My love affair with my Crock Pot

Growing up I always hated leftovers. Now I love them. Leftovers make the perfect lunches, especially when you plan ahead. My husband and I have several Crock Pot recipes that we love, but they make more than 2 servings. Instead of packing leftovers into one large container, like I used to do, I now pack them into many single serving containers.   When I need to pack my lunch in the morning, it’s very easy to pull a container out of the refrigerator and throw it into my lunch bag with an ice pack. For chili or soup, I often put some of these single serve containers into the freezer if I don’t think we’ll eat them all within one week.

 Leftover chili packed and ready for lunches.

Bringing a lunch is a great way to save money on food. Unless I’m going out with friends (which I do a couple times a month), it’s better to just bring a lunch and heat it up at work. As an introvert I like some quiet time in the middle of the day, so I enjoy reading and eating alone in the cafeteria. A huge part of my job is meeting and talking with other people, so lunch is often my time to recharge.

Here are some of our favorite simple Crock Pot recipes.

Chili (inspired by the Pillsbury: One-Dish Meals Cookbook that I bought Jim in 2005)

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound stew beef
green pepper
diced tomatoes (28 oz)
tomato soup (I use Campbell’s Tomato Bisque because it has less sugar.)
tomato sauce (16 oz)
kidney beans (15 oz)
northern beans (15 oz)
taco seasoning – one packet (mild or hot) -OR- 4 tsp of this taco seasoning recipe (which I started using because it is low carb)

1. Dice the onion and green pepper – about 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Brown the ground beef with the onion and green pepper.
3. Brown the stew beef.
4. Combine everything in the Crock Pot.

5. Cook on low for 8 hours

Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Apples (inspired by this recipe)

6 pork chops
1 onion
2 apples
1.5 cups of water with 4 chicken bouillon cubes
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 sweet potatoes

1. Boil the water and bouillon cubes.
2. Dice onion and put in the bottom of the Crock Pot,
3. Lay pork chops on top of onion in one layer.
4. Peel, core, and slice apples over pork chops.
5. Pour chicken broth over pork/apples/onion.
6. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over apples.
7. Cook on low for 4 1/2 hours.
8. Peel and dice sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
9. Put sweet potatoes in the Crock Pot on top of everything else.
10. Cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

Spicy Sausage Soup (also inspired by that same Pillsbury cookbook)

1 lb. Italian sausage (we use 1/2 mild and 1/2 hot – freeze the rest for another time)
1 c. peeled and sliced carrots
1 c. sliced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups of water with 2 beef bouillon cubes
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 ½ c. water
½ tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 c. diced zucchini
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Boil the water and bouillon cubes.
2. Brown sausage in large skillet.  Drain.
3. Combine beef broth, cooked sausage, and all remaining ingredients in Crock Pot, except zucchini and cheese.
4. Stir to mix.
5. Cover, cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.
6. Remove and discard bay leaf.
7. Gently stir in zucchini.
8. Cover, cook on low for 30 minutes.
9. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with cheese.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork

Check out this recipe.

This method of storing leftovers works well for oven baked meals as well, such as this Very Old Meatloaf recipe (Love!) and the salmon & asparagus recipes I wrote about earlier this month.

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