Slow Cooker Recipes from Around the World

I’ve spent several weeks rounding up the best recipes for your slow cooker in every category I could think of. We started with sandwiches and side dishes and moved on to Tex-Mex favorites and breakfast/brunch options. The variety of flavors you can achieve with slow cooking is absolutely amazing, moving way beyond soups, stews and chicken. Today, I’m adding some international flavor to our series with slow cooker recipes from around the world that I’m sure your family will enjoy.

 

Africa, India and the Middle East

  • This African Pulled Beef Sandwich is based on a sandwich served at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And while it may not be as authentic as the one you would find in Africa, it’s  so flavorful you just might think you’re there!

Photo credit to Sharon of Plated with Style

  • There’s nothing like sitting down at the table and seeing something gorgeous like this Moroccan Chicken. It’s a delicious blend of sweet and nutty that Sharon of Plated with Style shared for those days when a few hours in Morocco sounds just perfect.
  • Tender beef cooked with mid-East flavors and stuffed in pocket bread could be none other than Beef Shwarma. It’s delightful made with chicken too and served with cucumber-yogurt sauce or the more traditional tahini sauce.

  • Chicken Curry is so quick and flavorful you’ll find yourself making it from memory, and making it often. The flavor profile of chicken, curry and coconut is distinctly Indian and you can adjust the spicy factor simply using mild or hot salsa.
  • If you’re looking for an easy healthy dinner with an Indian flair, then you’ll want to check out this Chickpea Curry (Vegetarian) from Steph at 52 Kitchen Adventures. As Steph says, “You’ll come home to a fragrant cloud of Indian spices”!

Photo creadit to Julie at Table for Two

  • Unlike other recipes for the same dish, this Chicken Tikka Masala from Julie at Table for Two allows you to dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker without a bunch of prep steps. And with its wonderful Indian flavor, it’s a win-win!

Asian

  • If you love the flavors from Asia, you won’t want to miss out on the 19 delcious and easy recipes in this Asian slow cooker Round Up that I shared last year!

European

  • This Italian Round Up that I shared last year has 20 recipes to satisfy any Italian-lovers palate. I dare you to try reading without a hint of hunger! Good luck with that one.
  • This recipe for Basque Tuna with Potatoes was adapted by Lydia of The Perfect Pantry from a recipe found in a cookbook titled “Slow Cooker Comfort Foods”. It really needs no other recommendation with a title like that. Enjoy!

Photo credits to Mel’s Kitchen

Photo credits to Kalyn’s Kitchen

  • Does it get more classic than Greek Rice with red peppers, feta and kalmata olives? I think not! Not only does Kalyn’s recipe, found at Kalyn’s Kitchen, sound delicious, it’s just plain beautiful. And even the rice is cooked in the slow cooker!
  • Greek Cauliflower Rice Bowls are a delightfully healthy option for those who want to stay away from rice for one reason or another. The taste of riced cauliflower is not identical to rice, but when you add the right seasonings it’s a wonderful option! Check out Kalyn’s recipe and let me know what you think.
  • If you love the flavor of gyros, but don’t usually pick up lamb on your grocery run, then you’ll want to try Kate’s Chicken Gyros from Kate’s Recipe Box.

Photo credits to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • To borrow Mel’s words, “Slow Cooker + unique and flavorful spices + tender chicken + crunchy fresh veggies = a perfect weeknight meal”. That’s how she describes her Greek Chicken Pitas, and I would have to agree. Try them!

The Americas

  • Two weeks ago I shared an entire Tex-Mex Round Up with some of my favorite slow cooker recipes with a Southwestern Tex-Mex flair. It’s definitely worth a few minutes to check out the comfort foods with a kick in this collection.
  • My slow cooker Jambalaya recipe is a wonderful blend of Andouille sausage, rice and the classic jambalaya spices. An ultimate comfort food for those who like a touch of Cajun spice in their menu!

