By Jami Leigh, Contributing Writer
As the long, hot, lazy days of summer drag on, I dread starting my oven at night to cook dinner. We have a nice swamp cooler in our house but once that oven gets going (especially to make a 40-minute dinner), our house heats up and it just gets too hot!
This summer I’ve been exploring ways to cut down on the heat from my oven and also cut down the time I spend in the kitchen. I want to enjoy my summer and spend time outside with my kids while it stays lighter later. I’ve been playing with a combination of freezer cooking and slow cooker meals to help me stay out of the kitchen more, keep the house cool, and still have yummy home-cooked meals most nights.
I’m keeping my meal planning strategy simple this summer and I invite you to take it easy too with these amazing slow cooker and freezer meal recipes.
Utilize Your Freezer
Freezer cooking is the single best thing I’ve done for gaining control of my kitchen. Freezer cooking allows me to plan better, save money, and always have meals ready to go! And during the summer, it helps to free up my time so I don’t have to sacrifice precious moments playing with kids.
In California, 5 p.m. is the hottest part of the day. The sun is blazing and our house is cooking. I’ve been utilizing freezer cooking so that even if I want to make meals that require the oven, I can make them on days that are cooler and at times when it won’t heat up the house as much (such as early morning and in cool evenings).
Invest in a Slow Cooker (or three)
I love having multiple slow cookers because you can use them for so much! You can make breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, dessert, and even bread in the Crock-Pot! On days when it’s really hot, I’ll have things going in multiple slow cookers. Often I will have dinner and a side going, along with a yummy dessert baking away.
Making a plan beforehand and using my slow cooker(s) well, allows me to do prep work in the morning and by dinner time, my kitchen is clean and not too warm.
I’ve done the hard work for you … here are some amazing slow cooker and freezer cooking meals that you can add to your weekly meal plan so you can free up some time in the kitchen and keep your house cool!
Crock-Pot Breakfast Recipes
Pear and Ginger Slow Cooker Oatmeal – Keeper of the Home
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal – Domestic Superhero
Pumpkin Oatmeal Recipe – Wannabite
Effortless Breakfast Burritos – Cooking Books
Breakfast Casserole – From Lemons to Lemonade
Spinach and Mozzarella Frittata – Skinnyms.
Crock-Pot Lunch/Dinner Recipes
Crock Pot Chili Recipe – Blessings Overflowing
Chicken Taco Salad or Burrito Bowl – Practical Stewardship
Crock Pot Chicken and Quinoa - The Nourishing Gourmet
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili – Milk Free Mama
Complete Steak Dinner in a Crockpot – Stockpiling Moms
Slow Cooker Pesto and Spinach Lasagna Recipe – Crockpot 365
BBQ Chicken Drumsticks – Practical Stewardship
Crockpot Rotisserie Style Chicken – Blessings Overflowing
Sweet and Sour Chicken – Practical Stewardship
Lemon and Herb Crockpot Roasted Chicken – Crockpot 365
Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup – Mason Jar Values
Crockpot Beef BBQ Short Ribs – Natural Fertility and Wellness
Crock Pot Creamy Turkey and Quinoa – Stacy Makes Cents
Crockpot Roast, Potatoes, and Carrots – Blessings Overflowing
Crock pot Pasta Sauce – The Humbled Homemaker
Crockpot Broccoli Beef – Crock Pot 365
Crockpot Pork Chops with Gravy – Blessings Overflowing
Crock pot Clam Chowder – A New England Life
Crock-Pot Side Recipes
Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot – 100 Days of Real Food
Making Homemade Yogurt in the Crock Pot – Keeper of the Home
Crock Pot Sugar-Free Strawberry Chia Jam – Stacy Makes Cents
Easy slow cooker seafood stock – Anthony St. Clair
How to Make Slow-Cooker Ketchup – Simple Bites
Hot Onion Dip – Crock-Pot Ladies
Marinara Sauce – Once a Month Meals
Homemade Crock Pot Vegetable Stock – The Holistic Mama
Homemade Crockpot Apple Sauce – Young Wife’s Guide
Crock-Pot Dessert/Beverages Recipes
Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte – Young Wife’s Guide
Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter – oh She Glows
Crock Pot Caramel Apple Cider – Young Wife’s Guide
Crock Pot Honey Spiced Latte – Stacy Makes Cents
Blueberry Lemon Cake – Healthy Slow Cooking
Slow Cooker Fudge – Skinnyms.
Cranberry Coffee Cake – Shape
Slow Cooker Brownies - The Gracious Pantry
Crockpot Almonds – Stacy Makes Cents