Crock Pot and Rice Cooker…a busy mom's best friends!

Are you a busy mom? I think the name “mom” is an obvious give away that you are! My life is extremely busy homeschooling three kids, running a small hobby farm, baby sitting my niece and all that goes along with running a household, not to mention writing and cooking for Gling. Life is never dull and I am constantly looking for time saving tools and tips to make my job here at home a bit easier.

Whether you work at home, outside of the home or any combination of the two, dinner time is often a stressful point in the day, although it doesn’t have to be. Isn’t dinner time supposed to be that point in the day that the family comes together and enjoys some time talking about their activities of the day? The family dinner table should be a place of bonding. We spend so much time during the day going our separate ways, coming together at the end of our day creates a strong family unit on so many levels.

OK, I’ll step down from my soap box and give you some tips on how this can be done. It is not as hard as you may think. Even as a stay-at-home-working-mom, I need to carefully plan out my meals and utilize as many tricks and tools as I can. The day can easily get away from me and before I know it, it’s 5:30 and I have not started dinner yet. Not good when I have a hungry family expecting something to “appear” on the table at 6:00. What is a busy mom to do?

There are two tools in my kitchen that make dinner time a bit less stressful even on the busiest of days. The first one is my crock pot. Sure, we all have one. It’s that “thing” that sits on the counter or on top of the refrigerator that we pull out to cook a pot roast in on Sunday mornings or perhaps you drag yours out once a year to heat up the apple cider for your holiday party. Oh, but it is so much more useful than that! Your crock pot can and will be your best friend if you would only give it a chance to show you what it’s got to offer you.

The time you will save, after making friends with your lonely crock pot! Just about anything can be thrown into that amazing tool and right about dinner time, you’ll have a ready made meal. How cool would that be? Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Alright, I’ll admit it, there are a few more steps than that to this process. Trust me, however, it is simple once you get the hang of it.

One of my favorite uses for my crock pot is to cook a big old pork roast. Not only is this a huge time saver, but you’ll save money too. I can buy an inexpensive pork roast big enough to feed my family for 2 or 3 meals. Cook it in my crock pot until it’s falling apart, shred that pork for pulled pork tacos one night and set aside two more meals worth of shredded meat for other meals. Package that meat once it has cooled and store it in the refrigerator for another night that week or freeze it for a quick fix later in the month.

So many things can be made in a crock pot, from spaghetti sauce, chili, chicken, beef roasts, ribs and so much more! The sky’s the limit here, it just takes some planning ahead. Pull that roast out of the freezer the night before, or whatever you are going to cook in there. A few minutes in the morning putting it all together and you will have a tasty dinner in a matter of hours.

Most often, if I’m starting something in my crock pot that I need to have going for more than 5 hours I’ll set my crock pot to low. If it’s going to be less than 4 hours I’ll set it to high. Play with it a bit to see how it’s gong to work for you and how hot your crock pot actually gets.

The second must have tool for this busy mom is my rice cooker! When I first got mine, I loved it instantly. My love for this appliance was renewed when I tried (after having mine for several years, mind you) the delay cook cycle. Oh my goodness! What an awesome feature that is! I can put my long grain brown rice and water in the cooker in the morning, set the delay timer, walk away and just about dinner time it will remind me that the rice is ready with it’s glorious beep that signals the end of the cycle. How cool is that? I can literally “fix it and forget it”!

Yes, I know, I’m easily amused. Simple pleasures that make my job as wife and mom so much easier! Every busy woman should have such joys in her kitchen. One other feature that my rice cooker has is a “keep warm” setting. Once the rice has finished cooking it automatically goes to that setting so the rice stays nice and warm until dinner time!

So the moral of this story is, dinner does not have to be a stressful time. You can get some meat going in your crock pot, rice going in your rice cooker and all you’ll have to do is throw together a salad to go with it all when dinner time rolls around.

Doesn’t that sound better than the 5:30 panic of “What’s for dinner!?” Your family will have a well thought out meal and you can avoid finishing your day in a panic over dinner. Now, go dust off that lonely crock pot and get cooking!

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