Nutrition Articles

Slow and Easy Crockpot Cooking

You DO Have Time for Home Cooked Meals

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How often do you find yourself starving when you get home at night? And how often, as a result, do you grab anything and everything in sight? Why does it seem like we can stay true to our diets so well during the day only to derail when we get home?

A delicious and healthy ready-to-eat meal awaiting your arrival can help you stay on track (and NOT eat that box of crackers for dinner).

Cooking in the Crockpot (or the slow cooker) can be easy, fun and healthy. These handy kitchen appliances allow you to prepare food ahead of time and cook it without any attention. Instead of worrying all day about what to make for dinner, you know a hot meal will be ready when you get home. It's also perfect for batch cooking a healthy meal that will last 4-5 days.

A Crockpot can be a great help in preparing wholesome, nutritious meals that are veggie-rich, packed with complex carbs, and low in fat and calories. Long cooking on low heat tenderizes meat, so it is an excellent way to cook those cuts of meat that have less fat, are less tender, but are also less expensive.

Adapting Recipes
  • Brown and drain the fat from high-fat meats (like ground beef), before adding it to the Crockpot. Leaner meats such as stew beef, poultry, or pork chops do not have to be cooked beforehand.
  • Whole herbs and spices work better than crushed. If using crushed herbs, do not add them until closer to the end of the cooking time.
  • Always fill the Crockpot at least half full.
  • Reduce the liquid in your recipe to about one cup or less. The slow cooking method saves all the food's natural juices and the juices do not cook off.
  • Use canned soups, broths, wine, vegetable juice or water as the liquid in your Crockpot.
  • Add dairy products only during the final 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Vegetables take longer to cook than most meat, so put them on the bottom.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • RDDY4CHANGE2
    I am always lifted the lid! Peeking in the oven, dishwasher...wash
    ing machine. My husbands will tell me that I just cut the efficiency by "whatever" percent...I might leave the lid on now! 30 minutes per time the lid it taken off! Yikes. - 2/25/2014 12:50:44 PM
  • I love cooking in my slow cooker. Thanks - 1/3/2014 2:51:01 AM
  • Awesome tips! - 10/24/2013 12:39:44 AM
  • I love my slow cooker! I don't know why I didn't get one much sooner. - 9/24/2013 7:38:40 AM
  • My favorite crockpot recipe is dumping some frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts and jarred pasta sauce to cover, then leave it on low all day. Once you come home, you can have it over pasta, quinoa, or even veggies. - 7/9/2013 4:49:10 AM
  • FRACKIAM1:

    I'm not sure about beef, but I cook frozen chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) all the time, and end up with very versatile cooked chicken -- cubed for casseroles, shredded for quesadillas, tacos, and such, or tender pieces to use as the main protein. I usually add enough water or chicken broth to cover, and add herbs, spices, or even salsa as desired. I usually cook a good 8-10 hours or overnight, so it's always cooked through just fine. Cook enough ahead of time, and you have plenty to make a variety of dishes! - 7/21/2012 5:43:31 PM
  • Ocliao
    It depends on how many people your trying to feed, I use my 2 qt a lot, but on campouts and pot lucks I may use 1 or 2 5 to 8 qt depending on what I am going to do for my part, and how many there are of us.
    - 7/21/2012 5:20:34 PM
  • I'm single and use mine for stews, a simple one is 1 med can of stew, 1 can mixed veggies, drained, 1 can diced tomatoes, drained, set on low, about 1/2 to 1 hr ahead of dinner add 1 c of rice, or pasta, or 1 small tube of refig bisquits, the little ones make good dumplings, and what you don't use can be "baked" in a small cast iron skillet on stove top.

    I do this a lot, all day on low when working, 1 hr hi, then low for 1/2 day when home, using a 2 qt pot.
    enough food for 3 med or 2 large meals.
    - 7/21/2012 5:16:04 PM
  • I have a crock pot and use it at least once a week and love it. BUT I have a question. Can you put frozen meat in it and let it cook all day? If anyone has or has not done this I would like to know. - 7/21/2012 4:55:40 PM
  • I love using my crock pot, although I use it more in the winter. - 7/21/2012 12:03:32 PM
  • From someone who REALLY uses a crockpot, frozen veggies work just fine! Do you think a package of frozen broccoli won't cook in 6 hours in a crockpot? LOL. I also put meat and chicken in my crockpot right out of the fridge. No problem. - 7/21/2012 7:16:14 AM
  • Thank you for all these tips.!! - 7/21/2012 3:35:09 AM
  • what size crockpot is the best? - 7/4/2012 10:26:50 AM
  • 1954MARG
    Crock pots are great for batch cooking if you have a weekend off cook something each night and each day over the weekend and you get out of cooking for 2-3 weeks. - 6/7/2012 4:07:22 PM
  • I thought you were supposed to have your meat the same temp as the crock pot... example if your crock pot is cold, your meat should not be hot.

    I haven't made much in my crock pot except pot roast. I do need to utilize it more though. THe awesome thing about mine is it has a timer, so you set it to high/low and program the hours for it to cook, then after that it goes to keep warm. It's so awesome. - 5/23/2012 4:21:00 PM

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