, cheese, & salsa if desired

 
 

A few yummy recipes I’ve found online:

 

Slow Cooker French Toast Casserole

Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

 
 
Dinner Ideas:
 

I’m sure you can find a million ideas on Pinterest (I know I have a huge collection on my board), so here’s a quick rundown of my favorite stuff: chili, tacos (you can brown ground beef right in your slow cooker), French dip, pulled pork (yummy on sandwiches, tacos, and nachos), shredded chicken, and even baked potatoes! (I love using chili on top of baked sweet potatoes — yum!)

 

Here’s a really easy recipe for pulled pork (add a little lime & broccoli slaw on a tortilla and you’ve got pork tacos!)

 
 
pulled-pork-c
 
 

DISCLAIMER: I have read some discussion about whether it’s actually safe to put raw eggs & meat in the slow cooker. It might depend on your slow cooker’s brand, etc. I’ve done both, my whole family has done both, and we’ve all been okay. It’s up to you. If you’re nervous, you can always cook the meat before adding to the crock pot, or make the egg dishes as a regular casserole & bake them in the morning instead of letting them cook all night. Here’s a great food safety article with more info, and another good one from Real Simple.

 
 

Slow Cooker + Liner = No cooking & no clean-up! What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? Share your shortcuts in the comments below! Be sure to stop by my blog to find even more tips on how to organize in the kitchen and so much more.

My name is Casey, and I live in a sweet, tiny little house in Delaware with my hubby & our two adorable rescue dogs. As a longtime fan of Toni's phenomenal organizing skills, I am absolutely THRILLED to be a contributor for A Bowl Full of Lemons! I used to be a total mess, but after I let go of the idea of β€œperfect,” I found freedom. I stopped trying to fit the mold, learned how to make organization work with my natural habits, and have been obsessed with creative organizing solutions ever since! When I'm not drooling over the latest amazing project features over here, you can find me happily tinkering away on my own blog, Pretty Organized, where I share my addiction to aesthetics, small space storage ideas, DIY projects, and all things aqua! Learn more about Casey at www.prettyorganized.com.

21 comments on “Maximize Your Slow Cooker & (Maybe) Never Cook Again!

  1. Tricia says:

    I also love my slow cooker, but I only use it once or twice a month. I think in will make a goal of using it once a week now. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. shannon says:

    Don’t do raw red beans in slow cooker. Cook them for a bit on the stove before you put thrm in your slow cooker. I use to use mine alot. Then I got my dutch oven and braiser now I only use it for slow cooker “refried” beans. Will use it more this summer when we will be ot of the house all day.

  3. Ginny says:

    My ABSOLUTE favorite recipe for dinner is Aztec Chicken. It only uses chicken breasts, corn, black beans, salsa, seasoning – and cream cheese when it’s done. SUPER yummy. I use it for company all the time, and they always ask for the recipe.

    I write a “No Plan” Menu Plan every week – with 5 easy dinner recipes and no plan. My Aztec Chicken recipe is on this week’s menu – so check it out!

    http://www.moderncommonplacebook.com/plan-menu-plan-week-7/

  4. Mridu Parikh says:

    Am I the only one who never knew there was such a thing as slow cooker liners?! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the great tip!

  5. Jessica says:

    I’d be worried about cooking in plastic–do you know anything about the type of plastic in the liners?

  6. Rachel says:

    This is a great idea! I laughed when I read that you call your crock pot “Jeeves”, because we call ours “The Butler”. πŸ™‚

  7. Kelsey says:

    Is there a ‘love’ button for this post? Thank you for this! πŸ˜‰

  8. Jeanette says:

    One of our favorites somehow got called “Secret Recipe” when the kids were young and it stuck. Put in approx. 6 chicken breasts (mine are usually frozen). Add a package of Ranch or Italian powdered salad dressing mix. On top of that put 3 cans of cream of mushroom soup and cook on high for half a day or low all day. I usually start out on high and then turn it down unless I need it sooner than later. Then we just serve it over rice. You can obviously adjust the amount of soup and chicken and we’ve even only used 1/2 pkg of dressing mix before. Everyone always loves it!

    • Kelly says:

      Subtract a can of soup and add a block of cream cheese and a little chicken stock or white wine. We call it Crock Pot Chicken. πŸ™‚ We’re creative like that.

  9. Juju says:

    My all-time favorite slow-cooker recipe is Rotisserie-Style Chicken:
    -Slow Cooker Liner
    – Crumpled up foil balls to set the chicken on top of
    – Whole chicken, cleaned and rinsed – breast side up
    – Seasoned Salt or Mrs. Dash Chicken flavor sprinkled on top of the chicken
    – Cook on High for 4 hours. NO WATER OR BROTH
    It falls off the bones!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I love my slow cooker, but I would be seriously concerned about cooking in plastic like that. Even if it is BPA free, there are still plenty of other chemicals that could leach out. Not to mention the waste.

  11. Angel Johns says:

    I love my slow cooker and I need to get better about using it. Thank you for these tips and recipes!

  12. Angela Shaw says:

    I came across your website about a month ago. LOVE IT!! We are currently in the process of overhauling our budget and spending habits, in a quest for me to stay at home with our 18mth old for longer. ( We never planned for me to be off work for so long, but we’re loving it- especially our two older kids).
    Curious about the slow cooker liners…. I’ve never heard of such a thing! Can you recommend a brand or where to get them ( that said we are in Tasmania, Australia)
    Thanks so much πŸ™‚

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