When our plates are full of long days at the office but we still want to fill our bowls with hearty home-cooked meals, my husband and I reach for our slow cooker. A slow cooker is a busy home cook’s BFF; although time may be scarce, plentiful meals don’t have to be. From pot roast to chili, all we need is a little planning ahead to make a big batch of something to see us through the week.
5 Tips to Slow Cooking SuccessIt may be called slow cooking, but standing by the stove for hours on end isn’t necessary. Investing in a slow cooker will make cooking your meals a breeze — it’ll taste like you put in a lot of hard work with hardly any work at all. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Go budget-friendly. Ingredients such as beans and whole grains in our bulk section let you buy just what you need and experiment with an array of products to find new favorites.
Layer. Foods at the bottom of a slow cooker cook faster, so place dense, thick vegetables and large pieces of meat or meat with bones at the bottom.
Watch the level. Fill your slow cooker no more than two-thirds full to ensure food cooks evenly and liquid doesn’t overflow (since water doesn’t evaporate from slow cookers).
Trim the fat. Too much fat left on meat will result in an unpleasant texture, or having to skim lots of fat at the end of cooking.
Think ahead. Store portioned “kits” of chopped fresh vegetables and sliced meats in the freezer. They’ll be ready to toss in the slow cooker in the morning so you can come home to dinner, done!
Slow Cooker Sunday Supper
On any given Sunday, you likely have plans that will take you outside the kitchen…like being with the family, enjoying the last days of summer or watching the game. So stew on this — long, slow, hands-off cooking turns cuts of meat like brisket, chuck roast and pork shoulder into something truly feast-worthy. Check out these ideas:
Pulled Pork. Low and slow is the key to cooking a pork shoulder roast with onions in a flavorful barbecue sauce.
Beef Stew with Greens. Cook beef and root vegetables in the slow cooker, then stir in chopped kale or collard greens 20 minutes before serving.
Pot Roast. Trim chuck roast before slow cooking with parsnips, butternut squash, plenty of onions and garlic plus tomato paste for rich flavor.
‘Tis the Season(ing) for Slow Cooker Soups and Stews
Veggie-lovers rejoice! The slow cooker works wonders with veggies…lentils and beans too.
Split Pea. Layer dried green split peas, carrots, onion, garlic and celery to make a satisfying soup—ham hocks optional!
White Chili. Combine cauliflower, white beans, corn and chicken with mild poblano peppers for a hearty game-day favorite.
Black Bean. Use chopped bell peppers and chipotle chiles to add big flavor to dried black beans in cooking. Top with pico de gallo and avocado.
Chickpea and Lentil Stew. Canned chickpeas, dried lentils and tomato purée form a perfect base for the spices in garam masala. (Tip: Serve with 365 Everyday Value® Tandoori Naan.) Or try our newest lentil stew recipe.
For more comforting, fuss-free meals made possible by the mighty slow cooker, check out these favorites:
Succulent, aromatic beef ribs are an easy treat to come home to.
Who loves spaghetti dinners? Everyone! Slow Cooker Sausage and Spaghetti Dinner.
Feel free to stir in other root vegetables like butternut squash or parsnips to our Slow Cooker Classic Pot Roast to make this one-dish dinner even tastier.
Is the slow cooker a part of your meal planning strategy? I’d love to hear what meals you make with it.