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Using Your Slow Cooker For Easy Weeknight Meals

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: February 1, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

Getting frozen food is the easiest way to skip the takeout and eat some decent food at home. This is especially true for those who have a busy day and come home knackered!

It also helps that frozen vegetables may just have more nutrition since the veggies are frozen as soon as possible after being harvested.

But if you have a slow cooker, you can make things interesting, no matter how busy the day has been.

How To Use A Slow Cooker For Easy Weeknight Meals

Slow cookers are great for frozen as well as regular foods. If you’ve been using the microwave or oven, here’s an upgrade that’ll allow you to have delicious feasts night after night without putting in the effort into cooking and cleaning that you don’t have the energy for.

Plus, you can freeze these meals yourself and save a pound or two. And I’ll tell you exactly how.

1. Make A Stew

Stews are great especially if there’s a little nip in the air. You can add any number of vegetables to them along with the spices of your choice and a broth and you’ll have a tasty meal at your disposal all week long.

Beef stew, for instance, can be made by throwing in some corn, peas, carrots and potatoes along with the meat, spices and broth. 

  • Step 1: Empty the ingredients into the slow cooker. Let it cook for 10 hours on low or 6 to 7 hours on high.
  • Step 2: 30 minutes before it is done, add water and flour to the cooker. Add the peas and corn and mix well.
  • Step 3: Let it finish cooking for the last 30 minutes and you’re done.

The same logic can be applied to pork and sweet potato stew which is another great pick for cold winter evenings. 

  • Step 1: Add some potatoes, onion and tomatoes to the pork loin.
  • Step 2: Cook them for 6 to 7 hours on low.
  • Step 3: Add some lime juice for flavour and mix it well for a second. And it’s ready.

2. Make Burritos Or Tacos

You can also use shredded meat to make burritos or tacos. You just need some enchilada sauce and black beans for perfection. Cook the meat in a slow cooker and you’ll have a filling, quite literally, for days.

  • Step 1: Cook the meat in a slow cooker for 6 to 7 hours till it is tender. Add any spices of your choice if you’d like.
  • Step 2: Shred the meat and stuff it in the burrito or taco along with any other veggies you want. Let the whole package broil for 5 minutes in the oven.
  • Step 3: Take it out and add the sauces of your choice. Dinner is served.

3. Get Creative With Chicken

There are any number of chicken dishes you can make if you have a slow cooker. Once you crack this code, which isn’t all that hard to crack in the first place, it’s the easiest thing to have a lovely warm meal at the end of a hard day.

Take for instance the Thai peanut chicken. You simmer the meat with peanut sauce in the slow cooker and serve it with rice. Here are the specifics.

  • Step 1: Take a bowl and put chicken breasts, peanut butter, veggie broth, cumin, peppers, soy sauce, lime juice and cumin. Mix them well and slow cook them for 3 to 4 hours on low.
  • Step 2: Once it’s done, place them on a bed of rice and add cilantro, scallions and peanuts on top. That’s it.

Then there’s creamy Italian chicken. That should appeal to you because it’s a great dish that’s easy to make and you’ll need only four ingredients to make it.

  • Step 1: Mix the chicken, cream cheese and seasoning in a bowl.
  • Step 2: Let the cooker do its thing for 4 to 6 hours on low heat. And it’s done.

4. Make A Soup

You can also make any number of delicious soups in a slow cooker. As expected at this point, it doesn’t take a lot of work and you’ll have tender vegetables or meat at your fingertips. Here’s how that works.

Take the sweet potato basil soup for example. You can make this creamy soup with sweet potatoes that are pureed along with coconut milk. 

  • Step 1: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let them cook slowly for about 3 hours on high heat.
  • Step 2: Take them out, let them cool and pour them into a food processor or a blender to mix until the end result is smooth and of a consistency that is to your liking.

That’s all there is to it. It’s pretty much the same for ham and pea soup as well.

  • Step 1: Heat some oil on high in a frying pan to saute onions. Add some cumin to them and let them cook till it starts to smell delicious.
  • Step 2: Transfer this mix to a slow cooker and add split peas, one apple, parsnip and ham lock to it along with 2 litres of water.
  • Step 3: Let the slow cooker do its thing for 6 to 8 hours on high heat. This will tenderise the ham.
  • Step 4: After it is cooked, chop the ham or shred it. Pour all the other contents into a food processor or blender and mix till it’s all smooth.
  • Step 5: Separate the ham and the hock. Get rid of the fat, skin and bone before you serve.
  • Step 6: Top it with lemon zest, ham and creme fraiche. A little extra oil on top and some pepper would be great additions too.

Parting Thoughts

A slow cooker is a gift to those who don’t have the time but won’t punish themselves with store-bought, suspiciously stale food. You want to think for no more than two seconds before you decide to buy this kitchen appliance that is more like a genie.

Maria Kelley