menu monday: the crockpot

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 12.54.33 PMThis week’s menu is pretty simple. I have been out of town most of the weekend and it’s going to be a busy week plus we have guests arriving on Friday(!). I decided simple and easy was the only way to be successful. The paleo Pad Thai from Well Fed is one of my favorite recipes and this week I’m using a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods to make it even easier. For the rest of the week it’s basically going to be reheating meatballs with salad or zucchini noodles and marinara sauce. (Other recipes are cookbook-only.)

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So let’s talk about the crockpot. My love for the crockpot started long before I turned my focus to eating a cleaner more nutritionally based diet, but I definitely find myself using it even more now. It’s probably on our kitchen counter more often than not, usually with a batch of bone broth bubbling away. I average maybe one actual meal a week in the crockpot. For those of us that work 8+ hours outside the house every weekday, having the ability to cook dinner while you’re miles away from home is a huge win for eating real food and not calling for take out.

While I love my crockpot and rank it in my top 3 kitchen appliance must haves (along with my food processor and immersion blender), it’s not without its faults. Usually when a crockpot recipe goes bad I end up wasting a lot of food. Thankfully that doesn’t happen often, but it does from time to time. Just last week I came home to a less than appetizing smell. Greg wanted to go out to dinner and when I popped the lid to check on my ham hock and collards soup, I quickly agreed. The ham tasted okay, but it smelled and looked terrible. We both had very long days and the thought of eating a bowl of mush for dinner just wasn’t cutting it. And fair warning, a crockpot-gone-wrong smell takes a while to leave your home.

I use my crockpot in three ways for the most part: bone broth, one pot meals likes stew/soup/chili, cuts of meat that needs to be slowly cooked for optimal taste and texture. I love coming home from work to a cooked meal. For crockpot meals I make during the week I do the prep the night before. I set my crockpot on the counter mostly as a reminder in the morning that I need to turn it on. I prep the meal based on the recipe and put everything in the ceramic part of the crock pot. Is that the crock or the pot? I put the lid on and throw it in the fridge. So far my track record for remembering to take it out of the fridge, drop it in the outer, metal part, and plug in is 100%. If you think you might forget, set your keys on the lid in the fridge, an old trick my dad used to do with his lunch.

Because crockpot meals are my easy go-to meals during the week, I tend to make the same ones over and over. Here are my favorites, the ones I’ve made multiple times that always turn out delicious.

Bone Broth

Balanced Bites
Nom Nom Paleo

One Pot Meals (a few do require additional pots for prep)

Sweet Potato Chili with Beef
Thai Yellow Curry with Beef

Mostly Meat

Kalua Pork (turn into lettuce tacos, eat with eggs for breakfast, eat straight out of the crockpot)
Italian Pork Roast (pair it with any veggies for an easy meal)
Chicken Verde (usually turn these into lettuce tacos or add to a salad)

Also check out this list that Holly put together – I usually browse it when I need new inspiration.

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