by Sylvia Geiger MS, RD, CD, Price Chopper Community Nutritionist
Crock pots are usually associated with hearty soups and stews that keep you warm and satisfied during the frigid winter months. Come springtime – when lighter, fresher meals are more appealing – we tend to eat salads instead of soups and stews.
Don’t be too eager to relegate your crock pot to the cupboard just because the weather is changing – it can still be the workhorse behind a delicious and light family meal.
As the days get longer, time always seems to get shorter because of the increase in kids’ sports and activities. Similarly, dinnertime always rolls around faster than expected.
To avoid the dinner crunch, I started relying on my crock pot to make a few staples that I could keep in my refrigerator at all times. This strategy lets me quickly pull together a healthy family meal or have one ready to serve after a long afternoon standing on the sidelines watching the kids. Here are a few crock pot tips:
- Make a pot of beans to use throughout the week. Beans are the busy mom’s (or dad’s) secret weapon — they’re easy to prepare and very healthy. They’re also filling, inexpensive and jam packed with nutrients including lean protein, fiber, folate, and iron. You can use beans as a side dish or in tacos, quesadillas and salads. Check out our recipe for Slow Cooked Beans in Your Crock Pot.
- Make a dish that works for several meals. My family enjoys this Barbecue Pulled Chicken recipe. Serve it on whole wheat bun and with salad and you’ve got dinner taken care of! Plus, check out the Dole Salad Blends on sale this week! Also, leftover BBQ chicken on top of cooked beans is great as a take-it-to work lunch or even dinner the next night.
- Another family favorite that light and easy is Squash, Chickpea & Red Lentil Stew. Serve it with a salad and some fresh Crusty Bread from our Price Chopper bakery and “dinner is served.”
- This slow cooker Fresh Veggie Lasagna is nice to come home to after a long T-ball or lacrosse practice.
Here’s the Healthy Meal of the Week! All main ingredients are on sale and NuVal scores are in parentheses.
- Pan-Roasted Chicken & Gravy (39) or Hearty Glazed Sirloin Tip Roast( 28)
- Florida Sweet Corn on the Cob (91) or Baked Potato (92)
- Salad made with Dole Salad Blends (100) or Romaine Hearts (100)
- Fresh cut fruit assortment: Golden Delicious Apple (96) Bartlett Pears (96) , California Navel Oranges (100)
We’d love to hear how you use your crock pot! Share your thoughts in the comments.