Do you know you’ll have a day this week when you’ll be running around all day?
Do the kids have a full schedule that seems to have a life of its own. It seems to have you driving from one practice to church, to the 4-H meeting and back again.
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Or maybe your sweet, loving, hunk of a husband wants to go fishing tonight after work but you dread going because that leaves you having to cook dinner at 9 pm. I feel ya girl. That’s the perfect day to plan a slow cooker meal.
I’ma be honest.
This chick doesn’t really like being in the kitchen. I can do it and not despise my life (mostly) when I am in the kitchen. But I would much rather be outside with my animals, mowing, or planting something.
Slow cooker meals are the best thing to get you out of the kitchen the fastest.
This post is all about helping you start slow cooker meal planning to save you time and effort on those extra busy days.
Slow Cooker Recipe Prep
If your mornings are too crazy or you just can’t see yourself assembling a slow cooker meal at 7 am (it really isn’t that bad), do it the night before. You can either toss everything into a large plastic storage bag or mix it right in your slow cooker crock insert and store it in the fridge overnight. In the morning just put it in the slow cooker and turn it on.
Just Start Trying Them
Of course, this type of meal prep takes a little bit of planning. Start by trying a variety of different slow cooker meals and find out what your family likes and doesn’t like. Pay particular attention to those recipes that don’t call for a lot of prep work before everything is ready to go into the slow cooker.
Once you have your list of meals, write out the recipes and keep them somewhere handy. Personally, I like a recipe book like this. I don’t like keeping them digitally.
Best Slow Cooker Meals For Busy Days
Pick a one-pot dish like beef stew, chili, or a chicken and rice casserole with broccoli, and get it going in the morning. Just put the ingredients into your slow cooker, turn it on low and go about your busy day. If you have a lot of farm chores to do or animals to work with you may want to think about getting a crock pot like these with a timer.
When you get home, be ready to walk into a home that smells like home-cooked dinner. Grab some crackers, make some toast or garlic bread, and dinner is ready to be served. It doesn’t get much easier than that and all it takes is a little bit of prep work in the mornings.
Planning Slow Cooker Meals With What You Have
So sometimes we don’t have everything a recipe calls for. If you are like my family we don’t go shopping that often so the cabinet gets pretty low on supplies towards the end of the month.
When you know you need to plan one or two slow cooker meals for the week there is really one way to go about it.
- Go through that stack of recipes and look for the ones that you know you have most or all of the ingredients for.
- Take a look at your schedule and the cooking time to see if there are meals that fit one day better than the other.
- Mark those meals on your calendar so you know what to make when that morning comes around.
Planning Way Ahead Of Time
So if you are like my family we don’t shop that often. Every 4-5 weeks is about how often we go shopping.
Sssooo, make sure you shop for everything you need in advance if this is you.
Don’t forget to check on seasonings, spices, and other shelf-stable items that you don’t’ usually buy. This can make or break some meals if the flavor isn’t all that great without those herbs.
If you’re already planning your dinners and making out your shopping list based on what you’re planning to cook for the week, this will be an easy process.
Just plan a slow cooker meals a few days per week. If you’re not meal planning yet, give it a try and at least plan the meals for the days when you know life will be busy.
Prep what you can as soon as you get back from the store. For example, if you know you’ll make beef stew in the slow cooker tomorrow and it calls for browning the meat before you add it, go ahead and do that now.
Then store the browned beef in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble your stew in the morning. The same goes for chopping veggies. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did in the morning.
How To Plan Slow Cooker Meals If You Don’t “Love Food”
This is a hard one for some people to grasp but I TOTALLY get it. Both my husband and I don’t think about food often and if we aren’t hungry enough we simply can’t figure out what to eat.
This makes getting dinner ready and cooked at a decent hour pretty tough. So what do you do?
Creating a weekly meal plan feels a little restricting. What happens if you get to the day you are supposed to make that meal and you realize you want to have a different slow cooker recipe.
BUT if you back it out a little and chose a protein that you are going to work with each day of the week then this could give you some guidance as to where to start.
Here is want this could look like:
- Sunday: Beef (Meals could be: Beef sandwiches, roast beef, Shepherds pie)
- Monday: Chicken
- Tuesday: Fish
- Wednesday: Ground Beef (tacos, chili, burrito bowls, cabbage rolls)
- Thursday: Chicken Breasts (meals you could choose from would be Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Curry, Shredded Barbeque chicken)
- Friday: Cubed Deer
- Saturday: Free day
See what I mean? You don’t have to have strict slow cooker meal plans. Even just having a guide will be much faster than starting from nothing.
Must-have item in your farmhouse kitchen.
If you are a paper person then this is a must. If you have a device in the kitchen you run the risk of ruining it while you are cooking. Never mind trying to keep it from going to sleep while you are making a recipe.
Slow cooking and planning slow cooker meals is all about making it easy for you to get delicious home-cooked meals on the table even on the busiest of days. Give it a try. I think you’ll find it a huge help not to have to worry about throwing something together when you finally walk in from the yard at 7 pm.
And no matter what you make, it will be healthier and better for your family than the fast food you might be tempted to pick up on crazy days like this.