7 EASY HEALTHY SLOW COOKER COMFORT MEALS
I hate cooking. I suck at it. I hate fast food even more. I love my slow cooker though. And since I can’t cook worth a damn, I’m using my slow cooker all the time to make easy healthy slow cooker comfort meals for my family.
I have several staple slow cooker comfort meals I like to make throughout the year but especially during the colder months.
I like these because I grew up eating them. But also because they are make at home hot, healthy, easy meals that can be made in big batches to be frozen for later or can make multiple meals from.
Easy being the key word. I want healthy meals for my family but I also need them to be easy. Remember, I suck at cooking. Totally do not enjoy it. So if the recipe is difficult in the slightest, I’m out.
I’ve always had simple ways to make these meals. Nothing real specific or fancy. I picked up the newer cookbook, Fast and Slow, from skinnytaste.com and found some recipes to try and spruce up my basics. I get tripped up with spices and sauces. Actually, I found a lot of recipes that look easy and worth trying.
I like Gina at skinnytaste because she has an everything in moderation approach to eating and nutrition. She also believes that a balanced life of exercise, rest and portion controlled homemade meals creates a happy life. I couldn’t agree more.
With a little help and some staple slow cooker comfort meals, I’m striving for the happy life, too.
7 Easy Healthy Slow Cooker Comfort Meals
I love chili in the winter. It’s a great way to pile on the protein with the different beans and meat. I’ll even top it with a little shredded cheese and plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
It’s so easy too because you basically dump all the ingredients (browned ground beef, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans and seasonings) into the slow cooker and you’re done.
Here’s a great recipe from skinnytaste for a slow cooker Chicken Taco Chili http://www.skinnytaste.com/crock-pot-chicken-taco-chili-4-pts/
- SCALLOPED POTATOES AND HAM
My family has always been the meat and potatoes kind. I’m not a huge fan of red meat but I do love ham. It might just be my favorite meat. It’s probably all the salt but I’ll take it over pork, beef and steak any day.
Scalloped potatoes and ham is low prep and one your littles can help with. One of my girls loves to hand me the potatoes to peel and toss them into the slow cooker.
I usually buy a huge ham and slice it up to freeze for later meals. Then I can just pull out what I need, cube it up and toss in the cooker. I haven’t ventured out into making my own sauce so I still use a can of cream of mushroom or celery soup and milk. I’ll also chop up some celery to sneak in a little more veggies to the entire meal.
This is easy and basic. You can fill up your slow cooker and freeze some for another night. Here’s another skinnytaste recipe you can try out. Scalloped Potato Gratin – http://www.skinnytaste.com/skinny-scalloped-potato-gratin/
- WHOLE CHICKEN
My family was recently discussing the whole chicken. The debate was over a store bought rotisserie chicken versus making a whole chicken yourself. If I’m at the store and the rotisserie chicken is available (and I know it’s a healthy chicken), I will snatch it up for dinner that night. You can’t beat the convenience of that. Plus, it’s way healthier than most fast food/take out meals.
The great thing about making a whole chicken is that usually there are leftovers. So you have dinner and lunch already made. Or half the prep work is done for another dinner.
I’ve tossed a whole chicken with carrots and potatoes in the slow cooker and then used leftovers to make enchiladas or soup. The two meals are different enough that having chicken two nights in a row won’t matter.
Check out the skinnytaste recipe for chicken enchiladas – http://www.skinnytaste.com/chicken-enchiladas/
- CHICKEN SOUP
Chicken soup is a must in the winter. It’s a classic that will never die. What do you eat when you’re sick – chicken soup. It’s the dish of the soul, right? Plus, you can use the leftover chicken from that whole chicken you just made.
Chicken soup is so versatile that it never gets old. Have it with noodles, rice, barley, a whole host of filler options in addition to all the veggies you can throw in. You’ve got carrots as the staple but add corn, green beans, peas. There’s so much you can do with it.
Soup is easy to make a huge pot of and freeze multiple portions for future dinners.
It wasn’t too long ago that I started loving barley in my chicken soup. So you should try this chicken barley soup from skinnytaste – http://www.skinnytaste.com/chicken-barley-soup/
Minestrone is my favorite soup. It’s full of all those good veggies with a nice tomato base. Throw in some beans for protein and noodles for comfort. Noodles always makes me think of comfort food. Probably because mac & cheese seems like the ultimate comfort food.
My minestrone is always a throw it in the pot recipe. I have staple veggies I add like zucchini, green beans, carrots, peas. And of course, dices tomatoes. But depending on what I have, I’ll add spinach, broccoli and maybe eggplant, too. I guess mine is more a vegetable soup.
For a more traditional minestrone, here is the one from the skinnytaste site. I like that she purees the beans to make the soup thicker. http://www.skinnytaste.com/crock-pot-minestrone-soup/
Here’s a recipe I thought looked good and marked to try. Pasta Fagioli http://www.skinnytaste.com/pasta-fagioli-64-pts/
I do love a good pot roast with dumplings and carrots. Unfortunately, I’m not good at making dumplings so I’ll save those for my birthday dinner at my parent’s. But a pot roast is pretty easy to throw in the slow cooker with cut up carrots and potatoes.
There are plenty of ways to flavor your roast. I’d always throw in a can of cream of something soup or even pick up packaged roast sauces. However, I want to get away from these prepackaged sauces and that’s why I picked up some cookbooks including the skinnytaste Fast and Slow.
This recipe for a crock pot balsamic pork roast looks good and seems to be popular. http://www.skinnytaste.com/crock-pot-balsamic-pork-roast/.
- BEEF STEW
I remember having beef stew while camping. Of course, it was from a can. But I think that’s what you’re supposed to do while camping, right? You are roughing it in the wilderness.
Beef stew is one of those that can also be modified. I’d typically have the meat, potatoes and carrots. I did mention the meat and potatoes family thing. I’ve branched out though and added peas and/or green beans.
But it’s another one where you really only need to peel and cut potatoes and carrots, add any other veggie, and throw in the prepared beef chunks. The only hard part is adding whatever kind of sauce you like.
Skinnytaste to the rescue again. Why recreate the wheel? This beef stew recipe calls for squash. http://www.skinnytaste.com/slow-cooker-beef-and-kabocha-squash-stew/. The cookbook included a recipe for venison stew. I marked that one, too, because we often have deer meat from my husband’s hunts.
I hope these seven slow cooker comfort meal ideas help make your weekday dinner planning a little bit easier. Don’t forget to save the skinnytaste recipes in your Plan to Eat Meal Planner for future reference/planning. For additional help with recipes, check out the skinnytaste cookbook, Fast and Slow. It’s packed with a lot of great recipes perfect for a busy family.
TRACK YOUR NUTRITION INTAKE!
Are you keeping a food and fitness journal? Research shows that by keeping a food and fitness journal, writing down your workouts and what you eat, you lose more weight and reach your goals quicker. Fitbook is an awesome journal that provides tips, motivation and plenty of space to reflect and document things that inspire you. I use this to help plan my workouts and my meals. I love the extra tips it offers. Oftentimes, I’m left thinking – That’s a good one. I’ll have to try that. There are actually a few journal options to choose from.
DO YOU USE A SLOW COOKER? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT MEAL?
As always, please remember that I am not a medical professional, personal trainer or certified instructor… I’m just a hard hitting girl who wants to be healthy and strong! Before you begin any fitness or nutrition program, please consult your physician!
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