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!

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 😀

Related Posts

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Food: Breakfast variety

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9 Foody Places to go as a group of Mums with babies/toddlers

New food and drink guidelines for 1 to 5 year olds

 

A day of freezer cooking

I’ve read a lot recently about Batch Cooking. We are very lucky that we have a large upright freezer and it has really been an amazing help over the past two years. When I was pregnant, before I was unable to walk, I spent a few weekends making extra meals ready for when my little one arrived. Having these meals on stand by were absolutely essential to those first few frantic months. Now that I’m working and a lot more experienced in my parenting, I try to spend one afternoon every couple of months making extra meals to freeze.

I’ve mentioned before that I mealplan because it’s cheaper and less wasteful. Having a large freezer really helps us to do this. I try to ensure that, as much as possible, my family eat homecooked meals. Most of my extended family and my friends will tell you that I’m a crap cook, but I’ve managed to pull together a few staple meals which keep us going.

Some of my easiest favourite meals to batch cook are:

  • Vietnamese Beef Soup
  • Cottage Pie
  • Casserole
  • Basic spag bol which can also be converted into Chilli
  • Goulash (so easy in the slow cooker)
  • Sausage rolls (may sound a bit strange, but my husband is from up north and it keeps him happy :-D)

Another way that I also batch cook is when we have a slow cooker meal. I try to ensure that at least one evening meal a week is a slow cooker meal, as I’ve mentioned HERE before. I’ve got the biggest slow cooker I could get, I think it’s about 6 pints, maybe even bigger! This means that when I’m cooking a meal, I nearly always cater so that there is enough for two meals. I either stick what’s left in a box or a plastic bag and it goes straight into the freezer. I do write on it the date of when it was cooker, so I know when to use it by.

I’m also a total addict of Lock and Lock Boxes. They are the best “tuperware” boxes that I’ve found. We also use Ziplock bags (Costco – beg for membership! It’s next to Madjeski Stadium, Reading) to freeze things like dried herbs and soups, but I am a little paranoid of storing everything in plastic. If only they made BPA free ziplock bags!!!

Do you Batch Cook? Which recipes are the easiest and quickest that you like to cook? I’m intrigued to know as it would be great to get some more meals to add to my repertoire.

Related Links

Once-a-month cooking made easy

Make your freezer your best friend

A Day of Freezer Cooking

 

Random Friday Post – Things I’ve learnt recently

As it’s Friday, today’s post is going to be filled with a few random things, that don’t constitute a full post of their own. I’ve learnt a lot about parenting over the past six months and I’ve built on what I’ve already learnt.

Slow Cookers

Yup, it’s slow cooker season again. Yippeee!!! Although, to be honest, we haven’t stopped using ours! I indulged and bought a slow cooker recipe book and it’s been brilliant. We use the slow cooker at least once a week and I try to ensure that we have as much variety of meals using the slow cooker so I’ve been branching out. A friend told me that you can make a lasagna in your slow cooker! I’ve found a recipe but haven’t tried it yet as I feel it’s still a bit advanced. However, I also found a recipe for making muffins in the slow cooker, so I want to try that soon. Check out my post earlier in the year about why I love my Slow Cooker.

Ace gentle

An experienced Mum told me about Ace Gentle. I was moaning about how I could never get stains out of whites and didn’t want to use bleach. Her children always look immaculate in whites so I asked her what her secret was. She willingly shared the joy of Ace Gentle with me. It’s fantastic. My little one’s bibs have been revolutionised and her white tops are still white! It doesn’t get every stain out completely but I’ve found that if I hang clothes out on a sunny day, it gets the majority of the stain out. Much better than anything else I’ve tried.

Evernote

I’m still completely addicted to Evernote. I use it for everything, from recording warranty details on new items, for work, for NHM, and for organising our daily lives. I love that I can sync it to my phone, iPad and computer and you don’t have to be connected to the internet for it to work. Only for it to sync. It really is my portable brain.

Dropbox

I use Dropbox for the same reason I use Evernote. It’s easy to use and I can sync it to all of my devices. I used it in April  to store pdf versions of our passports when we went abroad. I use it to store any word or excel documents that I might want easy access too.

