I have been trying hard to better utilize this classic kitchen tool. There are a few nights a week where we don't get home from activities until after we'd be eating most nights. My goal on those nights is to have something hot and nourishing ready to eat when we get home.
And I mean READY. So on those nights I don't put make any of the recipes that call for steps after cooking. Ready to dish up as soon as we get home. And I'll tell you, pulling into the garage and smelling a yummy soup or something when you're hungry - that's good stuff.
So, yeah, there are soups. Soups are good. The kids have pretty much gotten over their pickiness for soups and will eat whatever. For a long time (and I know this isn't unusual) they really didn't like soups that weren't blended.
But we do get tired of soups, so I try to do that only once a week. The other days I've been trying to use it for other things.
A few things that've at least been partially successful:
Pasta: I'll cook pasta (al dente if I'm paying attention - which I'm usually not) and throw it in the crock pot before we leave along with some marinara and cheese. Meat sauce if we're feeling it. It just keeps everything warm till we get home.
"Enchiladas": Definitely need quotation marks here, because I just layer corn tortillas with green enchilada sauce, cheese, and beans (refried + black usually). Tastes delish, but looks like mush when it comes out.
Hot dogs: This was kind of a fun find, actually. Right before we leave I dump a big can of baked beans in the crock, and add hot dogs to the top. Whole, not sliced. They cooked great, and we just threw them into buns when we got home.
Baked Potatoes: Super easy to bake in the crock (my favorite way to bake potatoes in the summer, especially), but we just have to make sure all the toppings are READY and in the fridge before we leave.
(Obviously most of these have salad or something to go with for vegetables).
So what else? I have a few good crockpot cookbooks (this one is our fave), but I am always looking for more ideas!