It’s time to get those slow cookers out!

There is definitely a chill in the air in the evenings now, so it feels like it must be the start of “slow cooker season”. Yay!

As I’ve mentioned before, I use our slow cookers all year round but they really come into their own in August.

Those of you who have been reading NorthHantsMum for a while, will know how much I LOVE our slow cookers and how useful they are to cook healthy and cheap meals for my family.

Over the past few years I’ve put together a list of slow cooker recipes that I use regularly and have emailed them out to readers.

I’ve now taken this a step further and consolidated them into a “booklet”.

If you would like a copy of my slow cooker recipe booklet, which is great for someone who is starting out with using their slow cooker, please email me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

However, please remember that NHM is my hobby, so it might take me a while to email it across to you.

Hope you find your slow cookers and the booklet useful!

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Top Tip 34: Slow Cooker Lasagna

Someone told me a couple of years ago (Hi Laura!) that you could do lasagna in your slow cooker .

I was bit sceptical but have been wanting to try it for ages and finally got around to it a few weeks ago.

We loved it so much, that we have had it twice in the past month! Which possibly explains why I’m not losing any weight at the moment! lol.

Top Tip 34: Slow Cooker Lasagna

I used my slow cooker to batch cook a basic bolognese sauce. I use:

  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped onion
  • finely chopped carrots,  peppers and apple (lots of hidden veg and you can’t taste them)
  • loads of garlic
  • minced beef
  • beef stock
  • tomato puree
  • oregano
  • and sometimes passata if it’s in the cupboard.

I chuck it all in the slow cooker and let it cook for 8 hours.

I make a huge batch and then freeze it and use it as a base for pasta and sauce, chilli (chuck in some mild chilli and red kidney beans for 30 mins when reheating) and now for lasagna.

This sauce is very versatile!

Steps

Layer your stuff. For my first layer I put in the bolognese sauce.

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Then I break up the lasagna sheets to cover the sauce.

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Then I add the cheese sauce (Make a rue, with butter and flour, add milk very slowly and keep stirring constantly and then boil so the sauce thickens. Add some grated cheese once sauce has thickened. You don’t need to use much cheese).

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Then I add another layer of bolognese sauce.

You can add a layer of spinach here too if you want to add some more veg.

Depending on how much “stuff” I have available, I will keep doing the layers until I’ve run out!

However, the last two layers on the top are always the lasagna sheets topped with the cheese sauce and some grated cheese.

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Then wack your slow cooker on low for 4 hours.

I actually switched mine off after 3.5 hours last time because I could smell that it was cooked (it smells YUMMY!).

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Then serve!

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We have ours with salad. (when I say “we”, I obviously mean me and Miss NHM as Mr NHM’s is still northern and refuses to eat salads :-D).

I often end up storing what’s left in the fridge and ensure that when I re-heat the lasagna it’s boiling hot, so no risk of food poisoning.

Related Posts

Top Tip 31: Batch Cooking: Home Made Cottage pie

Mum Top Tip’s

Top Tip 8: Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum onTwitter,Google+,Facebook PageFacebook Profile, LinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there! 

Top Tip 31: Batch Cooking: Home Made Cottage pie

If I had written this post ten years ago, I probably would have shot myself! lol.

The fact that I really enjoyed doing this, says a lot about how my life and mindset has changed :-D.

Top Tip 31: Batch Cooking: Home Made Cottage pie

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A few weeks ago, I spent an hour making six meals for my family, which I’ve frozen and which have already gotten me out of a few sticky “lack of meal” situations!

I was lucky enough to pop into Lakeland in Reading a few days before and picked up some of those foil dishes that you can use to freeze prepared meals in.

They were excellent but I’ve just found that they are a lot cheaper from Sainsburys, so will try those foil dishes and let you know how I get on.

In the morning I put the slow cooker cottage pie mix on.

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This was:

  • Minced beef
  • Chopped onions
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • A carrot, finely chopped
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • Gravy granules

In the evening I boiled some potatoes and turned them into mash:

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Once they were ready, I loaded the dishes up:

056I then topped them off with grated cheese:

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I put the lids on and put them in the freezer.