9 Ways to get your husband to help around the house

I probably shouldn’t share this, but it did make me snigger!

Nappies

We’ve always used Pampers nappies. I tried some eco ones early on but they weren’t very good and leaked everywhere. I wanted to get some reusable nappies but didn’t know enough about it and didn’t know if we could justify the initial outlay.

We were using the main Pampers brand nappies but I’ve discovered that Simply Dry Pampers nappies are pretty much the same as the Expensive Pampers brand, just half price. I haven’t had any incidents of them leaking yet and the only difference seems to be in the thickness of the nappy and the marketing image on the front of the nappy. Otherwise, they seem to be exactly the same.

I’ve also discovered that swimming nappies come apart. Why did no one tell me this beforehand? Even my husband didn’t know this! This was a huge revelation. We’ve both been using them as pull up nappies since my little one started swimming at 3 months old. Big DUH to us that we only found it out, literally on the day she turned 18 months! lol. Now we know that we can tear the side of the nappy to get them off. This also goes for pull up nappies, which we tried recently but I hated because they were a nightmare to get off. It’s always the simple things that make such a difference!! lol.

What are the things that you’ve learnt recently that you think might help other parents?

My Meal Planning in 2012

Following on from yesterdays post about the joy of Slow cookers, I thought I’d follow up with a post about meal planning.

Meal planning is one of the things that helps our family keep on track and stops us from reaching into the cupboard and eating the quickest, easiest and normally most unhealthy, food we can find. I’ve been meal planning for several years but it was more a case of buying in food for the week and choosing which meal we wanted as and when. Now I’m back at work, we have less money and we have a baby, things have needed to be planned better. We’ve started to use the concept of having a certain type of meal each evening. Ours is:

  • Monday – Vegetarian
  • Tuesday – Slow Cooker (We have activities on Tues evening so we need something very quick)
  • Wednesday – Fish
  • Thursday – Pasta with homemade pasta sauce (we have more activities on Thurs evening so need something very quick here too)
  • Friday – Takeout/Dineout/Homemade Pizza/whatever we can find in the freezer
  • Saturday – I normally put in a fancy dish that takes a bit more time if we aren’t out and about
  • Sunday – Roast

This means that I no longer need to think about meals nor do I have to constantly answer my husband’s questions asking what we are having for dinner that evening. He knows that if it’s Monday, its vegetarian (his particular pet hate, but I think we are getting there slowly! What is it about some men and vegetables? lol). If it’s Wednesday it’s fish. Sometimes we chop and change Tues and Thurs so have a slow cooker meal on a Thurs instead of Tues. He knows that if he comes home on a Tues and the house doesn’t smell of slow cooked food, we are having pasta.

We use the MealBoard Application on iTunes as we both have iPAD’s (the iPADS’s have been our one indulgence in the past couple of years!). It allows me to add breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for each day. I love this because it ensures that we don’t waste that much food and reminds me to ensure that we have healthy snacks available. It also allows me to create templates based on one or two week’s existing meal plans, so I can just copy in a template for future weeks and move things around as I like. I don’t use the templates as often as I could because I like to keep as much variety in our meals as possible. You can sync the application to other Apple products which means that my husband can immediately check what we are having for dinner on any given day, and often he will start the cooking if I’m not back in time.

The MealBoard Application works for us but there are many other types of meal planning tools that you could use.

Using Meal Board and shopping online means that I can plan our meals and shopping in about 5 minutes now. I estimate that this planning gives me about an hour to two hours a week back with my family. Meal planning also helps me to ensure that we have at least one portion of fish a week, at least one vegetarian meal a week and that we are eating as much variety as we can.

I’ve enclosed a few links below that you might find interesting reading…

Sainsburys Meal Planning and Meal Ideas (I really like this site. They have some great recipes that are quick, cheap and easy to make).

Back to the Basics: Meal Planning I love Simple Mom’s website. It’s an American site but she has some great ideas and really appeals to my planning and organising nature.

Imperfect, Flexible, Doable Meal Blueprint

The six meal shuffle: extremely simple meal planning This is also an American website but Megan has some great tips and ideas.

3 Fail proof ways to stick to meal planning An American website but still some great ideas.