We all live exceedingly busy lives. Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, working a full time job, a student, or an empty nester, your life is full from the time your feet hit the floor in the mornings until you roll into bed in the evenings. Hectic schedules can make eating healthy difficult, but it doesn’t have to be!
Using a slow cooker is a great way to provide healthy, yet simple, meals for you and your family that don’t have you working in the kitchen all night when you could be doing other things. Sometimes you can even prep a meal in the slow cooker the night before and stick it in the refrigerator. Then all you have to do is turn it on in the morning and dinner is cooking!
Here are some tips to make cooking healthier and a little less stressful. If you’re new to using a slow cooker, you might want to stay home for your first recipe attempt to ensure that your cooker is working properly.
Starting with a hearty soup is a great way to test out your cooker! Soups are fairly simple and are difficult to overcook. Healthy slow cooker soups are a great way to get vegetables into your meal plan. You can start them ahead of time and they’ll be ready for you when you get home from work. You can also cook soups in bulk and have some leftover to freeze. Just a note, you definitely want to make sure you have plenty of room in your cooker before doubling a recipe!
When using a slow cooker, don’t feel like you have to be married to the recipe. The point is to make your life a little easier, not more stressful if you happen to have carrots handy instead of squash. Adding any non-starchy vegetables to any slow cooker recipe is a fantastic way to get those necessary vitamins and minerals into your diet. Some examples would be carrots, onions, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, salad greens, tomatoes – and there are more! Another small tip that can make a big difference is using fresh herbs instead of dried. You can get a little bit more of those nutrients from fresh herbs while also packing in extra flavor but, if all you have are dried… that’s OK too!
Finally, don’t be afraid of adding some good whole grains to your slow cooker meals. Carbohydrates are not evil as so many diets would lead us to believe. Whole grains like barley, quinoa, and brown rice are rich in good carbohydrates, nutrients, and dietary fiber. Adding these to your soups is easy and tasty!
Healthy cooking doesn’t have to break the bank or take up all of your time. Using a slow cooker is affordable and simple. Try our simple Crock Pot Black Bean, Butternut Squash, & Quinoa Chili and enjoy sitting around your table with family or friends!