healthy-crock-pot-meal

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Back to school is almost here, which means your life will be shifting from relaxation to chaos very soon. But don’t panic just yet! We have the secret weapon for getting you and your family back into the swing of things…your crockpot.

Crockpots, also referred to as slow cookers, are a godsend for moms bogged down by a hectic schedule. Crockpot cooking requires minimal prep time and minimal effort—two things that a busy mom loves to hear—and we’re betting that after you try it once, you won’t want to stop.

Here’s how it works: simply place the ingredients in the cooker, turn the temperature setting on low, and come home at the end of your day to a hot and ready meal. It’s really that easy! Plus, crockpots offer endless potential in terms of what they are capable of producing—from breakfast to dinner, and everything in between including dessert! So, whether you have a picky eater, food allergies to consider, or want to keep things fresh and healthy, your crockpot is up for the challenge.

Now the question is, what will you do with all your extra time? How about Finally running those errands you’ve been putting off for weeks? Spend some quality “me” time at the gym? Focus on that business presentation that’s coming up? The options are limitless.

It’s about time you dust off this kitchen essentials and get in tune with the meal-time lifesaver that both you and your family will love. So if you’re ready to keep your family full and happy, even when you’re all on the go, then try these 20 mouthwatering crockpot recipes:

20. Stuffed Shells with Spinach

1-Stuffed Shells

EveryDayGoodThinking.com

Remember how long your mother used to stand in the kitchen preparing stuffed shells? There was the long, tedious process of cooking the pasta, then the 15-20 minute wait for those shells to cool before you could even get to stuffing them with a ricotta mixture and organizing all of the ingredients into a Pyrex dish. In today’s world, who has time for that? Forget about this prep step altogether because your crockpot has got you covered!

This crockpot twist on a flavorful classic requires low maintenance, but still provides the same great taste you know and love. The best part is, you can prepare this meal around your schedule. If you know you have a busy day, pop the contents into the crockpot in the morning and set the cooker on low. Then simply arrive home a few hours later and dig in! If you come home on your lunch break, work from a home office, or have the day off, you can start this recipe later in the day. Set your cooker on high and in 3-4 hours you’ll be dishing out this ooey-gooey goodness for everyone to enjoy!

19. Citrus Fajita Chicken

2-Citrus Fajita Chicken

CarlsBadCravings.com

“Easy doesn’t equate to bland!” If you’re looking for a delicious meal fueled with flavor, then we have the perfect recipe for you: Citrus Fajita Chicken. At first glance, what may seem like a lengthy list of ingredients will result in a flavor-packed dinner sure to have your family asking for seconds, even thirds. And talk about versatile! You can eat this meal plain, wrap it in a tortilla, pour it over lettuce, or scoop it with Tostitos chips; go ahead and get creative!

18. Honey Sesame Chicken

Le Crémb de la Crumb

LeCremedelaCrumb.com

Tired of making the same old chicken dinners week after week? It’s time you mixed up your routine with a sweet and savory dish that will soon be your family’s favorite, Honey Sesame Chicken. In just four easy to follow steps, you’ll be serving up an Asian-inspired dinner that supplies the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. So what’s the catch? What if we told you there is none! This recipe is really easy to make and super tasty. Oh and we’ve saved the best part for last…it requires only 10 minutes of prep time!

17. Lo Mein

DamnDelicious.net

DamnDelicious.net

After a busy week, the last thing you want to do on a Friday night is cook; but before dialing your favorite Chinese restaurant and feeding your family a takeout meal loaded with sodium and calories, try this healthy alternative.

16. Buffalo Chicken Sliders

5 - Buffalo Chicken Sliders

SimplyStacie.net

Spice things up this Wednesday with a tasty twist on wing night. All it takes is five ingredients and your slow cooker. Don’t worry if your family prefers mild over hot, simply substitute the heat with a barbecue or teriyaki sauce. Whichever flavor you choose, this easy recipe is sure to please their palate and save you from all the mess.

15. Beef and Broccoli

YourCupofCake.com

YourCupofCake.com

Is getting your kids to eat broccoli always a battle? Say no more, we understand the struggle and have the solution—a scrumptious copycat recipe of another takeout favorite: Beef and Broccoli.

To make this dish, cut a boneless chuck roast or steak into bite sized strips; cover the meat in beef broth, brown sugar, sesame oil, and freshly minced garlic; and add in broccoli 30 minutes before serving. To make this dish even easier, add frozen broccoli instead of fresh and forget about all that chopping.

We recommend lining your crockpot for this one because you’ll be adding raw beef into your cooker. You’ll find these liners in the cooking aisle at your local grocery store, and yes, while that’s one more thing to buy, these liners are inexpensive and totally worth the time it will save you in cleaning up after dinner. Try this dish today and take the hassle out of getting your family to eat healthily.

14. Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Chef-in-Training.com

Chef-in-Training.com

When after school activities kick into high gear, don’t let dinner get brushed to the wayside and replaced by deep fried drive-thru food.

Before running out the door in the morning, combine cooked chicken, chicken stock, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil in your crockpot. Then when you get home, add heavy cream and serve. In just six steps you’ll have your family back around the dinner table.

13. Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili

ChelseasMessyApron.com

ChelseasMessyApron.com

What’s autumn without a bowl of chili to warm you from the inside out? From black beans to cream cheese, this dish has it all! Serve up a flavor rich bowl of Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili once temperatures begin to drop.

You can mix things up with this meal by serving it with Tostito chips as well!

12. Stuffed Bell Peppers

Life-in-the-Lofthouse.com

Life-in-the-Lofthouse.com

These are, by far, the easiest Stuffed Bell Peppers you will ever make! Start by slicing the tops off of each pepper and remove the stem and all of the seeds from the inside. Next, pour raw ground beef, enchilada sauce, onions, cooked rice, and cheese in a large bowl and stir the ingredients together. Then stuff! Be sure to fill each pepper to the top.

