Photo of crockpots.
Crock pot meals are both cheep and delicious. CC by EXKARRAVELHO/Flickr

Cutting the cost on weekday meals can feel tough. A crock pot can be a great solution. A crock pot itself costs less than a meal out for two. Ingredients for a week’s worth of meals can be had for just another few dollars. A hot meal doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Instead, take just 20 minutes and let the crock pot do the work.

The best crock pot meal available to you

Crock pots are small braising ovens that sit on the counter. Low heat and moisture is used when braising something. Recipes that turn out best when cooked for a long time over low heat are ideal. Root vegetables, tough meats, legumes, hard grains and even fruits can have their best characteristics brought out by this cooking method. Things like cheddar cheese, plain milk and vegetables that get mushy are not suggested. If you’d put it in the oven, it’s a great candidate for the best meals from a crock pot.

How to make a great crock pot meal with vegetables

Crock pots are really great for vegetarians, anyone eating gluten-free or even just someone dieting. Layer things in the crock pot. It is a great way to start. Layers of sliced Yukon Gold or russet potatoes are good crock pot fillers. Put some parsnips or broccoli on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, oregano, basil or chopped spinach on top of every layer. A few pats of butter might be helpful. After the layers fill the crock pot at least halfway, two cups chicken broth or 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of broth can be added in. Cook it for at least 4 hours on high. You can also set it on low for 8 to 10 hours instead. Another option is to do a four-bean chili as crock pots do really well with beans. Just throw in some spices with ½ cup of white, black, pinto and kidney beans and some onion, chopped tomato and garlic. You don’t need to boil the beans first; all you really need to do is make sure it cooks at least 15 hours.

The best meat meals from crock pot cooks

When cooking in the crock pot, try some tough meats. Try cooking pork butt, pot roast or stew beef, with enough broth to cover the meat, in the crock pot for up to 10 hours.

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