A crockpot (or slow cooker) is designed for people who are short on time. Just about any meal can be transformed into a crockpot meal that cooks while you’re at work or running errands; it allows you to come home to a delicious dinner without waiting by the oven or stove top.
The only problem is that recipes sometimes require some advanced prep work, whether it’s browning the meat or chopping the vegetables. When my goal is to get out the door in the morning, the last thing I have the time (or presence of mind) to do is sauté the onions. I’ve also found that cooking times and my workday don’t always align neatly. Plus, sometimes I want that slow cooker soup for lunch, not dinner, but running home midday isn’t possible.
My solution is the overnight crockpot. I usually have some time before I go to bed that I would otherwise waste on watching TV or perusing the internet. I’ve learned to use this time for food prep, and then I throw everything into the crockpot and set it for 6-8 hours. By the time I wake up, my lunch – or dinner – is cooked. I portion it out into Tupperware to cool while I get ready for work, and grab it on my way out the door or stash it in the fridge to be reheated at dinnertime.
Here’s one of my new favorite crockpot recipes, great for the final days of cold weather before spring arrives. This recipe originally came from the Healthy. Delicious. blog.
Slow Cooker Lentil and Pumpkin Chili
- 1 can (15.9 ounce) Black Beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15.9 ounce) Pinto Beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15.9 ounce) Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles (or diced tomatoes)
- 1 can (15.9 ounce) Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix!)
- 2 cups Water
- 1 cup Lentils
- 1 Onion, minced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
- 1 Carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Chipotle Chile Pepper
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook for 8 hours on low.
- Divide into containers and allow to cool slightly before storing or serving.