I have found a wonderful way to save even more time with the slow cooker and that is to cook a few days' worth of meat at once and then use the cooked meat for a few nights' worth of upcoming meals. You will need a large slow cooker for this; if you don't have a large slow cooker, don't go out and buy one brand new since they are abundant at thrift stores.
Because I am working at serving healthier meals to my family, this article will be referring to boneless skinless chicken breast, but the idea can be applied with any meat.
The first day, after spraying the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray (great tip for easy clean-up), I added a few cut-up carrots to the bottom of the crock and seasoned them with seasoning salt. You could add any vegetables of your choice that would go with any of your upcoming meals. Then I added layers of boneless skinless chicken breast to the top (probably around three to four worth), seasoning each layer with fresh chopped garlic and seasoning salt (an added benefit is that your house will smell so good all day long). Be sure to trim any fat off the breast before adding to the pot. I added about 1/2 cup of water, placed the lid on top and turned the slow cooker on to low for about eight hours. It was very easy work for enough succulent cooked meat for at least three days' worth of meals!
Meal #1: The first night we had chicken sandwiches. After spraying a pan with non-stick cooking spray, I toasted onion buns over medium heat, then let the family add their own condiments like sliced tomato and onion, lettuce, mayonnaise, mustard, etc., and a piece of the cooked chicken. They were delicious! I served oven fries with the sandwiches. Simply slice potatoes, put them on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, spray the potatoes with the cooking spray, season, and cook at 400 degrees F for 40-60 minutes. Honestly, these are better than the ones drenched in oil, and I am one that loves deep-fried French fries and all the fattening foods!
Meal #2: Since I have some more onion buns from meal #1, I will make a delicious barbecue sauce (you can use bottled if you prefer), then add chunked up chicken to the sauce and serve that over the toasted onion buns. We'll have the carrots that were cooked with the chicken and baked potatoes on the side.
Meal #3: I'll make a delicious marinara sauce, then add cut-up cooked chicken to it and serve over spaghetti with garlic bread on the side. A great way to add flavor and nutrients to spaghetti or marinara sauce is to add finely minced carrots, celery or other vegetables to the sauce. You can saute them along with the onions, or add them straight to the sauce.
These are just a few ideas. Chicken is so versatile that there are endless ideas for using the cooked meat in meals. You could do salads, soups, casseroles and more. If you are making a soup, be sure to use the delicious broth that this creates!
I hope this gives you inspiration for dusting off your slow cooker and putting it to use. They are such a great way to save time, even if you use them for one night's meal.
Monica Resinger is a loving wife and doting mother of two who enjoys gardening, painting, dancing and homemaking. You can check out some of her other articles at http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Monica_Resinger
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