  • When you can cook up and freeze the meat filling for this tasty Cuban Sandwich then you always have a great dinner option just ready to go. These pressed sandwiches are even better because they travel well and we can all think of days when that it the perfect dinner option!

It’s really fun to see how creative you can be with your slow cooker. The possibilities stretch way past soups, stews, and chicken. I’m sure you can see how easily they stretch all the way around the globe!

I hope you enjoy your culinary world tour this week and join us next week for the sweetest of conclusions to our slow cooker series. It’s sure to be a treat for all!

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – It’s feast or famine around here!

1.  Recipe Testing – the feast/famine part

I’m working hard to get all the recipes for my cookbook done by mid-August.  That means that I’ve been testing about 12 or more recipes a week.  Some days we have a LOT of food!

If it’s a day I’m not testing though, we may have little to nothing.

Or we might have three or four main dishes and no sides.  Then once I hit the side dish chapter, we had meals that were all side dishes and no mains.

Now we’re in the dessert chapter, so it could be sugar overload soon!

2. NYC Trip

I took a break from recipe testing last week.  We went to NYC with our two youngest kids and a few other families.  We had a fantastic time!  Highlights include:

Seeing Hello Dolly! on Broadway

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge at night

Visiting the September 11 Memorial and Museum

And a lot more – I think we saw everything in New York, at least it felt that way from all the walking.  We had such great time!

3. Sale on Healthy Kickstart Plans – only through July 20

Last year I created a new meal plan that many of you have asked for – low carb, lots of lean meats and vegetables, low sugar, but still family friendly.  I called it Healthy Kickstart and launched it in December.  

Healthy Kickstart was only available for a couple of weeks.  It’s been closed since January 10th.  Until now! 

I’ve decided to offer the Healthy Kickstart Meal Plans again for a short amount of time.  These meal plans will only be available until July 20.  

Why Healthy Kickstart

I heard from many of you that you’re looking for meal plans that could be Whole30 friendly or paleo friendly.  Some of you wanted to reset your eating, some want to eat like this on a regular basis.  

The four weeks of meal plans included in Healthy Kickstart have the easy recipes you love from Eat at Home, but they’re among the healthiest we offer.

With Healthy Kickstart plans you’ll save several hours a week in planning, plus save money by not eating out and working from a plan.  

Once again, this is only offered for a short time.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever offer these plans again in this format.  As a bonus, if you choose to purchase Healthy Kickstart plans now, you’ll also receive an option of adding the 12 Month Meal Plan membership for a great price too.

Healthy Kickstart Meal Plans are available now through July 20 for just $14.  Click here to find out more and purchase.

 

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Slow Cooker Breakfasts for a month of weekdays

It’s a well-established fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Some would argue that it’s also the tastiest. But many would also agree that it’s the toughest one to get on the table and actually enjoy before the demands of the day kick in. With the aid of your slow cooker and a little outside-the-box thinking a healthy make-ahead breakfast can be more than a possibility. Today I’m sharing enough slow cooker breakfasts for a month of weekdays. That’s an entire month’s worth of prepped the night before and simply scooped out and enjoyed in each morning.

Breakfast Casseroles

  • This Breakfast Casserole from Karen at 365 Days of Crockpot includes all the basics – sausage, eggs, hash browns and cheese. And you really can’t go wrong throwing in a few veggies too, like spinach or mushrooms.
  • This Easy Breakfast Casserole is perfect for a late morning brunch or cooking all night for an early breakfast. It’s a classic comfort food at it’s best
  • I’ve added a little trick to my slow cooker Hashbrown Casserole that allows you to enjoy some breakfast ham or smoked sausage with your hashbrown casserole and very little extra effort.
  • This Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole is not your basic cheesy potato dish. It’s been kicked up a notch or three compliments of my sister and her crowd-pleasing comfort-food recipe.

