Crock pots are still a great way to get meals ready. With every body's busy schedules, dinner needs planning and help getting onto the table.
Here is a few simple things that can help you with meal planning using a crock pot:
1. Prepare several meals in advance and place all the ingredients in FREEZER STYLE plastic bags. Keep in your fridge until the morning you plan to use.
2. Use several bags to keep vegetables and meats apart – using the meat bag to store the "marinating" or added liquids to help flavor the meal.
3. If meat needs to be browned beforehand - do so and cool before placing into bags to keep food safely.
4. Make sure you label the bag with directions so that even your kids or spouse can load the crock pot for you for dishes that don't take very long.
5. Know your crock pot and the temperature variances between low and high - this is important because not all pots are rated the same temperature wise.
6. One pot meals may need a side dish - keep it simple – use whole grains or pastas to supplement and always consider a salad or another vegetable.
7. There are plenty of great crock pot recipe sites on the Internet – seek them out and look for many healthy recipes for your family.
Here is a really simple recipe that can be the start of several meals by using the left overs as a protein for simple dishes like chicken and black bean burritos !
Slow Cooker Chicken In a Pot
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry white wine or a non-alcohol substitute - Diet Vernors or ginger ale
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 (4 1/2 to 5 lb.) whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
salt and pepper
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are softened, 5-6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the wine and chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out lumps. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Add thyme sprigs and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place breast side down in the slow cooker. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, 5-6 hours on low.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Strain liquid, discarding any solids, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Carve chicken and serve with sauce over whole grain rice or yokeless egg noodles.
Chicken and Black Bean Burritos
Whole wheat Tortillas filled with a mix of chicken, black beans, jack cheese & red peppers in a fresh Mexican style salsa.
2 cups Chopped chicken (from precooked crock pot chicken
2 large Minced garlic clove
1 15oz. Canned Tomato with Chilies
1 15oz. can Black beans (drain and rinse)
1 large Red bell pepper sliced or diced
1 pack Lo Sodium Taco Mix
2 -3 whole Green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
12 6 – 8" Whole Wheat tortilla
8 - 12 ounces Shredded 2% Monterey Jack cheese
Optional serving items:
1 large avocado
2 small tomatoes
1 8 oz. sour cream
1 small iceberg lettuce head shredded for garnish.
Pull the chicken into short, thin strips or dice.
Add oil into pan and heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the taco packet. Toss the cooked chicken and vegetables mix for 1 minute.
Add the black beans and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in green onions.
Spoon a heaping 1/4-cup bean mixture down center of each tortilla; top with cheese.
Roll and place seam side down in a lightly sprayed oven proof dish.
Top with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes at 350 deg , remove foil and lightly brown cheese.