As those with chronic illness know, and their caretakers as well, we sometimes have difficulty completing “normal” daily tasks whether it’s cleaning, cooking, caring for our families, and sometimes even washing ourselves. I hate to admit it but it’s true, the struggle is real.
I enjoy cooking but lately the debilitating side effects of my illnesses have kept me from doing the things I enjoy. It takes everything I have just to get up in the morning and make my way to the couch. During rough times like these, one thing I do to make life a little easier is turn to my trusty slow cooker.
I used to be able to do recipes that had 40 ingredients and 100 steps but I can’t do that anymore. It’s gotta be simple, healthy, tasty and I gotta be able to do it in 30 seconds or less so I don’t have to stand in the kitchen too long.
So here are a few ideas of what I do for easy meals.
Soup– Make sure you are stocked up on frozen veggies. Any kind, any mixed variety, whatever you like best. They’re cheap, don’t go bad and don’t require prep. I literally grab a bag of frozen veggies, throw them in the crock pot, add broth, seasoning if I feel like it, cover and cook for 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 on high. The best part of this is that you’re getting tons of nutrition and soup always makes you feel better when you’re sick. On days I have more energy, I’ll add some rice, gluten free noodles, potatoes or beans to add more bulk.
Slow cooker chicken– When I want something heartier than soup, I just take some frozen chicken tenders, frozen broccoli or green beans, throw in a couple whole potatoes, add a little broth and seasoning and cook. You get a hearty meat and veggie meal with very little effort.
Pot roast– On the rare occasion that my husband wants some red meat, we buy a medium size pot roast, add in some potatoes, frozen veggies like broccoli and carrots, broth and seasoning and cook it for about 7 hours on low. We end up with a very filling dinner plus we always have leftovers for days to make sandwiches or add it to a breakfast scramble.
Overnight oatmeal– This meal couldn’t be any easier. You throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it cook overnight and wake up to a hot breakfast. Who wouldn’t love that? Take 1 cup of steel cut oats (do not substitute rolled or quick cooking oats), 4 cups water, pinch of salt and a few pats of butter and you’re done! Cook it on low for 6-8 hours. You can also add in some dried fruit, diced fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, or add in some milk, cinnamon, xylitol or anything else you love to have with your oatmeal.
Egg casserole– When I want a hearty breakfast without standing at the stove in the morning, I just make a big batch of this in the slower cooker and reheat it during the week. Take some chopped up bell peppers, onion, zucchini, broccoli, spinach or any other vegetable you like (you can get them all frozen and pre-chopped to make it easier) and throw them into the slower cooker. In a separate bowl, mix about 6-8 eggs with a little dairy free milk, salt and pepper then pour the egg mixture into the pot covering all the vegetables. I cook it for about 6-7 hours on low. Make sure you oil the slow cooker first or else it will stick.
These are just a few of the endless possibilities you have with your slow cooker. There’s tacos, lasagna, pastas, stuffed peppers, chili and so much more.
I love to do batch cooking as well. I will choose one day of the week, pull out my two slow cookers and get some meals cooking and then freeze them so I always have a meal ready to heat and eat.
And on days when I can’t even bring myself to do this much work, my husband is able to make these meals for us just as easily.
What are some of your tips and tricks for making life easier? Do you make slow cooker meals? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear what you do!