  • Frittatas are such a filling option for breakfast or brunch, and this Ham and Swiss Frittata is no exception. It’s loaded with wonderful flavors and it just looks pretty sitting on a plate, though it won’t last long there at all!

Grains & Sweets

  • Grits are a staple here in the south, but they do take a chunk of time in the morning. Unless you have this recipe for Slow Cooker Grits from Add a Pinch, that is. Then you can put your grits in the night before and they’re all ready for a hearty southern breakfast come morning.
  • This Cinnamon Swirl Pancake Bake from Dawn at Cutefetti only takes about an hour in the morning and it bakes while you get the rest of your day started. As opposed to stopping your routine to fix breakfast. How wonderful is that?!

Photo credit to Mary at Berefeet in the Kitchen

  • Peanut butter and chocolate chips and granola and a slow cooker? There’s really no need to convince you to try this Chocolate Chip Granola from Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen now is there? Yum!

Oatmeal 6 Different Ways

  • If you’ve ever wanted a big slice of apple pie for breakfast, but just didn’t see it as a healthy option, then this Slow Cooked Apple Oatmeal recipe is for you. In an attempt to keep it healthy, I would recommend adding milk as opposed to ice cream as a side.

  • If hot spiced apple cider is more to your liking, then you’ll want to toss this Hot Spiced Apple Cider Oatmeal into the slow cooker before you head to bed tonight. Waking up in the morning shouldn’t be a problem with the lovely scent that will greet you!
  • The citrus flavor with the sweet-tart cranberry taste is a great way to start the day. Especially when it comes in the form of a bowl of Cranberry Orange Oatmeal as opposed to say a sugar-topped muffin.
  • It’s a good thing when your husband texts you mid-morning to tell you that breakfast was awesome. When he does that two different morning, then you know you have a winner of a recipe. You can find out what all the fuss is about this Gingerbread Oatmeal!

  • Peaches and cream for breakfast? Yes, please! You can add this Peaches and Cream Oatmeal to your slow cooker and set it to be ready in the morning. You’ll find the recipe and a sweet little tip to make your slow cooker programmable, just in case you didn’t purchase a programmable one.
  • Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal is full of all the pumpkin pie spices we know and love, and you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving, or October to enjoy it. It’s perfectly cozy and tasty all year round!

Fruits & Such

  • Scalloped Peaches would make for a wonderful weekend breakfast paired with a favorite protein and a tableful or family. There’s something about fresh fruit that makes you just want to slow down and enjoy a bit. It’s such a great tone to set for the day, don’t you think?
  • Steph’s Poached Stuffed Pears, from her blog 52 Kitchen Adventures, would make a fine dessert. But why not breakfast with their fruit, nut and sweet spice ingredient list. It’s definitely a sweet way to start your day!

Photo credits to Steph at 52 Kitchen Adventures

  • This Blueberry Butter is similar to an apple butter, but obviously with blueberries. Steph shared this on her blog 52 Kitchen Adventures and it’s such a great way to savor the flavor of blueberries all year round, on toast or pancakes or mixed in with yogurt. Yum!
  • Homemade Apple Sauce is super easy to make if you have an apple corer/peeler. And once you have the homemade apple sauce, you’ll be hard pressed to go back to the store-bought variety. Ever.

Photo credits to Kimberly at Daring Gourmet

  • Did you know that you can make Yogurt in your slow cooker using this recipe from Kimberly at The Daring Gourmet? It does take time for the yogurt to process, but the hands-on time is minimal and the result is a creamy Greek yogurt that you can top enjoy with pretty much all of the other breakfast recipes I’ve shared here.

Clearly, slow cookers are for much more than just dinner!

Try a few of these recipes this week and tell me if your morning coffee doesn’t taste just a little better when it’s accompanied with a hearty breakfast that you didn’t have to stress over as soon as your feet hit the floor! Which one will you start with?

