Want to simplify the back-to-school dinnertime rush? Use a slow cooker! My slow cooker is without a doubt my favorite kitchen gadget. I use it at least once a week. Slow cookers are a big time and money saver for busy families. There’s nothing easier than dumping a few ingredients into the crockpot in the morning and turning it on. Add a vegetable and/or pasta as a side dish and boom! Dinner is done.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. But after working all day I just don’t want to spend all night in the kitchen. I want to enjoy my kids. And for me, there is nothing enjoyable about rushing around the kitchen with my kids underneath me while I am trying to cook.
If you’d like to ditch the dinnertime struggle this week, try these 5 Easy Slow Cooker Meals that our family loves: Italian Meatballs, French Onion Chicken, Cranberry Pork Roast, Chicken Tacos, and Balsamic Pot Roast.
Download the recipes here: 5 Easy Slow Cooker Meals for Back to School
Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when using a slow cooker:
- Always thaw meat before putting it into a slow cooker. Slow cookers cook very slowly at low temperatures and frozen meat won’t reach a safe temperature fast enough. Be sure to defrost foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- If you are not home during the ENTIRE slow cooking process and the power goes out, throw out the food – even if it looks done. If you are home when the power goes off, just finish cooking the ingredients immediately by some other means: gas stove, outdoor grill, etc.
- Avoid lifting the lid unless you’re stirring or checking the dish to see if it’s done – Temperature drops 10-15 degrees when you lift the lid and can add 20-30 minutes to the cooking time.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Recommended temperatures are: poultry (165 degrees), ground beef (160 degrees), beef steaks and roasts (145 degrees) and pork (160 degrees).
- While they can be a great time saver, leftover foods should never be stored in the slow cooker. Transfer them to shallow containers and place in the refrigerator to cool. Never leave foods in a turned-off slow cooker for long periods of time and don’t use a slow cooker to reheat foods. Instead, reheat in a microwave, an oven or a stove.
What’s your favorite slow cooker dish? Share with me on Facebook!