What A Crock!
The planning and usage of a simple kitchen tool to streamline meal preparation and save money.
Do you have 20 dollars? If you answered “yes”, then make the easiest decision possible and purchase a crockpot. In the era of nutrition and fitness, meal prep has taken the industry by storm. Hundreds of start up companies all offering fresh meals, catered to the individual based on goals, allergies and income level, comprise a larger piece of the proverbial fitness pie nowadays. Supplement companies that once thrived on powders and bars, are slowly starting to recognize a shift towards whole food consumption, in regards to nutritional demands of the busy gymrat. In an effort to contribute some information based on personal experience, I wanted to list some advantages to taking action in regards to your personal intake. It is no mystery that calorie consumption and quality of nutrition regulate a large percentage of how your body composition is determined. Exercise selection, frequency and intensity all play into the result. Now back to the topic at hand, how can I, the individual, make incremental changes to improve my overall nutrition and preparation? Benefits of enlisting the help of a crockpot; low cost, low maintenance, minimal skill requirement, and large variety of meal options.
Sounds great, right? Okay, where do we begin?
Step 1– Research your future arsenal; consider what size you’ll need, if you prefer digital or old-school knob settings, and how much you’re willing to spend.
Step 2– Purchase your crock pot.
Step 3– Gather staple ingredients and practice meals to consider for regular consumption. Note: Start with meals that require minimal brain power.
Step 4– Win at life.
Ok, now the hard part is over. Here are some deeper explanations in regard to food selection and staple ingredients of the crock pot life. First thing, decide how many people you are cooking for. As well as how many meals you should make at one time. I live alone, making the prep simple to measure based on my personal preference and diet structure. Nonetheless; it all boils down to personal choice.
Let us look at the possible options for combinations and variety:
Vegetables: Think of any vegetable, honestly – think of it – now imagine that is has been slow cooked for 6-8 hours, still interested? Put it in the cart.
Meats: This is a different animal all together (get it?). Consider certain cuts of meat that require a more delicate approach to cooking; roasts, tenderloins, whole chicken legs, drumsticks, and stew type meat. These, in general, tend to be the less expensive cuts in comparison to other meats. Therefore saving money and time it takes to usually cook these types of meat.
Spices: All the artistic liberty you want to take in this department, go for it. A simple high quality sea salt, and coarse black pepper can do wonders, but more elaborate flavors like cayenne, cumin, oregano, dill weed and other alternatives can be the clutch addition that makes the meal really enjoyable.
Dressings: Traditional oils (olive, coconut, avocado) can all be utilized, and a variety of dressings like; sriracha, tapatio, cholula, and balsamic vinegar, really round out the flavor profile.
Now that we have the foundation laid and the blueprint in place, we can take action. The mindset to adopt is that you are making dinner without being present to witness the process. Therefore; walking into your house after work and sitting down to eat, without stress, or the burden of prolonging your meal any longer. Which in turn, eliminates the biggest pitfall of nutritional accountability, split second dinner decisions that 99% of the time are not in your best interest. And in most cases, cost substantially more than a prepared meal. I want to list a few examples of startup meal options that require the least investment in time or money and yield incredible results. I will breakdown the portion cost to further reinforce the value added.
Sample Dinner A: Deconstructed Chicken Soup
This staple option has literally no ability to be composed incorrectly, but has no ceiling on possibility.
-chicken thighs, bone in, or whole leg quarters (averaging 1.99-2.29lb)
-sweet onion (averaging .79-99 cents per lb)
-zucchini or yellow squash (averaging 1.19-1.49 per lb)
-carrots (averaging 1 dollar per bag)
-celery (.50-.89 cents per stalk)
-Chop vegetables, place in crockpot, place chicken on top, salt & pepper to taste, set to Low for 6-9 hours. I’m not joking, that is it. This meal can easily feed two adults for $5.47.
Sample Dinner B: Sausage and Peppers
Regardless of choice in sausage, the combination of peppers and onions is a surefire win.
-sweet italian pork sausage (3.49-4.19 per lb)
-sweet onion (.79-99 cents per lb)
-green bell peppers (1-3 peppers $1.00)
-red bell peppers (1-2 peppers $1.00)
-yellow bell peppers(1-2 peppers $1.00)
-Optional pan frying of the sausage for 60 seconds for appearance and presentation, chop up peppers and onions, place in crock pot, salt & pepper to taste, set to Low for 6-9 hours, enjoy.
These are two extremely cost effective, delicious meals to easily prepare for one to four people. The synopsis of this article is to provide a simple alternative dinner option for everyone from the simple bachelor, single parent, and family of four. I am only sharing based on experience and satisfaction with the result from a culinary and monetary standpoint. There are hundreds of potential recipes to explore. And don’t even get me started on rice cookers!