 

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – June 26

1. So much recipe testing!

I’m determined to get the recipe testing portion of the cookbook done by the time school starts. That means doing lots of recipe testing.  This week I tested eleven recipes.  Ten main dishes and one dessert.  Plus I did a Facebook Live video showing how to make Peach BBQ Pork Sandwiches.

We had food coming out of our ears around here!  I gave dinner to our neighbors across the street three nights and shared some of the rest with other friends.

Favorites from this week included Autumn Chicken Skillet and a quinoa salad that’s packable for meals on the go.  My youngest said that is her favorite thing I’ve ever made.  She even ate it for breakfast one day.

2.  VBS snack planning

Our church is doing VBS this week and I’m doing the snacks.  We have a lot of kids come from the neighborhood and they don’t always get enough to eat, so I try to make the snacks fairly healthy and filling.

This year we’ll be having:

Snack mix with yogurt cups

Apples, cheese and crackers

Watermelon, cheese and turkey rolls, pretzels

Popsicles and granola bars

3.  Cherry Cobbler

We went to Ohio to see Jim’s family last Sunday and I took this Cherry Cobbler.  It’s not always easy to find tart cherries, unless you know someone with a tree, but I’ve been able to find them in Meijer freezer section recently.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – Plus the book everyone was reading at the beach

1.  Beach food!

We’ve been home from the beach for a week now, but I wanted to tell you a little about the food we had.  Fifteen of us rented a house on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  To keep costs down and to keep things simple, we always eat at the house instead of going out.

My mom is a fantastic cook and super organized.  She started cooking and freezing food in February – waffles, banana bread, lots of cookies, stuffed shells, bbq, chicken tetrazini….  There was so much food and it was all delicious!

She and dad packed it on dry ice in a giant cooler.  My sister and daughter talked me into doing a Facebook Live video of us unpacking it all.  You can watch it here.

One question people always ask is why would anyone do that?  Why cook and freeze all those meal?  We’ve been doing this for years (I should say that Mom has been doing it for years, the rest of us just eat) and it has saved so much money and time.

This year we were close enough to restaurants to go out if we’d wanted to, but restaurants for 15 people X 7 days = $$$$$$$

The last time we went to the beach we stayed very far away from anything and it wouldn’t have been convenient to go out to eat, unless we wanted to drive 30 minutes each way to do it.

And when we’re in Disney World, we try to eat dinner and breakfast at the house and eat lunch in the parks.

Saving that money is part of what makes the vacations affordable for us.

2. New sealing rings for the Instant Pot

The only draw back to the Instant Pot or any pressure cooker is that the rings can gather smells.  I’ve figured out how to reduce the smell, but I can’t get rid of it all the way.  To reduce it, I use 3 tabs of denture cleaner, like efferdent.  Weird, but it’s the only thing that helps.

Finally though, I ordered a set of new rings from Amazon (affiliate link).  They were around $10, but Amazon pricing changes quickly.  There are three in different colors, so I’ve designated one for main dish type meals, one for sweet things like apple sauce and one for neutral foods like oatmeal and rice.

3.  Dishwasher installed and it works!

We’re loving having a dishwasher again after 11 months of hand-washing.  This one is very quiet, which I’m happy about.

The most popular book in our group at the beach:

Several of us took books to the beach, but one book made the rounds.  Isaac decided to read all of Andy Andrews’ books this summer and he brought The Noticer with him to the beach.  He finished it. Our oldest daughter read it. My mom read it (she never reads!), and my niece read it and gave the copy to my sister to read.  My parents ordered copies for my dad to read and to give to their church library.

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.  The Noticer, The Noticer Returns, The Traveler’s Gift and The Little Things are all fantastic.

What works in the kitchen this week for you?  And what have you been reading lately?

This post contains affiliate links.

 

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Eat at Home Habit #7 – Pantry and Freezer Challenge!

It’s the final post in our series on 7 Habits for Eating at Home.

