Meal prepping makes your whole week easier, but it’s not always easy to fit meal prep into an already busy week! The slow cooker makes it easier, and here’s why I love it!
Here’s a secret to getting ahead on your week: Effective meal prepping is where it’s at.
Meal prepping, when done right, can save you tons of time in the kitchen- but I’ll be the first to admit, it’s sometimes really tough to get it done!
My kids are 2 and 4, and lately my 2-year-old is in that lovely whining stage where he needs to be held, usually in the evenings.
My husband usually works nights or gets home from work late, so it’s often just me doing that crazy dinner hour juggle,. The hardest part of it is I need both hands to make dinner- but I rarely have a hand free to do so!
<h2>On top of all that craziness, it’s usually a struggle to get meal prep effectively; that is, get all my meal prep done in a small window of time.
I buy pre-prepped ingredients as often as possible, and I try to take shortcuts that make sense both for my budget and our health (not a lot of processed soups or anything around here, but I’m a big fan of pre-mixed frozen veggies!)
But there’s one thing that never lets me down in the kitchen during meal prep, and that’s my trusty slow cooker.
I may sing the praises of my Instant Pot to the heavens, and for what it’s worth, I use my IP in meal prepping on the regular. That baby saves me a ton of time in, say, presoaking beans and simmering rice.
But if I didn’t have an Instant Pot, or if it’s in use with other ingredients, the crockpot can be a lifesaver for meal preppers- and just about any busy parents, meal prepping or not- as well.
Here are 17 reasons why the slow cooker is my trusty sidekick in the effective meal prep battle:
- Double the batch. You can easily double up the recipes you’re making in the crockpot, and then save half in the freezer.
- Stuff to freeze. Or, instead of doubling up, put the crockpot recipe straight into the freezer and pull it back out when you need it most (ie on the nights when everything is collapsing down around you)
- Makes food while you sleep. Or work, or pick up the kids from school, or sit on your couch watching Netflix.
- No searing actually required. Trust me on this one: I know many recipes recommend searing your proteins before adding them to the crockpot, but most recipes taste just as good without that step.
- Everything’s better when slow cooked. Ok, that’s not totally true, but it’s close!
- These crockpot lentils. Meal prep side dish dreams are made of these easy, flavorful lentils.
- Keeps the oven free. So you can cook other things at the same time!
- Keep kids and pets safe. No gas flames (and no references to This Is Us, please guys)
- Takes up less energy than the oven. Hello, cheaper energy bills.
- Taste your veggies in a different light. Roasting is awesome and raw is delicious, but slow cooking changes the sugars and flavors of vegetables in a new and different way.
- One side, 2 dinners. This works especially well with vegetarian meals; most veggie-centric crockpot recipes (like this one and this one and this one) work great as a big meal or two days worth of sides.
- Different diets and allergies and eaters in the family means you can use the crockpot for one family member and make something separate for another.
- Keeps the kitchen cool when it’s hot outside. So you can enjoy this summertime tomato and corn chowder without sweating to death.
- These cheesy grits because hello delicious.
- No soaking dried beans before they cook (which means enjoying these rosemary crockpot beans)
- Stretch stovetop or oven-baked meals with a side or a starch cooked in the crockpot. Like with these garlicky mashed potatoes.
- Kids can help with crockpot dishes easier than other recipes. As in, you do the cutting, they do the seasonings and the dumping.
That’s it! Have you used your slow cooker for meal prep? It’s the best kind of set-it-and-forget it helper in the kitchen!