Whether you call it a slow cooker or a crockpot, this mighty electronic is one of the best inventions for the busy cook. My trusty little slow cooker is from the 1970s, made in an off-yellow color with flower patterns around it. Picked it up at Goodwill, folks. The fact that it looked like the one all my aunts in Wisconsin owned made me positive that it would outlast anything else. And I know the age of it because I saw an exact replica at the American History Museum, where they had it on exhibit in their “Food: Transforming the American Table” display. It’s a keeper.
I wanted to offer some options for healthy slow cooker meals, including some kid-friendly recipes. ‘Healthy’ meaning that there are no blocks of cream cheese or condensed soups involved, and the recipes use simple ingredients. Also, if you haven’t heard of slow cooker liners, please check them out. Major time saver right there – no more scrubbing the crockpot! Which means you’ll want to make even more meals in it.
Let’s start with the classic slow cooker recipes: soups and stews.
Creamy butternut squash soup or tomato soup are some easy vegetarian-friendly recipes. They can be eaten for lunch throughout the week or frozen for a later time. The kids might like these soups even more paired with a grilled cheese.
Of course, you can make a hearty helping of classic beef stew in the slow cooker, or this amazingly flavorful vegetable stew that I’ve cooked several times. Chicken noodle soup is also a crowd favorite, and you can make a large amount to freeze in individual portions for those days when you’re feeling under the weather.
I haven’t forgotten chili – but I usually make chili on the stovetop. If you have a slow cooker recommendation let us know in the comments!
Time to go beyond soup with a recipe for lamb ragu. I’ve made this before and it’s rich, filling, and perfect for dinner parties. I also love the idea of squash with whole grains or risotto in the slow cooker.
Save a ton of steps and simply make stuffed peppers in the slow cooker. You can add cooked ground turkey to the recipe if you prefer, but the recipe doesn’t necessarily need meat because of the beans.
And for the kiddos, I’m pretty sure they’ll be crazy about this lightened-up pizza casserole.
And then there’s all the great chicken recipes you can make in the slow cooker. I have to include garlic chicken, because garlic. Throw in as many cloves as you want.
Or you can cook an entire chicken dinner in your slow cooker, if it’s large enough. Potatoes and carrots and beans, oh my.
I’m definitely going to try this crockpot quinoa chicken primavera. Counting down the days until spring and all those green vegetables.
There are all sorts of ways to make a large batch of shredded chicken in the slow cooker, which you can then build a dinner off of. Chicken carnitas need one extra step of crisping in the oven (with the option of pork carnitas if you prefer). Or opt for the simpler 2-ingredient salsa chicken for tacos and burrito bowls.
It’s easy to try out different ethnic cuisines in the slow cooker as well. Here is a simple take on butter chicken, or Thai peanut chicken also sounds delicious. Tagine can be made in the slow cooker, and is good with lamb, chicken, or beef. I started to love tagine after my mother-in-law introduced me to the tremendous flavor it has, plus it makes an entire manageable meal with protein and vegetables together.
Do you have any healthy slow cooker recipes to share? I’m always on the lookout for more; leave them in the comments!