If you are just joining us and would like to catch up on the other topics we’ve covered including topics planning meals around your calendar, quick and simple grocery shopping tips, stocking your freezer, the 15-minute meal, tools and tips for mastering time-saving cooking methods and a collection of dinner conversation starters. Today we have the perfect way to wrap up our series on healthy eating habits with a pantry and freezer challenge.

Habit #7 – Pantry and Freezer Challenge

One habit that needs to be in the rotation for all of us is the occasional pantry and freezer challenge.  We are blessed to live in a country where food is abundant and getting it in hand is easier than it ever has been before. We have the ability to buy and store all kinds of food to keep on hand whenever we want it. We can even have it delivered to our door in some instances!

But the other side of that coin is it’s easy to keep buying things we don’t need while letting ingredients we already have languish and spoil in the pantry and freezer. Of course, wasted food is not only sad but it’s not really great for the budget either. So I like to be intentional about taking a week or two every so often to go through what I have and make a plan for using it up in my meals. This means I waste much less food than before and still put great meals on the table for my family!

Here are a few tips for taking a week (or more) and using up the food that’s been hiding in your kitchen and turning it into delicious and satisfying meals for your family.

  • Go on a search and rescue mission in your pantry and freezer.  You need to know exactly what you’ve got in there.  Examine expiration dates, pitching what’s already past its prime.  Make a list of what you find.
  • Search recipes for meals that use the foods you find.  Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients and get creative in your cooking.
  • Grab a calendar and plot out your meals. You might surprise yourself and be able to plan several weeks or a whole month!
  • Commit.  Stay out of the stores as much as possible and keep to your plan.  One way to commit is to designate a way to spend or save the money you’re not spending on groceries.  If you budget a regular amount of money for the grocery, during your pantry and freezer challenge you won’t be spending that.  That means you can put that money aside for something needed or fun!

I think this pantry and freezer challenge is the perfect way to end our 7 Habits of Eating at Home series.  I’d love it if you took a moment and told me what you’re making from your pantry and freezer this week!

Here are a few more things that might be helpful in your pantry and freezer challenge this week

 

Next week we’re starting a new series on Summer Slow Cooking and Pressure Cooking. Let’s keep the kitchen cool together!

Read all the posts in the 7 Successful Habits for Eating at Home

  1. Plan Meals around your calendar and lifestyle
  2. Simplify Grocery Shopping to save time and money
  3. Stock up your freezer with easy meals and shortcuts
  4. Plan 15-minute meals for busy days
  5. Master time-saving tools in the kitchen–before you are in a time crunch!
  6. Create intentional conversation and connection with your families at the dinner table + FREE PRINTABLE!
  7. THIS POST: Use up what you already have by shopping from your pantry and freezer when you plan your menu at least a few times a year!
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Easy Summer BBQ & Grilling Recipes Your Family will Love

When it comes to favorite foods, barbecue seems to be the answer to a variety of dinner menu dilemmas. Needing a quick dinner? BBQ! Hankerin’ for comfort foods? BBQ! Feeding a crowd without breaking the budget? BBQ! Perfect meal for a grill or even the slow cooker that won’t heat up the kitchen? BBQ! You get the idea! Not only is it the answer to #AllTheQuestions, there are as many recipes for BBQ as there are occasions to enjoy it. And that’s precisely why I’ve gathered up the quintessential list of BBQ & Grilling recipes that your family is sure to love!

BBQ & Grilling Recipes for the Perfect Backyard Gatherings

For the Surf Lovers…

And the Turf Lovers…

And we can’t forget Chicken …

  • A few years ago, Kim shared this recipe for Chicken and Veggies Foil Packets on the Grill. Simple, tasty and virtually no cleanup!
  • For those of you who prefer a little kick, this BBQ Pepper Jack Chicken uses Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, our family favorite, and pepper jack for a quick 4-ingredient grilled dinner.
  • These BBQ Chicken Fajitas start with a great idea like Chicken Fajitas and take it up a few notches with grilling and BBQ. Yum!

