When life gets hectic, what’s the first of your healthy habits to fall by the wayside? If you confess to ordering pizza on the regular because you’re too tired and busy to cook, you’re far from alone. When you’ve had a long day due to work, school, or your family obligations, it’s hard to muster the energy to make dinner. And while there’s nothing wrong with keeping your favorite takeout places on speed-dial for midweek emergencies, you do have other options. Investing in a top-quality, full-size slow-cooker means delicious and healthy Crock-Pot meals whenever you need them. Here, I’ll explain a little more about using a slow-cooker and share some of my favorite Crock-Pot recipes. You’ll learn to save time and money making awesome homemade dinners you and your family will love.
Why Crock-Pot Meals?
If you’re unfamiliar with Crock-Pot cooking, here’s a little primer. This easy and low-stress cooking method requires just one appliance: the slow cooker. (However, an immersion blender may come in handy for blended soup recipes.) Crock-Pot is a brand name for a line of slow cookers, but it has been adopted as a general term for slow cookers. Crock-Pot’s kitchen appliances are excellent, but any slow cooker you like will do. The Instant Pot pressure cooker is another great option. Whichever brand you choose, they come in a variety of sizes, depending on how many people you’re cooking for. If you don’t own one yet, invest in your health by adding one of these little powerhouses to your kitchen.
Slow cooking is simple. Pop in your ingredients, choose the low or high setting according to the recipe, set the timer, and you’re done! If your food needs to cook for five hours, but you won’t be ready to eat for seven, it’s no problem. Your slow cooker will keep your meal warm for you until it’s mealtime. Just check the user guide to see exactly how long your model will stay on.
For a quick primer on basics like heat settings, check out these smart tips for using your Crock-Pot or other slow cooker. Each model is different, so take the time to get to know yours before preparing your first meal.
Using your slow cooker means coming home to a simmering hot meal without spending an hour in the kitchen. You can prepare your ingredients the night before, load them in before you leave, and forget about them until the evening! Then, because you won’t be ravenous after an hour of dinner prep, you can relax, eat mindfully, and enjoy.
The Best Slow-Cooker Meals
Slow cookers are incredibly versatile. If you can prepare it on the stove or in an oven, there’s a way to adapt the recipe to your Crock-Pot. Here are some tasty and easy Crock-Pot meals to get you started.
Chicken is a great source of lean protein and cooks beautifully in a slow cooker. Simmering in broth, herbs, and spices for hours makes it flavorful, juicy, and delicious. With so many easy ways to dress it up, it’s anything but boring.
- This Crock-Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup from Delish is as good as anything from your favorite Mexican place. To keep it on the lighter side, skip the heavy cream or use a substitute, like 2% milk. The soup is so full of flavor, you won’t even miss it.
- Classic Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup, also from Delish, is packed with colorful veggies and flavorful herbs. During the colder months, it’s the perfect comfort food after a long day, and the leftovers freeze well.
- Is Indian takeout one of your DoorDash staples? Try this recipe from Tasty for savory, spicy Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala. Use low-fat yogurt to keep it diet-friendly, and serve over brown basmati rice.
Don’t feel limited by the slow cooker chicken recipes you find (although there are hundreds!). You can easily add or substitute chicken in many other Crock-Pot dishes.
A mostly or entirely plant-based diet helps you to minimize your risk of cardiovascular disease and is better for the environment. These vegetarian and vegan Crock-Pot meals are so satisfying, you’ll never miss the meat.
- This spicy, Mardi Gras-inspired Vegan Jambalaya from Connoisseurus Veg has red kidney beans and vegan sausage for protein.
- Love eggs? This healthy Slow Cooker Veggie Omelette from Diethood will become one of your brunch staples. It’s almost too easy!
- Check out Pinch of Yum’s cheesy, hearty Super Easy Skinny Veggie Crock-Pot Lasagna. It just might be the quickest and simplest way to make amazing lasagna!
- This yummy and filling Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup with Split Red Lentils from A Beautiful Plate is easy to make vegan. Just skip the parmesan.
- The same is true for Easy Springtime Crock-Pot Minestrone from How Sweet Eats. Leave out the grated romano cheese, and it’s a fully vegan dish.
Another tip: It’s very easy to adapt meat-based slow cooker recipes so that they’re vegetarian or vegan. You can use beans or meat substitutes for protein—or just leave the meat out and enjoy the veggies!
Yes, you can make yummy desserts in your slow cooker too! These are just a few of the sweet treats you can make in your Crock-Pot.
- Having friends over for dinner? This Slow Cooker Chocolate Fondue from Honey and Birch makes for an easy and irresistible dessert.
- With cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, Country Living’s Slow Cooker Applesauce Spice Cake tastes just like fall—but you can enjoy it year-round!
Speaking of autumn, Dizzy Busy and Hungry’s three-ingredient Crock-Pot Pumpkin Cake makes holiday dessert a cinch. There’s no need for scented candles when you have this cooking!
Slow Cooking: A Fast Track to Healthy Eating
It’s not easy to prioritize your diet when your daily schedule is packed. If you’re overwhelmed by your various professional and social obligations, you may not have the energy to worry about how to eat healthy. Mastering the art of Crock-Pot cooking means having tasty, nutritious meals waiting for you at the end of the day. You’ll be amazed at how one little addition to your kitchen can simplify your life. Enjoy your delicious Crock-Pot creations!