Easy family meals: slow cooking in the summer

July 17, 2014


Yes, you read that right!  While most people think of cool fall days and freezing winter nights to use their slow cooker, I see it as a home cooked meal any day of the year.  With both kids at home and leading a somewhat lazy lifestyle until this past year, I didn’t use my slow cooker  all that often.  But when my daughter started school, plus two after school activities, and my son had a busy therapy schedule, this past year I used it quite often.  As the days got longer, and the temperature started rising, we spent more time at the park.  We would come home, hot, tired, and starving!  At best I could whip something up in a half hour, or, more often than I would like to admit, open up the seamless app and have dinner in an hour, often longer.  There had to be something better!  

A couple of weeks ago I said, why don’t I just use my slow cooker?  Sure it is warm out, but just like in the fall or winter, I want a home cooked meal ready and waiting for us.  The next day I threw in some chicken and some carrots and let me tell you, coming home from the park at 5pm with my kids who were already complaining about their hunger, and walking into a house that smelled delicious, was heaven.  Within 5 minutes I had set their plates in front of them and they dug in.  

Sure, a lot of slow cooker meals are heavy, comfort food.  But, it is possible to have some lighter meals as well - here are my summer go-to slow cooker ideas:

- chicken

whole chicken, thighs, legs, whatever you like - add some onions and garlic and prepare a cold salad to put in the fridge and you are set.  For an even easier meal, pick up some deli salads to have on hand.  Make a ton so you can have leftovers for chicken salad, or even just plain old cold chicken for tomorrow’sdinner!

- pulled pork

I love BBQ!  And so do my kids.  I get the little slider buns and ta-da - easy picnic feel to dinner.  I like to add a crispy cole slaw, but the kids are happy with just the sliders.  Who am I to argue?  Super easy.

- chili

Chili reminds me of football season… a huge bowl with all sorts of toppings - mmmm!!  But, to make it more summer friendly, I serve it nacho style - throw some chips on a cookie sheet, pour on some chili, sprinkle some cheese to melt, and then add whatever cold toppings you like - peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc, etc.  The kids love to scoop up the meat with a chip.  Fun eating!  

- meat sauce

I know many don’t think of pasta as a summer dish, but my husband and kids would eat it every day if they could.  You can’t go wrong!

Here are some great slow cooking in the summer inspiration via Poofy Cheeks

Posted by Erica

Photo : Crockpot avail at Target

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