  • If you’re looking for the secret to the perfect grilled chicken legs, you’ll find it in my BBQ Chicken Legs recipe. Shhh!

And then there’s Pork … and Pizza …

  • The flavor of this Easy Grilled Pizza is hard to beat, and it’s a perfect assemble-yourself dinner for each family member or guest while enjoying some together time outdoors.

No Grill? No problem! How about some awesome BBQ flavors in your slow cooker or instant pot?

  • For all you coffee lovers, these Red Eye BBQ Ribs will absolutely make your day!
  • My Chili Sauce Chicken Legs are a wonderful blend of sweet and spicy.
  • Zingy BBQ Chicken packs a powerful flavor punch by combining two classic marinades in one recipe. Check it out!
  • Peach Pulled Pork Sliders are a delicious combination of pulled pork, peach salsa and Hawaiian rolls, and it includes a perfect side recipe of Apple Cole Slaw.I’m not really sure why I decided to combine the ingredients I did for these

 And a little more Grilling and Barbecue goodness

Did you know that you can make these EASY Freezer Marinades, pour them over frozen meat and pop them back in the freezer until you’re ready to pull them out and toss them on the grill? It’s true. Simple. Tasty. Everybody wins!

  • And while your meat is marinating and grilling, here are a few perfect Barbeque sides to add to the table.
  • Before you shut the grill down, toss some pineapple slices on for this wonderfully sweet and light Grilled Pineapple Dessert.

Granted, June is designated as National Barbecue Month and that’s a good enough reason to bust out your favorite barbecue sauce and try some of the recipes above. But let’s be honest, BBQ & grilling isn’t just for June or even summer for that matter. Is there a better way to brighten up a cold winter day than a slow cooker barbecue dinner? Let’s hear it for menus that are tasty problem-solvers all year round!

Happy grilling!

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Eat at Home Habit #6 – 21 Dinner Conversation Starters & FREE Printable!

We’re nearing the end of our series on 7 Habits for Eating at Home.  Today’s habit is most important. ?You may be asking why this one is so much more important than all the time-saving tips we’ve been sharing. That’s because dinner may be about the food, but family dinner is very much about the conversation and connections made with each other around the dinner table at mealtime.

Habit #6 – Intentional Dinner Conversation

Eat at Home’s mission is to encourage families to cook and eat at home together so they can leverage dinnertime to build a strong family.

Building a strong family is what making family dinner a priority is all about.  When we spend time together around the table, it strengthens our relationships to each other as we share food and good conversation.  It’s a chance to slow down a minute, look each other in the eye, talk together and really listen to each other. And it’s a great time to check in with our spouse and kids and see how things are really going for them.

A lot of the conversation around the table happens naturally, but sometimes it’s really nice to have a jumping off point to get the conversations started. Having some predetermined conversation starters can be a great way to talk about things that don’t normally come up in conversation but that help us get to know our families better. Sometimes it’s a great way to share favorite memories, learn new things, and share a lot of laughs.

We created a list of 21 fun conversation starters you can use at dinner tonight. Don’t forget to download the free, printable version of the list too!

Dinner  Conversation Starters

  1. Tell about one of your favorite teachers.
  2. If you could be real-life friends with a fictional character, who would you chose?
  3. Which do you think is more important – music or visual art?
  4. Would you ever want to be famous? Why or why not?
  5. What’s one subject they don’t teach in school that you wish they would.
  6. Name a place in your hometown that you’d like to visit, but never have. Make plans to go!
  7. If you had out-of-town guests coming to visit, what would you take them to see in your town?
  8. If you could instantly be good at one thing, what would it be?
  9. What’s your most important possession?
  10. What is your favorite part of the day?
  11. How much time do you think people should spend on the internet each day? How much time do you spend online each day?
  12. What’s your favorite thing to do online?
  13. Do you think it’s good to be bored sometimes?
  14. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re bored?
  15. If it was possible to book a flight into outer space, would you go?
  16. What’s one daring thing you’d like to try? It doesn’t have to be something that’s daring for everyone, just daring for you.
  17. What’s one of your favorite smells?
  18. If you could bump into a famous person during the day tomorrow, who would you choose?
  19. Would you ever consider living in a historic time period (if time travel were possible)? Which one and why?
  20. Do you think it’s better to binge watch a tv show or have to wait on new episodes to be released?
  21. Do you like starting things more or finishing them?

