Posted in Kitchen Tip Tuesday, Meal planning, Real food, Recipe, tagged CrockPot, Lunch, midday meal, Real Food, simple, Slow cooker, Soup, stew on January 23, 2012|
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You’ll see in my menu plan this week that I am planning on bringing back dinner. The midday meal of yesteryear! Whether a larger midday meal works for your family or not, crock pot cooking is extremely convenient. So, if you are a “High for 4 hours” or a “Low for 8 hours” kind of gal, read on!
In theory, if I can plan ahead and get dinner (otherwise known as “lunch” :)) in the crock pot in the morning, either before or during breakfast prep, this should work like a dream. Think about it! This will mean that the bulk of the supper prep dishes that are usually staring at me (and often laughing) when I come downstairs after tucking the kids in will be done before noon. Oh, that sounds so good.
The problem with crock pot cooking is that it can mean a lot of trial and error to find recipes your family loves. And, if you are into eating real food, like we are, it can be difficult to find truly healthy crock pot dishes. No canned cream soups allowed! The following are some of my favorite sources for real food crock pot dishes:
- Soups and stews – Just about any of your favorite soups and stews can be modified to cook in the crock pot. If you plan to use ground beef, brown it before putting it in your crock pot. Beans will need to be cooked ahead of time, or use canned, if you plan to eat the soup at noon. If you plan to cook a cream soup in the crock pot, don’t add the cream or milk in the beginning. If you add it about half an hour before serving, the results should be delicious.
- Large Family Logistics – Kim Brenneman (who inspired me to use my crock pot more for the lunch meal!) has five yummy recipes specifically for the crock pot. If you are not into eating meat, or are looking to save money by eating fewer meals with meat, these can easily be converted to meatless as well. Also, check her easy lunches here.
- Make It Fast, Cook It Slow – Stephanie O’Dea is a wonderful writer in addition to being a fantastic source of amazing crock pot recipes. I happen to own both of her cookbooks, but all of those recipes, and many more, are available on her website. And, bonus – they are also gluten-free!
- Nourishing Crock Pot Carnival – Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking hosted a Nourishing Crock Pot Carnival back in 2009. Who knew I would still be loving it in 2012! There are definitely treasures in this link up.
These should absolutely be enough to inspire and motivate you to drag out your crock pot or to add a few new recipes to your usual line-up. Come back here and let me know if you find any gems! Or, just post your favorite recipe for us all right here in the comments.
I’ll be sharing this post with the readers over at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Good Cheap Eats.
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Welcome to my second post in a short series about different meal planning systems that might inspire you to actually develop a system that works for you. You can read about the Theme System here. Today, I am introducing the Rotating Weeks method.
This one takes less thought than the theme system, but also has less flexibility. This system works beautifully for people who have fairly predictable schedules from one week to the next. The idea behind this system is to come up with six weeks of meals all at once (or start with four if that seems less overwhelming), and then just rotate through them. When you reach the end of your six weeks – just start over at the beginning!
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Here is what you do:
- Write/type out six separate lists, Sunday – Saturday, and give some thought to your schedule. Evening activities, church, Bible studies, etc. need to be considered.
- Once you have your empty lists ready, and your schedule in mind – start filling in the blanks!
- Don’t feel pressured to make every meal different – who does that?! If you have pizza every Friday night, then fill in all your Fridays. Always make a roast on Sundays? Fill it in. Don’t forget to include eating out if that is a regular part of your week.
- If you are having trouble coming up with enough variety you have two options. Eat the same thing often :), or start searching for new recipes!
- When you have all of your main dishes figured out, go back and add sides. This will make creating your grocery list a breeze, and require even less thought from you in the future!
There are several reasons I love this system. First, once you put the work in to create the lists – you don’t have to do it every week!! You can also be intentional about planning date nights, family fun nights, nights when your kids cook, etc. If it is on the rotation, you’ll plan for it.
Another bonus if you use this system is freezer cooking. If you are making lasagna for tonight’s meal, it is extremely easy to make two at the same time and put one in the freezer. You know you’ll be eating it again fairly soon because it is on the rotation! No more freezer meals getting lost and never eaten with this system.
Stockpiling is also simplified if you know what you are making for the next six, twelve, eighteen weeks. If an item is on sale for the rock-bottom price, you can buy with confidence knowing how much to buy and that you are sure to actually use it!
When you find your groove with this system, I strongly encourage you to create two different rotations – one for Fall/Winter and one for Spring/Summer. If you do this, you will be sure to include the seasonal items we all crave and you’ll be ready to pull out the other plan when the seasons change.
At the beginning of your week, check your meal plan and make any minor adjustments (company coming so make a swap with another night’s meal, somebody wants their favorite meal on their birthday). Create your shopping list for things you don’t have in the pantry or freezer, add breakfast and lunch items and you are off!
Next up – the Three Meals A Day System.
- Menu Planning – The Theme System (blessedrootsblog.wordpress.com)
- A Dry Morsel (blessedrootsblog.wordpress.com)
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