One of the huge benefits of meal prepping as part of a meal planning routine is that it allows you to add long-cooking foods — like broths and braises — to your busy weeknight meals. We asked our Meal Plan Club contributors for their favorite slow cooker meal prep hacks and the results were surprising.
1. A Whole Chicken
The meal prep roast chicken is something of a classic, right? You can let it cook while you prep vegetables or salads for the week. But I personally find that my oven is pretty full during a meal prep session, so the fact that I can cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker while I roast vegetables or bake brown rice is a total game-changer for my own meal prep.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Not one, not two, but three meal planners swear by slow cooking sweet potatoes during meal prep. "If you make them in the slow cooker, you can literally set it and forget it, and return to perfectly cooked potatoes, every single time, without much work on your part," says Ashley Prado. Then you have ready-to-eat sweet potatoes to top for lunch or to blend into soup throughout the week.
Read more: How To Bake a Potato in the Slow Cooker
Janssen says it best: "Soup is one of the best things to make in the Crock-Pot and while I've used it for years to make soups for dinner, I recently started making lunch soups in it. I can toss everything in and then for the next few days, I have a delicious and healthy soup in the fridge ready to warm up for lunch. It's such a time saver and means that my lunches are something I really look forward to, especially in the winter!"
Our own Kelli Foster wrote this recipe for slow cooker granola. Here's what she has to say about it: "I don't make granola as often as I'd really like to, so when I do make it I love to double or sometimes even triple the recipe so it lasts a while longer. There are a couple hang-ups with this, though: Oven-cooked granola is best made when the ingredients are spread out in a layer across a baking sheet, so taking the big-batch approach requires you to have at least a few handy, followed by the even trickier task of attempting to fit multiple baking sheets in the oven. The slow cooker turns out to be the solution to both of those issues."
Yes, yes you can: How To Make Crunchy Granola in the Slow Cooker
Ghee in the slow cooker turned out to be a Whole30 revelation last January — and something that stuck with me through the rest of the year. Ghee is the meal prep magic to better sautés and quick pan sauces that makes the simplest weeknight dinners taste better.
Always have some on hand: How To Make Ghee Four Ways
Meal Plan Club with Kitchn
Meal Plan Club is our self-paced 4-week program full of educational posts, downloadable tools, and real-life sample meal plans where we'll walk you through each step of meal planning — from choosing recipes to meal prep and actually executing each meal — to make you a more confident meal planner in just one month. You can follow along here!