Eating healthy can be sometimes be tough, especially when you’re a busy mom. Between getting your kids ready for school, heading off to work, helping the kids with homework when you’re back from work, and top it off with housework like laundry and dishes… things can get, well, a little crazy to say the least!
Finding the time to sit down and enjoy a nice family dinner is one thing, but finding the time to prepare a healthy dinner that everyone will enjoy is another! As a mother of 2 beautiful little girls I totally get it, which is why I want to share my not-so-secret tip for preparing healthy meals for my family: the slow cooker.
The slow cooker has been life-saver in my house for 2 huge reasons:
1) It allows me to prepare meals when I have a little free-time instead of scrambling to cook a meal once dinner time rolls around.
2) Slow cooking is easy—simply dump all the ingredients in and forget about it for a few hours.
Make slow cooking even easier with these time-saving tips:
Slow cooking is one of the easiest and quickest ways you can prepare a meal (and super affordable too), but you’ll save even more time if you know how…
Prepare multiple portions ahead of time and freeze them.
When you’re prepping a recipe for the slow cooker, try to double the recipe and before cooking place half in a freezer-safe container or storage bag. Next time you’ve got a busy day simply pop the container out of the freezer, let it defrost, and it can go straight into the slow cooker—no food prep will be needed on your part! *Always make sure the food is completely defrosted, placing frozen food in the slow cooker can be dangerous to your health.*
Make extras when slow cooking soups and stews.
Soups and stews freeze great and taste just as delicious when they’re reheated. Make extras if your slow cooker is big enough, or if you have a small family, freeze the leftovers! Another great time-saving tip is to plan on having the same meal the next day, most soups and stews actually taste better the second day.
Don’t be afraid of using frozen veggies.
Most frozen vegetables have just as many nutrients (possibly more) as fresh vegetables. Frozen veggies are already peeled, chopped, and ready-to-cook, which can be a big time-saver.
Invest in a programmable slow cooker.
Seriously, the best purchase for the busy mom just might be a programmable slow cooker. For under $40 (which is definitely not a huge investment) you can purchase a slow cooker that will automatically switch to the keep warm setting once the time is up. This means that you don’t have to be home to turn the slow cooker off when it’s finished, that way you’ll never have to worry about overcooking, how convenient, right?!
Convert cook times from ‘low’ to ‘high’ if you’re short on time.
When you’re cooking meat in your slow cooker it almost always comes out a little more tender and juicy when your slow cooker is set to low, but most recipes will cook perfect on high as well—you just have to get the timing right.
Use this high/low slow cooker conversion chart to either cook a meal more quickly or slowly than the recipe calls for:
Do you have any more time-saving slow cooker tips? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
Try some of these great slow cooker recipes next week:
I love trying new recipes with my girls, but there are a few go-to healthy slow cooker recipes that we can’t get enough of. Both of my daughters absolutely love the first recipe for slow cooker chicken tacos, but of course they add cheese to theirs… what kid doesn’t love cheese?!
Pro-Mom Tip: Try preparing these recipes with your kids, especially if you’ve got a picky eater, because kids are much more likely to try new foods if they’ve helped cook them! Don’t be afraid to omit certain ingredients (if they’re not main ingredients) if your kid refuses to eat them.
- 1 1⁄2 lbs chicken breast
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2 tsp cumin
- Corn tortillas
- Place chicken breasts into the crockpot with one jar of salsa, juice from one lime and 2
- tsp cumin slightly stir.
- Set the crockpot on either HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
- Shred the chicken with a fork.
- Optional: Heat corn tortillas in the microwave between 2 damp paper towels or in a small pan on the stove.
- Fill tortillas with chicken and add your choice of toppings (cilantro, plain greek yogurt, green onion, avocado, etc.)
- If you're following the 21 Day Fix meal plan, 1 serving (2 tortillas, 1/2 to 1 cup of chicken) = 1 veggie, 1 carb, 1 healthy fat, 1 protein
- 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (sirloin roast)
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 head of broccoli
- Season pork with salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes and place into the slow cooker.
- Push garlic cloves into the meat.
- Mix together the broth, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and pour over the pork.
- Drizzle honey over the top of the pork.
- Cook 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low, add broccoli last 30 minutes.
- Once the pork is cooked and tender, remove from the slow cooker with tongs and into a
- serving dish.
- Gently shred the pork and drizzle pour the juice from the slow cooker over top. Serve with sweet potatoes or rice if desired.
- If you're following the 21 Day Fix meal plan, use your containers to measure 1 protein and 1 veggie.
- 1.5 lbs raw lean beef stew meat, boneless, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup low-sodium organic beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1/4 chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (optional)
- Toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker except the fresh parsley.
- Cook on LOW for 10-12 hours or cook on HIGH for 4-6 hours.
- Remove the bay leaf and serve, top with fresh parsley if desired.