One of my favorite meal planning and prep strategies right now is to front-load the early days of the week with dinners that make lots of leftovers for later in the week. And my slow cooker is the best tool for getting this done: I can make a big batch of soup or cook a big roast while I'm at work on Monday, enjoy it for dinner that night, and then parcel it out for work lunches or use it up in dinner dishes the rest of the week.
These are 10 of my favorite slow cooker recipes that make Monday meal prep magic.
This golden, delicious soup is ideal for meatless Monday but also tastes even better the next day. Made from dried chickpeas and potatoes, it also uses pantry-friendly staples, so you can make it and eat it all week even if you didn't make it to the grocery store over the weekend.
I am low-key obsessed with this minestrone. Just look at those creamy butter beans! It is so easy to make and eat — you can use a ton of different vegetables and then top it with pesto or romesco so that no lunch-time bowl is really the same.
This is slow cooker meal prep at its finest. Cook russets or sweet potatoes in the slow cooker and eat them with butter, broccoli, and sour cream one evening. Then you can turn them into soup, tacos, or breakfast hash for the rest of the week.
Here's how this story goes: Stick a whole a chicken in the slow cooker with some vegetables and water and come home to an abundance of pull-apart chicken, flavorful broth, and tender vegetables. Now you've got soup for dinner, chicken parts for the week, and broth for the freezer depending on how you want split these dividends.
You knew there was going to be at least one chili on this list, because we both know that chilis are universally better as leftovers. This nice chicken chili is mild enough for young kids and packs perfectly for lunch.
There are many ways to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker, but this may be my favorite. Whole chicken in milk is fragrant with lemon, and eye-roll-worthy delicious. The leftovers make basically the best chicken salad in the world and I occasionally heat up a mug of the leftover cooking liquid to pour over a bowl of cornbread as a makeshift dinner side.
Just because this is a recipe for sandwiches doesn't mean that you have to put the ranch chicken and slaw on bread: Turn the leftovers into wraps, put them on top of a grain bowl, or add them to salad greens. This a family favorite.
Budget-saving beef and barley stew is comforting for Monday dinner, but also makes a hearty lunch. We've been known to tuck the leftovers into enchiladas later in the week, too.
Told you there was another chili here! Chili is proof that you should plan for leftovers. Remember those baked potatoes? Yes, they want to be smothered with chili too.
This recipe makes beautiful brisket and a heap of caramelized onions to boot. Eat the brisket straight up, then on sandwiches, then tacos, and turn the last little bits into soup.