4 time saving slow cooker recipes

Chili con carne

If you’ve ever thrown together a peanut butter sandwich or lackluster salad for lunch before rushing out the door in the morning, then you know what a relief it is when you realize you already have a meal ready to go in the fridge. But packing your lunch the night before can be time-consuming, and it’s probably not what you feel like doing after a long day at the office. That’s why you should turn slow cooker cooking into a Sunday ritual. You can throw in a few ingredients when you wake up, go about your day, and by the time sun sets you’ll have a batch of soup, stew, or chili ready to portion out into storage containers for the week. Here are four healthy, easy slow cooker recipes to get you started.

  1. Chicken pho. Maybe your mother used her Crockpot exclusively for pot roasts and whole chickens, but the scope of the slow cooker is much larger if you’re creative—or social media-savvy enough to check out Pinterest. This Vietnamese chicken pho is a far cry from your mother’s pot roast. It brings the complex aromas and flavors of Asia to your kitchen in the form of a hearty soup. You start by combining pre-packaged chicken broth, fish sauce, brown sugar, star anise, and a handful of herbs and spices, then stick chicken breasts right in the liquid. Let the chicken cook to tender (high for four hours or low for eight), take it out and shred it, then toss noodles and bok choy back into the Crockpot with the chicken. Your meal will be ready in just 30 more minutes.
  2. Three-bean vegetarian chili. Pinto, kidney, and black beans form the backbone of this aptly named three-bean vegetarian chili. It’s even easier to make than the pho; you basically just dump the ingredients into the slow cooker, set it on low for eight hours, and head to work while the ingredients simmer. The list includes herbs and spices you probably already have in your cabinet (chili powder, cumin, salt), plus fresh garlic and a seeded jalapeno, Worcestershire sauce and onion, and the beans with canned, diced tomatoes. Top with sour cream, cheese, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
  3. Texas beef with butternut squash. Tender beef and vibrant butternut squash mingle in this Texas-inspired stew. It serves eight, so even if you have a few people over for dinner, you’ll still have some left over for lunch this week. Slice your beef chuck roast into two-inch chunks and cube your butternut squash, then throw them in the crockpot with fire-roasted diced tomatoes, beef broth, chiles and chile powder, onion, cocoa powder, and a handful of other seasonings.
  4. Vegetable pot pie. You don’t have to hover around the oven to make a tasty, savory pot pie. This veggie pot pie recipe puts most of the burden on your slow cooker. You will have to saute some of the vegetables in a skillet ahead of time (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, and mushrooms) with fresh garlic and salt and pepper, but then you move them right to the cooker. Then you craft the liquid base from vegetable broth, milk, and a few other ingredients, and finally make a biscuit-inspired topping. The biscuits serve as the final flourish for your pot pie, and only go on top of the veggie foundation about an hour and 15 minutes before you finish cooking.