One-Pot Dinners

Let’s be honest…half of the stress around dinner is figuring out what to make, and the other half of the stress is the preparation and clean-up time. I’ve got some easy one-pot meals that can help lessen all of that stress!

In the spirit of the season, I figured that I would share some of my favorite crockpot meals. These two family favorites take minimal prep and are impossible to mess up! Seriously. I usually don’t even measure out most of the ingredients for either of these meals. They are foolproof and easy to modify! What makes them even better is the fact that all three of my kids devour these. Moms – if you know, you know. 

Alright, for the sake of everybody reading this, I’ll skip the Pinterest saga and skip to the good stuff! There’s no reason to paint you a picture of my aesthetically pleasing, perfectly-clean kitchen or describe the sweet aromas coming from the heart of my home that spark a sweet deja vu memory of our childhoods…because let’s be honest, none of that is close to the truth. Maybe someday, but with three boys at home between the ages of 3 and 9, there are no clean surfaces, and there sure aren’t any good-smelling aromas.

So, here we go!

First up is my version of Crockpot Chili – this one might be controversial because it includes beans. I don’t know if this is a topic that has the ability to spark war in other parts of the country or if that’s just a Texas thing? Regardless of the beans-no beans debate, this meal is delicious and packed with nutrients!

Crockpot Chili

What you’ll need:

  • 1 -1.5lb ground sirloin, turkey, beef, or chicken – (my personal faves are sirloin or turkey)
  • 1 can black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1 large can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 small bag frozen sweet corn
  • 1 bag chopped butternut squash
  • 1 -2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • ½-1 Tbsp dried oregano 
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin 
  • 1/2 Tbsp paprika 
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes (optional!)

How to make it: 

  1. Add all the above ingredients to your crockpot! No need to brown the meat first, it will cook perfectly. Set your crockpot on high for 4 hours, or low for 6, and done!
  2. When it’s done, serve with toppings of your choice! Cheese, sour cream, avocado, or whatever fat source you like, and enjoy! Your choice of these toppings is all you need to make this perfectly PHFF!

Next up is a lot less controversial, unless you are Italian. If you are, you might want to keep scrolling because I am about to recommend a crockpot cheat to a popular Italian dish…chicken alfredo.

This might not be made from scratch, but….This. Is. To. Die. For.

Chicken Alfredo

What you’ll need:

  • 2 lb chicken breast
  • 2 ½ c heavy cream
  • 2 c chicken broth 
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder or fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 c fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb pasta of choice*
  • Vegetables for a side or bag of fresh or frozen broccoli florets to add to the crockpot (I’ll explain!)

How to make it:

  1. Add chicken, and all other ingredients except for noodles and parmesan to your crockpot. Cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 5 hours. By this time the chicken should be fork-tender.
  2. Remove chicken from the crockpot and shred. With the chicken still outside of the crockpot, give your sauce a good mix.
  3. Once your sauce is mixed and the chicken is shredded, return chicken to crockpot and add uncooked pasta* and parmesan cheese and mix. Make sure that all of the noodles are submerged, cover with a lid, and cook for an additional 30 minutes. 

Tip: if your noodles are not completely covered they will not cook all the way! If you need more chicken broth, add a splash or two more. Remember, you can’t mess this up. so don’t overthink how much.

*If you are using regular or brown rice pasta, leave uncooked before you add to the crockpot! If using Banza or other lentil pasta, cook separately and then rinse before adding to crockpot. These noodles tend to make a foam while they boil and you don’t want this in your chicken and sauce mixture. 

After 30 minutes, check on your noodles, give everything a good stir, serve and enjoy! 

If you use lentil pasta then this meal is PHFF! If not, you’ll need to add some fiber to it. This can be done by serving it with a salad, asparagus, or whatever vegetable your family likes! I usually end up including a bag of broccoli florets to the crockpot at the same time that I add my pasta and parmesan cheese – if you like broccoli, you will love it this way!

Come fall, both of these are on dinner rotation just about every other week, which comes in handy on nights that we get home late from sports. These meals also make enough for leftovers that can be taken for lunch the next day or used to cover dinner for one more night – depending on your household’s appetites. And the best part, these both take 10 minutes or less to prepare and there’s no major cleanup!

I love cooking, but I am in a season of life where cooking just isn’t a realistic thing for me to do every night. So instead of putting pressure on myself to make an elaborate home-cooked meal every night, I incorporate meals like this at least once a week, if not twice, to ease up on that burden. I hope that these can help you as well! Be sure to let me know what you think!

– Your MM coach who aims to keep it simple, Brianna a.k.a TheMomminNutritionist

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