Download the FREE printable version of this dinnertime conversation list here. 

This post contains affiliate links. Your clicks and purchases help support this site at no extra cost to yourself! 

If you’d rather have something that’s already made up, TableTopics makes tons of fun options to get conversations going. They have everything from conversation starters for couples to conversation starters for family reunions or girls night out! This one is especially for family dinners though, and looks like lots of fun! I love how they are all contained in sturdy little boxes too.

Healthy Habits for Eating at Home

If you are just joining us and would like to catch up on the other topics we’ve covered including topics planning meals around your calendar, quick and simple grocery shopping tips, stocking your freezer, the 15-minute meal and a collection of tools and tips for mastering time-saving cooking methods.

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Eat at Home Habit #5 Master time-saving cooking methods

We’re in the middle of a series on 7 Habits of Eating at Home with tips on each habit to help in establishing out own healthy habits. We’ve covered topics like planning meals around your calendar, quick and simple grocery shopping tips, stocking your freezer and the 15-minute meal. Today we delve into some tools and tips for mastering time-saving cooking methods.

Habit #5 – Master time-saving cooking methods

In Habit #1 we talked about consulting your calendar when making out your meal plan so that the amount of time and the time of day available for cooking matches up with the recipe.

Strategically choosing slow cooker recipes, pressure cooker meals, sheet pan dinners, and 15-minute meals depending on what your day or week is looking like will make a huge difference in your success with eating at home.

But in order to make all of these amazing options for saving time in the kitchen work, you need to learn how to best use these appliances and cooking methods and which one makes the most sense for the different mealtime scenarios that come up in your schedule.

It really helps to practice with these appliances and cooking methods at a time when you aren’t in a rush so that you can figure out the individual quirks or steps for each one without a lot of pressure or stress to get it right the first time.  Don’t give up if you have a failure or two.  It could be that you’re just learning how to use the appliance, and with a little perseverance, you’ll come to find that it’s one of your absolute favorite kitchen tools!

A good recipe will go a long way to making you successful – and I’d like to think that the recipes we have here on the site are good ones that will make cooking a delicious meal for your family easy and enjoyable!

This post contains affiliate links. Your clicks and purchases help sustain this site at no extra cost to yourself! 

Tips for Using the Slow Cooker

You can make a ridiculous amount of good food in the slow cooker. Prep time is fast and there’s little to no standing in the kitchen monitoring the food as it cooks. That’s a huge plus if you have a lot of other things to do besides keep an eye on the stove!

One of the biggest issues you may run into with slow cookers is that they tend to cook too hot.  Most often, this is because you’re using one that is too big.  If the food doesn’t fill the crock at least half way, chances are it will cook hotter than it needs to, resulting in dry and over-cooked food. Some slow cookers are better than others at cooking consistently, too.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use the slow cooker:

Tips for using the Instant Pot or any electric Pressure Cooker

The digital, electric variety of pressure cookers are fairly new.  I have the six quart 6-in-1 version and I use mine all the time. It’s such a handy kitchen tool! They’re really easy to use, but there is a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never used a pressure cooker before.   Read through your manual very well and keep it handy so you can refer to it as needed as you set things up the first few times. I recommend trying to making something simple in the Instant Pot for the first time, like rice.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned from using my pressure cookers this past year.