It took about an hour, all in all, and I made six healthy meals that have been yummy!

Have you tried batch freezer cooking and if yes, which recipes do you cook?

Top Tip 28: 52 Slow Cooker recipes to get you started…

The lovely Liane from Smallprint West Berks and North Hants sent me this link.

I thought it would be great to share with you, especially as I haven’t sent my slow cooker recipes to Sam or Danielle yet. Sorry ladies!

(Really must add that to my list of things to do! lol)

The Slow Cooker Recipes That You’ll Never Want To Live Without

Related Page

Mum Top Tip’s (all of the Mum top tips on NHM on one page!)

Top Tip 26: “Slow cooker wonders” group on facebook

Today was a milestone in my life…

I used BOTH of my slow cookers AT THE SAME TIME!!!?!?!

I am now, officially, a slow cooker addict! lol.

We had slow cooker roast chicken in the large slow cooker and rice pudding in the smaller slow cooker.

I picked up the rice pudding recipe from this fabulous FB group:

Slow cooked wonders 🙂

Highly recommend joining this group if you are looking for some slow cooker inspiration!

22 Strategies for Returning to work

(Nearly all of these strategies can be applied to those who aren’t returning to work ;-))

1. De-clutter

Get rid of the clutter before your maternity leave ends. Box up all the baby clothes that you want to keep and put them in the loft and then sort the others out into “recycle”, “give away” and “sell”. (Did you know you can recycle clothes even when they are covered in stains?)

Do not buy lots and lots of toys for your children, they will not appreciate them. Especially as they will be spending some time in nursery or at a childminders or somewhere else that will have toys. The toys that you have, make sure you can tidy them up easily and quickly.

Find a place for everything and “train” the rest of the family to put things back where they belong. In our house, Miss NHM is way, way, way better than Mr NHM at doing this, possibly because it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks :-D. (Hi Darling! :-D)

Make sure there is a place near the front door for your car keys, mobile and wallet. Not too close to the front door and high enough that small children can’t get to them. I have a friend (Hi Jo! :-D) whose toddler was notorious for hiding car keys and she could never find them and was often late to things as a result.

Getting rid of the clutter and giving everything a home reduces the time you spend putting things away and hunting things down. Time you won’t have when you are back at work.

2. Get a cleaner

Our cleaner is awesome. She costs £40 a month and  comes to clean for 1.5 hours every two weeks. Yes, it’s £40 but for the sake of your sanity and spare time, it will be the best £40 you will ever spend. Tracy, our cleaner, has literally saved my marriage on a number of occasions! Lol.

Yes, I know that some of you can’t bear the thought of having someone clean your house (Hi Laura! :-D) but if you can get over it, you will be doing yourself a MASSIVE favour.

3. Don’t iron anything

Yup, I’m lazy and hate ironing, so I don’t do it. If anything in our house needs ironing I get Mr NHM to do it. Or I just don’t buy anything that needs ironing.

If you are desperate, use the hot shower Tip. This saved me on a number of work trips abroad! 😉

4. Meal plan

There is nothing worse than falling through the door after work and thinking “S**t, we’ve got nothing for dinner!?!?!?!”.

This post HERE that I wrote in 2012 is still the system that we follow in our house for meal planning.

5. Have a slow cooker, preferably two

We have two slow cookers. One that is massive (it’s big enough to fit a whole chicken in) and one that is small and makes enough for the thee of us with no leftovers. I’m so in love with my slow cooker that I even take it on holiday with us!!

Roast chicken in the slow cooker is a dream and the leftover chicken can be used the following few days in, chicken salad, paella, etc..

Last year I sent out lots of slow cooker recipes that I have tried and tested. If you would also like a copy of these recipes please email me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com and I will forward them on again.

6. Beg, borrow or steal* a tumble dryer

This one speaks for itself.

You especially need access to a tumble dryer if you are returning to work before your child has finished weaning.

7. Beg, borrow or steal* a large freezer

I have a “slummy mummy” confession to make… we often “freezer dive” for meals when we’ve both been in the office.

