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Slow Cooker Meals: Mix It, Set It, and Forget It

It’s that time of the year when days are shorter, nights are longer, and temperature are starting to drop. It’s also one of the busiest times of the year which means we are more likely to grab fast food instead of preparing meals at home.  If you are short on time and find it hard to get dinner on the table, think slow cooker.  Slow cookers are a great way to  prepare a quick, convenient, and nutritious meal that is sure to please the entire family.

Slow Cooker Benefits
  • Minimizes time spent in the kitchen and requires less clean-up.
  • Uses less energy than an oven.
  •  Can tenderize less expensive cuts of meat because of the long cooking time.
  • Can be used to make soups, stews, and casseroles.
  • Helps bring out the flavor in foods. Buy vegetables that are in season for the best flavor at a lower cost.
  • Decreases the temptation to buy fast food which can be costly and less nutritious.
Slow Cooker Tips
  • Cut meat into smaller pieces before adding to slow cooker.
  • Do not underfill or overfill slow cooker.  It should generally be no less than half full and no more than two-thirds full.
  • Using a 5-7 quart-size slow cooker is best when serving 5 or more people.
  • Avoid removing slow cooker lid. This slows cooking time and approximately 15-20 minutes of cooking time is lost. Only remove lid to stir or check to see if dish is done.
  • Do not reheat leftovers in a slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Recipe

Taco Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean or extra-lean ground beef (browned and drained)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16-oz.) can low sodium chili beans, with liquid
  • 1 (15-oz.) can low sodium kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1 (8-oz.) can low sodium tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans peeled and diced low sodium tomatoes
  • 1 (4-oz.) can diced green chili peppers
  • 1 (15-oz.) can whole-kernel corn, with liquid
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning mix (low sodium)
  • 2 c. water

Directions

Place the ground beef, onion, chili beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, green chili peppers, corn, taco seasoning mix, and water, in a slow cooker. Mix to blend and cook on low setting for eight hours.

Resources:

https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/now-serving-slow-cooker-meals/fn1511.pdf

https://extension.psu.edu/the-benefits-of-slow-cooker-meals#:~:text=As%20a%20result%20of%20the,less%20electricity%20than%20an%20oven

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