Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mom: Crock Pot Survival

Right now, our nearly 16 month old is making life hectic.  If she's awake, she's moving.  And now she is climbing on everything, which is fine, but she also stands in the chair. She understands "sit on your bottom," smiles when you give her the first warning and start walking over to her, smiles and sits down as soon as you reach her to move her off the chair, and then stands back up when you walk away.  It's a special age.

No, it really is a special age.  She is saying new words, full-on phrases, she wants to help us around the  house because she likes feeling like a big girl, and she is busy.  Needless to say, when she and I get home around 4:45 p.m. after I have worked all day, I am pretty beat running around after her and don't feel like cooking.

Now, I love good, home-cooked meals.  When I was growing up, my mom cooked supper and we sat down to a family meal at the kitchen table basically every night.  Even when we got older (middle school and high school) and we had afternoon activities, my family still sat down and ate supper together. Before Susan was born, I made dinner for Chris and me, and  sometimes we cooked together (he did it by himself the entire summer I studied for the bar) We are not big fast food people.  In fact, we really don't eat any fast food.  Now, we like to go out to eat on Fridays for Mexican or what not, and occasionally we bring home Chipotle (not fast food and something I could eat every meal), but for the most part, we cook.  I try to cook about 2-3 times a week, and we freeze the leftovers.  I always try to have a decent stash in the freezer so that I don't have to cook every night, because that is tough.

I would really like to get into monthly meal planning.  I am hoping this fall I will have some time to try and get organized and figure out a way to do it.  We grocery shop at Aldi and Wal-Mart (saving us TONS of money) and I think with a little organization, I could do it.  Right now, I weekly meal plan.  I have a menu that I create on Saturday or Sunday (whichever day we are going to the grocery store) and then I make the grocery list accordingly.

Weekly Menu!

Anyway, this is all to say that cooking regular meals after working all day while trying to keep the Energizer Bunny out of mischief is very difficult.  Plus, if I have to spend thirty minutes getting supper together, it's less time I have to spend with Susan.

So...CROCK POT to the rescue!  I have always loved my crock pot and use it frequently, especially in the winter for various soups and stews.  That is always the problem I have had, though - finding things to cook in it besides soups, stews and roasts.  Well, then PINTEREST came to my rescue.  I have found so may wonderful recipes.  We have enjoyed Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Asian Shredded Beef and Buffalo Chicken Lasagna (to name a few)- all made in the Crock Pot.  And there are a ton of others to try.  I found this woman who used her Crock Pot for an entire year.  Now of course, she didn't just make entrees for the entire year; she also made breakfast meals and desserts which are neat but not what I am looking for.  But there are tons for me to try.

I love my Crock Pot.  I registered for it when we got married.  It is a 6qt Round Crock Pot Smart Pot.  The best thing is the digital countdown.  I can set it for however long or short I want and then it switches to Keep Warm.  It is so wonderful to come home at the end of the day and know that supper is basically done.  And while there is a little prep involved in the morning, I have much more energy to do it then.  (My parents also gave me a mega 8qt Crock Pot for Christmas last year that I use when I want to cook a huge roast or double a good recipe, like White Chicken Chili). 

So I would highly recommend to all my friends with children that if you don't have a good Crock Pot or you don't have one at all, INVEST.  It has really been one of my best survival tools these last few weeks.  It allows us to have home cooked family dinners together while preserving my sanity after a long work day and a toddler on the loose.  Of course, this means that some of our favorite recipes that don't involve a Crock Pot will have to be put aside for a while.  But that's okay.  This isn't forever - but for now, we could not survive without our Crock Pot.

And I am pretty sure that the Crock Pot would be a Life Saver if I was a stay-at-home-mom too.  I can imagine (because I do it on the weekends) that running around after the little Energizer Bunnies all day long is very tiring and the last thing a SAHM feels like doing, just like working mom, is figure out how to get supper together.  By getting supper together in the crock pot, whatever down-time a SAHM mom has during naps, etc. can be used for resting and recuperating (and probably laundry but try to resist that urge!)  I guess what I am trying to say  is that regardless of your mom status (working at home by taking care of the kids or away because they are both tough and equally zap the life out of you), a Crock Pot is your best friend.

And by all means, if you have any favorite Crock Pot recipes, please share them in the Comments!


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  2. Chris's favorite crock pot meal I make is Italian Creamy chicken,
    2-4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese (let sit out to soften)
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 pkg. italian dressing seasoning (the dried kind in the packet)

    stir the cream cheese, cream of chicken, and seasoning together in the crockpot. i actually start it on low and let them sit in there for for a few min so the cream cheese is softer to stir. put the frozen (or thawed if you prefer) chicken in and cover with mix. cook on high 4-6 hours or until the chicken is cooked through.

    Serve over rice or egg noodles