NDSU Extension - Benson County

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Slow Cookers are perfect for the School Year

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

As the school year begins, planning a nutritious meal for your family seems next to impossible.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by a lack of time, and a fear of consuming too many frozen pizzas, you may be in luck.

Making meals in your slow-cooker or making freezer meals are the perfect solution for a busy time of year.  Slow cooker meals can take anywhere from 3-8 hours (be sure to read the recipe carefully) and can oftentimes be started before you leave for work, and enjoyed whenever your family is able to eat supper.  It is also a great way to keep food warm if your family is on different schedules during this busy time of year. 

As the weather begins to cool, soup and stews are also a great option for slow cookers.  You can simply put your favorite ingredients in the slow cooker, plug it in, and hours later, you will have a delicious, home cooked meal.  Be sure to pay attention to how long the recipe takes, if the recipe calls for raw or cooked ingredients, and what setting it recommends you use.  This will all factor in to how it will take until your family has a wonderful slow cooked meal. 

Another option that is becoming increasingly popular is freezer meals.  This is basically making large portions of a meal, putting all of the ingredients in a bag, or fully assembling it, and then pulling it out of the freezer whenever it is convenient.  This works well with lasagna, chili, soups, and a wide variety of other meals.  Remember to use freezer bags or containers to ensure your food is high quality when you want to pull it out of the freezer.

Here is a recipe for slow-cook barbecue, a perfect meal for any family.  Enjoy!

Slow-Cook Barbecue

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chuck steak (boneless, 1 1/2 inches thick)
  •  1  garlic clove (peeled and minced)
  •  1/4 cup wine vinegar
  •  1 tablespoon brown sugar
  •  2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  •  1/2 cup ketchup
  •  1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  •  1 teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
  •  1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

First, cut the beef on a diagonal, across the grain into slices 1 inch wide and place in a slow cooker.  Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the meat.  Mix the meat and sauce together.

4. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 5 hours.

5. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with a mixed green salad.

 

Makes: 5 servings.  Each serving contains 340 calories, 18 grams of fat, 400 mg of sodium, 13 carbohydrates, and 29 grams of protein. 

 

Sources:  

  • University of Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service, Putting Your Crock Pot to Work
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