Posted by: Rachael | February 28, 2008

a week in the life of a crockpot

“Is a crockpot worth buying or is it another one of those things that takes up space and creates more clutter?”
I’ve been asked that more than once….indeed, before being given one, I asked the question myself.  Once we had one, I changed my question to “How much can we use this thing so that it’s not just another dusty appliance?”

Particularly when we have a new baby in the house or when we want to get out-n-about for a day, we find it to be absolutely invaluable.
We could even use it every single day……

Sunday night put some beans in the pot and cover them with water (whatever beans you like – in whatever quantity works for you – for the purposes of this post, let’s make them pinto beans…and for most of you, you’d be able to do a quantity great enough to eat half and freeze the other half for next week – meaning you only cook alternate weeks – how good is that?)

Monday morning
(Note: if you’re vegetarian you could replace meat with lentils, and beef stock with vege stock in the following recipes)

Drain water, put in fresh water and “casserole” ingredients – meat, onions, garlic, carrot, celery, tomatoes (maybe tinned), beef stock, potato, herbs and whatever other veges you might have in your garden – cauli, eggplant, silverbeet, peppers, broad beans, broccoli (or these can be added later in the day if you don’t forget – I go for slightly overcooked, but at least not forgotten) 

Just before dinner:
Throw a salad together and then serve with the casserole.

Tuesday morning
Brown mince and onions and garlic. Put all in the pot with tomatoes, beef stock and whatever seasonings you feel like for a spaghetti sauce (oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper and chilli perhaps)

Just before dinner:
Make a salad and cook spaghetti noodles
(Save half the sauce for tomorrow)

Wednesday morning
Put alternate layers of a variety of veges from the garden and leftover sauce from yesterday into the crockpot and cook on low all day.

Just before dinner:
Make another salad – make it different to the other ones;-)

After dinner:
Put black beans and water into the crockpot and soak overnight

Thursday morning
Put rice in a bowl and cover with water to soak for the day
Change the beans water and turn on to cook……don’t forget to add tomatoes, onion, chopped up salami (or just plain sausage), lots of chilli and garlic,
beef stock if you want

Before dinner:
Cook rice, shred lettuce, grate cheese, chop up some more onion if you like it raw and put sour cream in a nice little dish to serve with the bean bonanza

Friday morning
Pop a chook in the pot with whatever veges you want to cook with it

Just before dinner:
Make a salad (do you sense a pattern for remembering to eat fresh veges?) and serve with the chicken and vegetables

After dinner:
Put the carcass and all bones back in the pot. Add a few sticks of celery, a couple of onions, a couple of carrots, a handful of herbs, a splash of white vinegar, lots of cracked pepper and cover with water. Cook all night – you’ll have a delicious stock in the morning.

Saturday morning
If you had enough leftover chicken, you’ll be able to make a scrummy chicken laksa – but we hardly ever have leftovers so it ends up soup! I leave it cooking all day and a couple of hours before dinner fish out the bones/veges etc and add whatever is on hand – maybe sauteed mushrooms or noodles or onion and zuchinni, almost always coconut cream….. This is good, but chicken laksa is infinitely better.
Bake bread or toast any old leftover bread to dunk in the soup. (Of course you can make hummus to spread on your bread, but the simple version just dunks)

Sunday morning
Put alternate layers of kumara, tomato puree, fresh veges from your garden, cheese, and leftover soup if you didn’t finish it in your pot and cook all day.

I make a point of having on hand all the ingredients to do this meal plan at all times. Then if we have some unexpected dramas, I can at least feed the family very healthily without giving it too much thought and we don’t need to run out for takeaways, which invariably make you feel grotty.

The items highlighted in pink above are the only things that are not a *basic unprocessed* ingredient. You could buy them from the supermarket….or you could make them yourself very easily.
You could even make a huge batch of each once every few months, taking no more time than it would take you to go to the supermarket! Pop it in the freezer and call it “almost takeaways”.

If you want some scrummy hummus, you really don’t need to pay two dollars something for a teeny-tiny little pottle. It really isn’t tricky to make. You could even cook your chickpeas in your crockpot!

As for bread baking, I’ll get to that in another post.

Now on to spaghetti noodles. The easy-peasy recipe is here.


Beef Stock is the last thing you’d need on hand for these recipes (or you can just leave it out, but it really does taste good and is so nutritious). You’ll find the recipe I use base mine on here.


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