Aug 27, 2012

Back to School = I Love My Crock Pot!

'Round these parts, it's nearly time to get back to school. If you send your children off to public or private school, you may struggle with keeping breakfasts affordable and healthy. If you're a homeschooler, all meals (but especially dinner) may be a challenge. If you're looking for quick, healthy breakfast recipes, check out my previous post on back-to-school breakfasts. For one more breakfast idea - plus dinner ideas - keep reading here.

Do your kids eat oatmeal? If they do, consider yourself a fortunate woman! Oatmeal is cheap and healthy - and it's easy to cook. (Important Note: Don't use those little packets of instant oatmeal. They are expensive, packed with sugar, and most of the fiber and nutrition in the oats has been processed away in order to make the oats cook quickly.) Want to make oatmeal even easier to cook? Use a crock pot. Just pour 1 cup oats, 2 cups of dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, dried figs, etc. - or a combo of them), 4 cups of water, and 1/2 cup of half and half into the crock pot. Cover, turn on low, and go to bed. 8 to 9 hours later, the oatmeal is ready to eat.

Because, yes. For breakfast or dinner, a crock pot is also your greatest ally. And while it does take some planning to make crock pot cooking work, it's quite do-able:

1. Begin by making a list of dinners you want to make in the crock pot. I've posted a few here - plus there's my guide to converting recipes you already make to the crock pot. You'll find about a gazillion other crock pot recipes on the Internet, too.

2.Add all the ingredients to your shopping list, then go buy them. Now you have two choices:

A. Time needed during the week: about 10 or 15 minutes per day: Commit to pausing in your morning every single day to chop up and throw ingredients in the crock pot. If you eat at 5 pm, that means getting the crock pot cooking by 11 am or so.  Or...

B. Time needed during the week: about 1 minute per day, plus 30 to 45 minutes one day a week: Take one day and prep all the ingredients for the week. Label 7 freezer bags with the name of the recipe and any special instructions (so you don't have to refer to a printed recipe later in the week). Then cut up all the carrots you'll need for the week, for example, then all the onions, and so on, adding them to each bag as called for in each recipe. Seal the freezer bags, expelling as much air as possible. Toss in the freezer. Now, the night before, remove the desired bag and place it in the fridge to defrost so it's ready to put in the crock pot in the morning. NO, you don't need to blanch the veggies before you freeze them. Yes, there will be some loss of nutrients, but not a great deal. Certainly not enough to make you ditch home cooked meals for delivery.

For years, I resisted crock pot cooking. I just wouldn't make the time in the morning. But now I realize it's a huge time saver - allowing me more time with my children, or for other things that need doing. And this school season, I plan to do almost all my cooking through the crock pot. What about you?

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2 comments:

  1. My son left for college and took a crock pot with him! I've made so many meals over the years that he expects/wants a crockpot meal when he gets home from school. So I packaged up all the ingredients in bags for him and he "dumps" them into the crock pot before he heads out for classes and dinner is ready when he gets home!

    The only problem we have had so far is with his room mates! Is there such a thing as a locking crock pot?

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  2. Hi,
    LOove the site!!! I have a site that I'd like to invite you to it's called www.crockpotking.com, I myself am a believer, and the pic your using for the article, is the same pic I use for my banner for my site!!! Funny!!! Eiwther way, I have a ton of e books/ crock pots/ and recipes. My site was built for people on the go, and for families who work. So please feel feel free, and tell all your friends to link to it, and your facebook friends. Bye for now, and bless you from crock pot king!!!

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