I have a confession to make – I love my crock pots.
There’s nothing more relieving than throwing a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker, doing nothing to it for the next six or eight hours, and then getting a complete meal or side dish out of it. Perfect for the lazy or those who have more productive ways to spend their time.
Part of my NaNo prep this year was finding ways to spend that free time more wisely. Over the last year I discovered I didn’t set enough boundaries for my writing time. So I fixed that – made a schedule, ran it by the husband, and bam. Writing time protected whilst still making time for chores and snuggling furkids.
I would’ve cut workout days too but alas, I’m doing pretty well on all the weights and it gets me out of the house. Massive amounts of free time + me = more ways to procrastinate and make excuses. I apparently need some kind of pressure other than just a word count goal, and leaving the other parts of my routine in place helps that feeling of having to fight for writing time.
Thinking about exercise led me to food. Workout days felt especially tight and stressful having to cook something after getting back from the gym. Hour at the gym, hour for dinner, then cleaning up, showering… it cut into my writing time pretty regularly.
Crock pot meals became the perfect solution.
Honestly, crock pot dishes are great for any week that’s going to be hectic. I usually make a double batch of whatever recipe, ending up with ten to fifteen Tupperware containers worth of dinners for the rest of the week. Chili and pot roast are our go-to dishes. We’ve done pulled pork before too, but it takes a bit more manual labor than just portioning everything out to containers.
Of the three recipes I picked for NaNo this year, my favorite dish is one that will be on our menu probably every month. Behold- Honey Garlic Meatballs!
I kid you not, this is the best slow cooker recipe I’ve found to date, so I have to share. It knocks chili out of the water. Massacres pot roast and pulled pork. Makes potato soup look like thin and milky gruel. And no, that’s not because my recipes for those other dishes are bad – the meatballs are just so good.
They’re savory, a little sweet, and the garlic scent is mouthwatering. (If you don’t like garlic, I feel sorry for you.)
It’s pretty cheap to make, too, for as many meatballs as you get. You can get 32oz bags of frozen meatballs for $7.99/bg at Kroger. Many of the flavor additives are probably already in your cupboard. So let’s round up – for $20 you get a giant crock full of meatballs. Make a big batch of mashed potatoes (also an easy crock pot dish!) or rice to go with it, and you’ve got dinner (plus some lunches) that will likely last you a full week.
They’re great for work potlucks too, just sayin’.
So, for anyone in the final throes of NaNoWriMo fighting for ways to optimize your time – look into doing batch meals like this. Many of the recipes take 30 min or less to get going in the crock, and then you don’t have to worry about cooking for close to a week. Spending an hour for dinner per day may not sound like much, but when you consider that half of that time(maybe more) is often just cooking the meal, there’s a good chance stress will manifest just from other everyday things. Seeing how dirty the counters are, dishes piled in the sink, floors needing to be swept, TPS reports due… and feeling like it all falls on your shoulders alone. A crock pot meal won’t necessarily solve those other stressors, but it may keep them from being triggered in the first place.
What time saving practices did you put into action for NaNo? What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?