The fast-paced life of a renter can be chaotic – especially in the kitchen. The last thing most renters want to do is have to worry about dinner when they get home from work or other activities. Planning a week’s worth of meals is often impractical because of last minute schedule changes, or disruptions. There is a simple way to eliminate all that stress, chaos, and confusion. Every renter needs to be acquainted with one of the greatest kitchen appliances ever invented – the crock pot. Once you learn about the unlimited possibilities that crock pot cooking offers you, you’ll never have to fret about planning meals or the amount of time it takes to cook a healthy meal after being gone all day.
Using the Crock Pot for Soups, Stews and Chili
The crock pot is ideal for making fantastic tasting soups that are hearty enough to take the place of a main dish. You can throw a salad together, slice some crusty bread, and have a healthy meal by using your crock pot to make homemade soups.
Crock Pot Hearty Bean Soup
To make a hearty bean soup in your crock pot, you will need the following ingredients:
- One (1) large can of diced tomatoes – plain, Italian or whatever flavor you prefer.
- At least one (1) large onion – diced.
- Several stalks of celery – diced
- Several carrots – peeled and diced.
- One bag of mixed beans for soup – or any other type of dried beans you choose.
- Soup bones such as ham hocks or shanks
*If you are short on time, you can by frozen recipe ready vegetables in the freezer section at the grocery store.
Place the beans in a colander and rinse them thoroughly. Drain the water. Throw the beans, diced vegetables, and canned tomatoes into the crock pot. Place the bones on top of everything else. Add water and stir the beans and vegetables so they don’t stick to the bottom. Turn the crock pot on low and let it cook.
If you do this the night before, you can remove the soup bones from the crock pot in the morning. After placing the bones on a cutting board, separate the fat and bone from the meat. Discard the fat and bone and return the meat to the crock pot. Stir it to mix the meat in with the rest of the soup. Season with salt and pepper, and turn the crock pot down to the warm setting. Once you get home, turn the crock pot up to high to heat the soup for a few minutes before serving it. Since this makes a lot of soup, you can put half of it into smaller freezer safe containers so you have soup on hand to use later.
Crock Pot Beef or Chicken and Vegetable Soup
This is the perfect soup you can throw together using whatever vegetables you have in the refrigerator. This is a fantastic way to use up vegetables when you can’t think of anything to do with them, but don’t want them to go to waste or spoil. Gather your vegetables together and wash them thoroughly. Peel anything that needs to be peeled and cut everything up into small chunks.
Throw the vegetables in a crock pot. If you have leftover beef or chicken, throw that in, too. Don’t worry about cutting it up. As it cooks, it will tenderize and fall apart anyway.
Add stock (if you don’t have meat on hand,) or water if you’re using meat. Turn the crock pot on low and let it cook. By the time you get home, you’ll have a piping hot, delicious homemade soup that is just waiting for you to serve yourself and anyone else.
Pulled Pork, Beef or Chicken for Sandwiches
Pulled meat with barbecue sauce is super easy to make, and you get many servings out of very few ingredients. What’s more, it freezes well, so you get plenty of food for several days of meals and enough to freeze so you can have a stash of food on hand in your freezer. No more excuses that you don’t have anything for dinner. Your crock pot will help you stock your freezer, while giving you delicious meals right now, and for the days ahead.
For pulled meat, you don’t want to buy a good cut of meat. You want something with plenty of marbling. You may also want to beef or pork that has a bone. You can also use an entire chicken or just buy chicken or turkey breasts with the skin and bone on.
Put the cut of meat in your crock pot. Add some water or broth to cover the meat. Season it with salt, pepper, cover and set the crock pot to low. The meat will cook for at least 8 hours. When you get home, remove the meat from the crock pot. Put it on a cutting board or in a large mixing bowl, and using two forks, pull it apart until it is all thoroughly shredded.
Add your favorite barbecue sauce a small amount at a time, mixing it in so the meat can absorb the sauce. Once the meat is completely covered with barbecue sauce, you can either return it to the crock pot to heat it completely or take enough for the number of servings you need and heat that in the microwave. Put a spoon full of barbecue on your sandwich buns or rolls and serve. It goes very well with packaged Cole slaw.
A crock pot is even suitable for making spaghetti sauce, pot roast or beef or pork roasts, or even for roasting a whole chicken, small turkey, or whole turkey breast. As you get used to using your crock pot, you will discover more ways to use it. This will help you come up with your own recipes and variations on old favorites. With a crock pot, you’ll never have to worry about not having anything for dinner, or not having time to put a healthy meal on the table – whether it is just for you, or something you’re making for family, or even guests.