The more ground beef mixture that makes it into the peppers center, the better! Add one inch off water into your crockpot, stand the stuffed peppers upright, and set on low. Voila! Perfectly cooked stuffed bell peppers and half the time standing in the kitchen. See, we weren’t kidding when we said that crockpots provide endless potential.

11. Chicken Alfredo Pasta with Broccoli

ChelseasMessyApron.com

ChelseasMessyApron.com

Stray away from the traditional red sauce spaghetti dinner this week and try creamy slow cooked Chicken Alfredo Pasta with Broccoli instead. You’ll especially love this meal because it requires very little clean up. Rather than dirtying two pots, one for the sauce and one for the noodle, every ingredient in this recipe gets tossed right into the crockpot!

10. Chicken Marsala (via Le Crème de la Crumb)

LeCrembdeLaCrumb.com

LeCrembdeLaCrumb.com

Sticking with the Italian theme, we just had to share an out-of-this-world Chicken Marsala recipe with a thick, creamy wine sauce. Four skinless chicken breasts, a cup of sweet marsala wine, and a few dozen mushrooms later, you’ll be turning out a meal whose taste is on par with your favorite Italian restaurant. Garnish with some parsley and dive in!

Don’t even think about disposing any leftovers! Day two of this delectable dish is even better than day one because the chicken has had a little extra time to marinade. Boil some angle hair pasta, dice up the remaining chicken, and lather the plate in whatever sauce you still have left.

9. Sloppy Joes

12-Sloppy Joes

TheKitchn.com

Our list wouldn’t be complete without this childhood favorite. Once again, here’s a recipe where all of the ingredients go straight into the crockpot. Combine one and a half pounds of lean ground beef with freshly diced onions and peppers, Worcestershire sauce, a can of tomato sauce, and a medley of spices. Then let the nostalgia kick in! Bring out your inner child tonight with some oh so messy but oh so yummy Sloppy Joes.

8. Meatballs (via The Kitchn)

TheKitchn.com

TheKitchn.com

One meal that you can whip up now, and freeze for later is crockpot meatballs. Start by creating a ground meat mixture of breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, and household seasoning. Once the mix is made, roll the meat into a desired shape and size with your hands. Remember to not over work the meat at this step. Your crockpot can only do so much to keep the meatballs tender once they have left your hands.

If you decide you want to prepare your meatballs the night before, here’s where you’ll place them on a cookie sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and let them sit overnight. If you’re cooking them immediately, simply place the meatballs directly into tomato sauce in your cooker and coat them evenly. Once the meatballs are fully cooked, place contents into Tupperware containers and stick them in the freezer for a later date (up to three months). When you’re ready to eat them, defrost, reheat, and enjoy over spaghetti or in a roll.

7. Garlic Honey Chicken

MustLoveHome.com

MustLoveHome.com

The unbelievable smells that will come from your crockpot when you make this tangy Garlic Honey Chicken will stop your family dead in their tracks as soon as they walk through the door. The sweet and spicy, sticky sauce, made from honey, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, Sriracha, and minced garlic, enhances both the taste and tenderness of the chicken. Simmer crockpot contents for 3-4 hours on high, shred chicken directly in the cooker, and serve with white rice.

6. Chicken Noodle Soup

CookingClassy.com

CookingClassy.com

You know how back-to-school season works every year…the kids go back to school, pick up germs, and come home sick. When a sore throat and stuffy nose sets in, it’s time to stir up a batch of hearty, chicken-noodle soup. While making this classic soup in the crockpot may greatly differ from the way your mom used to make it, we promise it’s just as mmm mmm good. With just 15 minutes of prep and 7 hours of slow cooking, your little one(s) will be back on their feet in no time.

This is also a recipe you can make now and freeze for later. Nothing beats having this soup on hand when an unexpected cold comes on!

5. Cheeseburger Soup

16-Cheeseburger Soup

TheRecipeCritic.com

It’s easy to fall into the habit of running to McDonald’s, Wendy’s or the likes for a quick bite between school and sports. But what if you could recreate the much-loved flavors of the fast food cheeseburger at home and in a much healthier way? Well, you can and it comes in a form we bet you’ve never tried before: soup!

4. Banana French Toast

Diethood.com

Diethood.com

Breakfast always tastes better when it’s served for dinner, especially when that dinner is baked Banana French toast! This mouthwatering recipe calls for cinnamon soaked French baguette slices layered in bananas, pecans, and honey. If we’re wrong for wanting this dish for dinner, then we don’t want to be right. You won’t want to be either!

3. Macaroni and Cheese

TheCookieRookie.com

TheCookieRookie.com

No more artificial cheese and questionable noodles. It’s time to get your family hooked on the real thing. Two cups of elbow macaroni noodles, your crockpot, a little mixing, and a lot of cheese is all it takes. You’ll love how easy this recipe is and your family will love the taste!

2. Beef Stew

Life-in-the-Lofthouse.com

Life-in-the-Lofthouse.com

For those weekends that end up being just as busy as your week-nights, there’s nothing more satisfying than curling up on the couch with a bowl of veggie-loaded beef stew. This Beef Stew offers the textures and tastes that you crave on a lazy Sunday—tender beef, hearty potatoes, savory carrots, and sweet onions. All the good stuff!

1. Caramel Apple Crumble

FakeGinger.com

FakeGinger.com

And as promised, dessert! Get the entire family in the back-to-school spirit with the aromas and sensations of Fall. There’s no better way to send your kids off into a successful school year than with the wonderful flavors of a Caramel Apple Crumble!