I recommend checking out this link HERE about potential emergency meals. Or make your own if you have time ;-).

8. Beg, Borrow or steal* a dishwasher

And teach your husband, partner, children, how to load it and unload it 😉

9. Batch cook

Check out my previous post about A day of freezer cooking.

I often try to make extra of a meal and feezer into meal sized portions, just to take the pressure off another day.

10. Use technology to its best advantage

Make sure you sync all your email accounts to your mobile. This is mandatory, especially if your nursery or school uses email. It’s also mandatory for keeping on top of things.

Get yourself a Goggle calendar set up and make sure each person in the family has a google calendar and you can access and edit it. This is fundamental for when you are in the office and need to update diaries.

Synchronise your diary with any “adults” in your family at least once a week. Mr NHM and I review the following month every Sunday evening. Without fail. The times we haven’t done this someone there has nearly always been a schedule crisis that week.

11. Subscribe to your doctors, dentists, nursery and vets text message alerts

There will come a time when you get distracted by work and forget to add something to your calendar in your mobile. A text message from the doctors reminding you about your child’s immunisation shot appointments can be a god send! ( I speak from experience here, <blush>).

12. Charge your technology every other evening

This is ironic because I never do this, Mr NHM has to do it for me! lol. However, in my work rucksack I have chargers for each mobile (I carry three with me) and I also splashed out and bought mobile chargers for my car.

13. Get a car with a hands free phone built in (but only if you can afford it!!)

This has revolutionised my life. I actually have conversations with my friends these days, albeit nearly always on the way to or from work.

14. Find a reliable Babysitter

We asked around at Miss NHM’s nursery and her key worker has been our babysitter for the past two years. She’s pretty much part of our family now! lol.

If you are struggling with finding a babysitter, please check out my previous post on NHM HERE.

15. Have a regular Date Night

I know that going on a regular Date Night when your children are small is really tough. It’s so worthwhile though. We can really tell in our household, when Mr NHM and I haven’t been on Date Night for a while 😉

If you are looking for some suggestions of what to do, please check out these previous posts HERE, HERE and HERE. Or, just arrange for a babysitter and go out for a walk. It’s a great way to chat in a neutral environment whilst getting some light exercise at the same time.

16. Find a mobile hairdresser

You will not have time to make a hair appointment because they are nearly always in working hours. Unless you want to get up early on Saturday morning, but who wants to do that after a week at work! So find someone who can come to you out of normal working hours. It will save your sanity, and hair many, many times.

Check out these pages on NHM for a list of mobile hairdressers and mobile beauticians

17. Do NOT schedule lots of classes on the weekend to make up for your guilt about putting junior into nursery in the week

This one speaks for itself ;-). Weekends should be family time.

18. Online Food Shopping

Learn how to order your shopping online BEFORE you go back to work and try to find an online service that has an App on your phone. I actually cheat and use a competitor app because it’s really good, and then transfer it across to the supermarket I use when I make an order ;-).

We also have a regular vegetable delivery each week and fresh fish delivered to our door every two months. It’s one less thing for me to think about.

19. Before your maternity leave starts, try to wean yourself of any TV soaps you are addicted too

You won’t have time to watch them when you return to work. Yes, seriously.

20. Only have one child

Ok, so this one is a little bit flippant, but I’m well aware that having more than one child is at least double the work and then some.

I have no idea how people with three or more children manage it. Mucho respect!

21. Find something for YOU!

When I returned to work I became a mother, wife and worker and it felt like I was nothing but those three roles. However, you are still you, with hopes and dreams. You still need time to be you, so do not feel guilty about taking time out for yourself. I know this is easier said than done. I’ve been there.

But you will be a better Mum, wife and worker if you do make time for yourself. Have a look at this post HERE I wrote a few years ago, for some ideas for time for yourself.

22. You are doing an amazing job!

Every so often, when at work or at home, congratulate yourself on being a superior multi-tasker.

Being a parent is very hard at times and the learning curve can be very steep, but it’s an amazing life skill :-D.

