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God bless the inventor of the slow cooker. I mean, I prefer to cook on the stove, but there have been COUNTLESS times that one appliance has really been there for me. These last few weeks are just one example of the slow cooker showing me love. There was a time when I did not have one. Oh! The horror! I am so glad that it is back in my life for good.
If you are following me on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube (and if you aren’t, you should totally click those links and take care of that), you may know that I have been taking a break from blogging because I have been very sick. I had some kind of sickness that turned into a-typical (AKA walking) pneumonia. The struggle has been real-er that real. It has been R.E.A.L.
Now, in my house, I have two grown men with college degrees, one young man that is a full-time college student, and a girl who has been cooking since she was 4. I have a meal plan with all the ingredients in the cupboards. I have Pinterest boards that every member of my family can access to get recipes for the meals on the meal plan if they don’t remember how to make them. I even keep the kitchen relatively clean, so they don’t have to work too hard to get something started. Yet, in spite of all that, on the day that I was feeling the worst, everyone could not get it together with what I had in the house in order to make dinner.
They ran to the dollar store to grab some cans of pasta (the red ones made by a chef 😉 ) . No problem with that part, exactly. We have emergency funds to cover the cost. The one issue was that my husband, who is cheap, did not buy himself anything for dinner. He decided to do without until I could cook for him again.
Is my husband the only one who does this?
OK. Actually, he decided he would make something from what we had at home, but couldn’t figure out anything when he got there. So, I woke up from a fitful sleep at 7PM to discover that my kitchen was a mess and my husband was hangry. Not a good combination if you know about his OCD issues. I even offered to make him something, and he responded that he would figure it out. He didn’t. The next day, he didn’t figure out lunch for himself either. I knew that if there was going to be peace for my recovery, I would need to ensure that everyone in my household had food while I was sick.
Out comes the slow cooker.
If you need one, don’t fear. They are really inexpensive for such a necessary appliance. You can grab one up for a bargain!
I have a long list of slow cooker meals that I enjoy. Many are among my favorite regular recipes- coconut chicken curry and pot roast are prepared often here. The thing is, those recipes aren’t often the fastest to prepare (cutting up lots of vegetables) or the most frugal (beef can be pricey, and coconut milk and curry spice add up). So, I thought I would share with you some of the fast & frugal meals that come in handy when mom is sick.
Here are 3 of my favorites.
1. FAST & FRUGAL Meatball Subs
Few recipes are easier than this one. Dump the meatballs and sauce into the crockpot, wait, and put it on the bread. Delicious. You can add veggies to the sub if you prefer, but I like to keep it simple. I will tell you that I have made these meatballs for church fellowships and other events, and people always ask me about them. They never believe it is this easy. It is, and that is why even a sick mom can do it. Frozen, Italian-style meatballs work best. but regular meatballs will work well in a pinch. I usually purchase a large bag for under $5, and I have been known to purchase two smaller bags if the price is better. Once, I purchased small bags for 99 cents! Needless to say, I stocked up that time! Cans of pizza sauce are usually under $1 here, as are the hot dog buns and French bread. I use whatever cheese I have on hand or none if I don’t have any available. Either way, everyone is happy. I could make this for my family of five for $5, that’s $1 each! This is MUCH better than Rick running out and grabbing take out if I can’t cook. Throw in a salad (also under $1 at Aldi) and I think we have a satisfactory, complete meal.
2. FAST & FRUGAL Creamy Chicken Soup
We actually eat this a lot, but I usually make it on the stove. This is the variation for when I am not feeling up to cooking. As you can see, there are some cut vegetables. On a normal day, I would cut them fresh. When I am sick, canned veggies make things easier. You can use store bought or home canned. You will never guess which one I prefer 🙂 The onion and garlic will still need to be cut. I would just use a vegetable chopper or a mandolin slicer to take care of the onion with a quickness. The garlic can be placed in a garlic press. Easy. In just a few minutes, you can have dinner in the crockpot and be back in the bed… or on the couch. Chicken breast is something almost everyone has in their freezer. On a normal day, I would use bone-in chicken for more flavor and pick the bones out after cooking, but a sick mama doesn’t have time for that. A regular, boneless breast will do the job. It’s easy to shred, and believe it or not, just one breast makes plenty of meat for a pot of soup. You can use chicken broth instead of water if you have it, but it’s not necessary with so much cream of chicken soup. At our Aldi, the cans of potatoes and carrots run 59 cents each, and the cream of chicken in 69 cents. That adds up to $4.33. The onion and garlic are pennies, and I usually purchase chicken breast under $2 a pound. I think I could do this meal for under $6.50. That’s $1.30 each. Want to make this more filling? You can add any pasta you have on hand in the last 30 minutes of cooking. Want to stretch this one further and have lunch the next day? Make 3 cups of rice. Serve the soup over rice, and when everyone is finished, put the leftover rice in the leftover soup. Place in your fridge overnight, and let it soak up all the goodness. The next day, add a couple of cups of chicken broth and heat up those leftovers. You won’t believe how good it tastes! Everyone in my house likes the second day better than the first one.
Want to see me make this soup? I made a video. This version is on the stove, but it will give you an idea of how to prepare it in the slow cooker (so much easier). Here you go:
3. FAST & FRUGAL Tacos
My love for tacos has reached a new high this year. It all started with home-canned salsa. Oh. My. Soul. I just LOVE the flavor of the salsa that I canned with my friend last year. We went through it with a quickness. I was SO sad to discover that we had run out. Then, when I was cleaning out my cabinets, I found one beautiful jar that had gotten shoved WAY in the back. It was like Christmas. So, when I am sick, a taste of that heavenly flavor is just what the doctor ordered. Having it for dinner without much effort is even better. Do you see this recipe? How much easier can it get? Throw it in, turn the crockpot on, and stir it once. Hours later, you have a meal. So simple! Even better, this one is a real bargain. A pound of ground meat is easily under $2. You could use turkey, chicken, or beef. A packet of taco seasoning is well under $1. The salsa is under $3in the store, but we are using our home-canned. Again, you could purchase all of the ingredients for under $5. How you serve it is up to you. When I am sick, I like to get a bag of tortilla chips ($1.29 at Aldi) and serve the taco filling on them. You can pile any ingredients you have on top. We almost always have cheese, sour cream, black beans, lettuce, and onions. Peppers and mushrooms are often available, too. Don’t buy any extras. Use what you have on hand and save. The greatest part of this one is that everyone can serve themselves. In fact, they tend to insist on it here. They all want to make their own concoction. That works for this mom. The less I have to stress with, the better.
That’s it. Here you have 3 FAST & FRUGAL Crockpot Meals for When Mom is Sick. What meals do you like to throw in the crockpot when you are sick? I would love to hear your ideas. Believe me, right now, I am open to them.
Thanks again for your kind thoughts and prayers while I continue to recover. I am looking forward to getting back to normal as soon as possible.
Did you know that I feed my family of 5 for $100 a month? Want to know how? Check out my free blog series. Here is a link to the first part- How I Feed My Family of 5 for $100 Every Month.