Yesterday I went back to school (boo) and am now consumed with girls’ basketball until the first week in March. Which means lots of meal planning and slow cooker meals for dinner.
While I’m always on the hunt for a new meal, I do have some go-to meals that we eat fairly often. I had a reader ask for some slow cooker ideas a while back and I am all about sharing ways I make my life easier–and using the slow cooker is one of those ways.
(Side note: I refuse to use a slow cooker meal that has me cooking or making things to then put in the crock pot. I expect the crock pot to do all the work and I just throw in the ingredients. So there are lots recipes I don’t use–I’m sharing true time-saving crock pot meals where you just throw in stuff and it magically makes a meal for your family because that is what I want/need.)
Chicken and Dumplings
I’ve been using this meal for a while, I even made it recently for a friend who was having some medical issues. I picked up her crock pot, made the meal, and then dropped it off at her house on my way to work one morning. This is delicious comfort food that will fill you up. It’s rumored to taste just like the chicken and dumplings at Cracker Barrel, but I’ve never had them before. Serve with a salad or steamed veggie and then take a nap, you’re going to need it.
Creamy Italian Chicken
I’ve made this in the crock pot and on the stove top, but followed the same recipe and it’s delicious. It reminds me of fettuccine alfredo. You’ll need to boil pasta before you serve it, but that’s the only prep you’ll need before dinner. It’s delicious and you could probably substitute the chicken for seafood if you’d like. I serve this with garlic bread and broccoli.
BBQ Pulled Pork
There isn’t really a recipe, I just throw in a couple of pounds of boneless ribs (or with the bone, whatever you have), add salt, pepper, a little minced garlic, and cover it with lots of barbecue sauce and let it cook on low all day (at least 8 hours). It becomes fall-off-the-bone tender and I make cornbread and green beans to serve with it (and it makes great sandwiches later).
Of course, I said I refuse to make slow cooker meals that have me make food ahead of time and then I share this one with you. But sometimes I just buy the already-cooked ground beef if I know time is working against me. Or I’ll brown a large amount of beef and store it in separate containers to have on hand for meal. Truly, we don’t eat a lot of ground beef though. I don’t know why, we just don’t. But this recipe needs some ground beef and it’s worth the time and effort because this meal gets gobbled up by everyone and there’s never leftovers.
This stuff is way too good. I did this one over Christmas break again and accidentally bought the sliced pepperoncini peppers instead of the whole peppers, so it made it a lot spicier than intended, but it was still delicious. You can eat this on hoagies like the recipe suggests (we added provolone cheese as a topper) or I served the leftovers over rice and added some steamed veggies. Both ways are a hit. And this recipe couldn’t be any easier if it tried.
This says cook on high for 2-3 hours, but I do it on low all day and then I’m less tempted to order pizza on a Friday night when I’m too tired to cook. Nachos for dinner? Yes. This uses some of the already-cooked ground beef, but if you just keep some ready in the freezer, it should be quick and easy. This would be great for a party, too.
Seasoned Pork Loin
I know I did not come up with this recipe, but I can’t figure out where it came from. I just put a 2-3 pound pork loin in the slow cooker, put a pretty thick layer of grill seasoning, lemon & pepper seasoning, or poultry seasoning over the top, chop and add 3 onions, and then pour in 1/2 cup of water. Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes and cook on low 8-10 hours. Your house will smell amazing, the pork will be super tender, and it’s delicious.
Ham & Bean Soup
This is as simple as it gets and a hit every time. Even with a three year old that refuses to eat everything I make.
We enjoy corned beef in the Graham household and probably have it about once a month. Just put the corned beef in the slow cooker, cover with water, add the seasoning packet that comes in the meat, and let it cook on low for 10-12 hours. The longer, the better. Serve with a baked potato, Brussels sprouts, or sauteed cabbage. And, of course, horseradish. Lots and lots of horseradish.
I made this for a family Christmas gathering recently and it was a big hit. I added an additional can of broth and another half of onion to make it go a little farther and it was still creamy and yummy. And was great leftovers for a couple days and got better the longer it sat. And this one is effortless.
Chicken Enchilada Soup
I used chicken breast instead of chicken thighs and it was still good. Don’t be scared by how long the ingredient list is, it’s still pretty simple and most of the stuff you probably have on hand. I served this with sour cream and tortilla chips. And we like it spicy, but you can tone it down to whatever works at your house.
I love 365 Days of Slow Cooking, Passionate Penny Pincher, and Pinterest for slow cooker ideas. I’ve got lots of great recipes waiting on my recipe board–crock pot applesauce or fried rice? I’ll be trying those two soon! Have you seen or tried the baked potatoes in a slow cooker? I’m not sure about that one.
What are some of your favorites? Anything I should try? Share please!
Don’t forget to take my 2013 reader survey–you can win a Thirty One bag for telling me what you think!