*Obviously I don’t really mean you should steal these items 😉

Top Tip 8: Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

Apologies to the vegetarians who read NHM (Sorry Su!!! :-D) but this is a great tip for the meat eaters in your life.

I’ve raved many times about how slow cookers are fantastic and help me to feed my family healthily.

I can’t even remember where I found out about this, but it’s so easy and makes such a delicious meal.

Top Tip: Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

Buy a chicken, stick a lemon inside it and put the chicken in a slow cooker that’s large enough.

You can also put in an onion that’s been chopped into quarters and some peeled garlic cloves.

Put your slow cooker on for 7 to 8 hours.

That’s it.

This will be the most moist chicken you will ever eat and you can make it last for several leftover meals afterwards as the meat just falls off the bone.

I do this on Sunday’s as it means we can go out for the day, I don’t have to worry about dinner for the evening and we can still have a roast dinner or chicken salad.

Related Page

Mum Top Tip’s (all of the Mum top tips on NHM on one page!)

It’s Slow Cooker Season, Yay!

To be fair, it’s slow cooker season in our house all year round, but when it turns to Autumn, it feels like my slow cookers come into their own. Right now I have a small joint of pork cooking on a bed of onions and apples. Sounds fancy, but anyone who knows me, knows I’m a pretty crap cook. That’s possibly another reason why I think my slow cookers are great! lol.

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I love my slow cooker and that we couldn’t live our lives as we do, without it. When we went on holiday recently and stayed in a Yurt, I bought a two person slow cooker which is  perfect for the three of us and it saved me oodles of time and worry about what to eat each evening on our holiday.

There is nothing quite like throwing everything into a slow cooker and then coming back 6 to 8 hours later to a meal that can be immediately served up.

Over the past couple of years I’ve picked up lots of slow cooker recipe’s. Unfortunately I didn’t take a note of where I found them, so I can’t post up the recipe’s as I’m not able to give the credit back to the original “owner”.

I have a friend who recently bought a slow cooker but had no idea where to start. I have over 80 slow cooker recipe’s in my Mealboard App, so I had a look and realised that I can email them to my email account.

So I’m going to try something new. If you have a slow cooker but need some inspiration for tried and tested recipe’s, drop me an email at northhantsmum@gmail.com with the heading “Slow Cooker Recipe’s” and I will bombard send you twenty of our favourite slow cooker recipe’s.

However, please keep in mind that NHM is my hobby, so it may take me a little bit of time to reply to you!

Fingers crossed this works and helps you on your slow cooker journey 😀

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I love my Slow Cooker!!!

I realize how tragic that statement is, but at the moment, I really do love it. It’s helping my family eat healthy, nutritious meals that I haven’t had to slave over in the kitchen for hours. I believe that one of the most important things as a Mum is to ensure that your family are eating and exercising well. Both of these set your loved ones up in good stead for the future.

My Slow Cooker enables me to spend more time with my family doing fun things or going for walks and still enables me to feed them well. We had a small slow cooker that was suitable for two people but it never seemed to create enough food for a whole meal. Now that there are three of us I’ve upgraded to a much bigger slow cooker so that I can cook two meals at the same time, saving time, money and energy! We often have one half of the cooked meal for dinner and then I split the rest of the meal and freeze it to use for dinner another day or for lunch at work. We’ve also found that in the colder weather the slow cooker cooks the right kind of meals, warm and nourishing whilst being healthy and nutritious. It’s wonderful to come home to a kitchen that smells of yummy dinner.

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few months since falling in love with my slow cooker.  It’s amazing how many recipies can be adapted for the slow cooker.

  •  If you are cooking your meat for long enough, you don’t even need to brown it off first, just chuck it all into the pot.
  • I’ve read somewhere that in order for your slow cooker to be most cost effective you should use it on the low setting the majority of the time.

I know this sounds very organized but I think you need to be when you have children. A little bit of planning goes an awfully long way and anything that helps to decrease my stress levels is worth it!

Check out the following links which show the best slow cooker’s on the UK market and some easy slow cooker recipes to get you started…

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It’s Slow Cooker Season, Yay!

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Online Food Shopping