The beauty of bulk
Bulk cooking (also known as batch processing or food prep) is the secret for almost all people I know who eat well and have mostly homemade food. When I hear “I’m too busy to cook” – it’s usually the truth. Most people don’t have time to shop, prep, and cook all their meals fresh daily with the hour+ that entails. But even though food doesn’t have to be your first priority every day, by making it a top priority on one day a week, you can stock and prepare enough food to get you through most meals.
For example, by cooking a batch of oatmeal on the weekend, and stocking up on berries and nuts, you can have breakfast ready every day in under 5 minutes. Spending some time to buy salad supplies and pre-packing containers (dressing on the side, of course – no soggy salads here!) could be lunch. My friend and fellow dietitian Amaris is the prep-ahead lunch salad queen, and makes a new round every week:
But when you want something savory, warm, and hearty, there’s no second to the slow cooker. This set-it-and-forget-it miracle of modern life is one of the most important (and yet often least expensive) appliances you can have in your kitchen, and it makes both bulk prep and weekday prep a breeze. Load it up, turn it on and in 5-7 hours you can fully cook a tender roast, a flavor-rich stew, or even a baked pasta dish.
To chili and beyond
Most people think of chili or other stews when they think about what they could make in a crock pot. But it can do so much more! Bone broth (or veggie broth) – sure! Lasagna? Done! Fajitas sans frying pan – so easy! Fresh bread, crunchy granola, and even snack mix? Absolutely. Your slow cooker should be in rotation to make something at least once a week.
Need more inspiration?
If you’re still not convinced that you need to get some slow cooking action into your routine, here are the some inspirational roundups to get your mouth watering and your menu plan rolling:
Get saucy for summer
A sauce can make or break your dish – where else can you pack so much flavor into so little volume? Nutritionally, sauces can also add a lot (of calories!) or just the right balance of savory, sweet, and salty for the perfect smear. Burgers, veggies, hot dogs, wings, fries, sandwiches…all are elevated by a great sauce or drizzle! Here’s a roundup of some amazing dietitian-approved homemade sauces that are based on whole foods and condiments you might already have in the fridge – most are vegan, all use real ingredients and cover all the bases: BBQ, mustard-y, herbacious and Asian-inspired. They’re rounded out by the delicious chipotle dressing I made for this sweet potato noodle salad last week, thanks to the inspiration from Pinch of Yum (scroll to the bottom for my adapted recipe for the sauce!).
Click the pics for the recipes!
Allergy-Friendly Barbeque Sauce
Spicy Habanero Avocado Cream Sauce
Sesame Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
Easy Peach Hot Sauce
Chipotle Tahini Schmear
Nothing better than a spicy/smokey flavor combo for the summer – make and keep this in the fridge for up to 3-4 weeks and enjoy as a dip, spread, or dressing! Click here for the original recipe, and how to make sweet potato noodles!
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp smoked chipotle seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried minced onions
- 1 tsp agave or honey
- 3 Tbsp tahini
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- dash of salt
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth and creamy. Add more water to thin if making a dressing or leave it thick to put on sandwiches or burgers!