  • The most important thing to remember when using the Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker is that you’ll need to add at least 1 1/2 cups of liquid to the pot to get it to come to pressure.  However, remember that the liquid doesn’t have to be water!  Things like broth, tomato sauce or juice, enchilada sauce and any other liquids work too. A good instant pot recipe will account for the need for liquid, but if you experiment with your own recipes, that’s something to keep in mind!
  • Also, remember that the amount of time you set the pot for is not the time that your dinner will be done.  You need to allow extra time for the pot to come to pressure before the cook time even starts. The amount of time needed for the pot to come to pressure and then the food to cook varies a lot. And it is usually still a lot faster than cooking on a stovetop or in the slow cooker so it’s a great option when you need to cut down cook time a bit.
  • Picking good recipes that are made for cooking in the instant pot is ideal for cooking a successful meal when you are starting out! Every week, we put instant pot as well as slow cooker instructions for many of our recipes in the Weekly Meal Plans. It’s been a hit with our members and I’ve enjoyed cooking these recipes as well!

Looking for a few recipes to try out? Here are a few of my favorites on the blog.

If you are considering buying a pressure cooker, but aren’t sure which to go for you can read my honest review of the two brands I bought in this post here.

Tips fop making fantastic Sheet Pan Dinners

A sheet pan isn’t exactly an appliance, but it is a really useful tool to have in the kitchen!  You can put nearly any type of meat and vegetable combination on a sheet pan and have a marvelous dinner with less time and mess than if you cook each item individually.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when making a sheet pan dinner.

  • The best thing is to use a very large sheet pan like this one. If you don’t have a large pan, you can use two regular sized sheet pans, but the large one is really nice and not expensive. If you have a bigger family, two large ones can really make it easier, too!
  • Timing is everything with sheet pan dinners.  Figure out which ingredient will need the longest cook time and place that in the oven first.  Then add the other ingredients later so they get the proper cook times as well.
  • Be sure to oil the pan or use parchment paper to keep clean up easy. After all, the whole point of saving time is to spend it with those around your table, not standing at the sink scrubbing off baked-on food!
  • These sheet pan dinner recipes are super popular at our house and with our readers! Try one out and see what you think! Once you see how easy they are, you’ll have inspiration for endless varieties of meals you can toss together on a sheet pan and get in the oven for easy family meals.
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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Plus what I’ve been reading and watching

Happy Memorial Day! Sending thanks to all the men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces.

1.  A bit of a cooking break

I’ve been trying to test at least five new recipes each week for the cookbook.  This week I didn’t meet my goal at all.  Maybe I just needed a little break from it, but for some reason the cooking – at least the recipe testing part – just didn’t happen this week.

2. Using and giving freezer meals

I had about 10 meals stashed away in the freezer and the next chapter of the cookbook I’m working on is a freezer meal chapter.  This may have been why I was having a hard time doing any new cooking.  This week I gave away a few of the meals from my freezer.  I also used a couple of them for our dinners.

These are so handy to have!  If you’d like to see a freezer cooking session in action, check out my recent Facebook Live video.

3.  Simplified Detox Salad

We love this salad!  It makes a ton and does take some chopping, but it is so good!  I decided to throw this together quickly to go with sandwiches one night for dinner.  I used just broccoli, cauliflower and dried cherries, plus the simple dressing ingredients.

It still made a very large salad, but it was a little quicker and just as delicious!

Reading and Watching

I finished reading At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider (affiliate link).

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s great if you like to travel or if you like reading about places in the world.  I loved that she didn’t sugar coat what traveling with kids is like, but she also made it seem doable and very worth it.

In the book she explores the connection between home and wanderlust.  We usually see these two things as opposites, but the relationship between them is more intricate and interesting than that.

We recently started watching The Durrells in Corfu on Amazon.  I’m really liking this show.  The scenery alone makes it worth the watch, but it will also make you want to book a trip to Greece!  The story lines are fun and light hearted.  The family isn’t without their issues, but it isn’t dark like so many shows can be.

What’s cooking in your kitchen and what have you been reading and watching?

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