Food

Child eating spaghetti made from slow cooker
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These Slow Cooker Recipes Will Save You Precious Time On School Nights

Instead of stirring sauce, you can stew over your kid’s math homework.

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I absolutely savor the dog days of summer when later bedtimes and all-day snacking means that the rush to make dinner is not quite as imperative as it is during the school year, but reality definitely sets in each August. This list of slow cooker recipes for school nights can make your life just a little easier when the daily grind of the school year resumes and your kids are hangry at exactly 5 p.m. on the dot each day.

Now, keep in mind, the goal here is to make putting dinner on the table as easy and delicious as possible. The prep time on most of these recipes is at a minimum. 10 minutes is ideal, although sometimes the chopping of veggies may add a few minutes. Consider that time well spent for the added nutrition it will put in your kids’ bodies. (Time-saving tip: Spring for pre-cut, frozen veggies when you can.)

Speaking of kids, I also tried to find recipes that appeal to tiny palates. A weeknight, after a trying day of lessons — whether from school or home — might not be the best time to introduce your kiddo to kielbasa sauerkraut. At least my picky eater wouldn’t touch it.

So here goes, a crowd-pleasing lists to get you through the school-year hurdles.

1

Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken Chili

Let's hear it for chili. This one pot meal is quick in a pinch but hearty enough to keep the troops going. But it doesn't have to be blah. Not with The Crepes of Wrath's recipe. Start it in the wee hours, you know, when you actually have a sec to yourself and your kids haven't started bugging you for help with their math yet. Then let it cook for 10 hours.

2

Crock-Pot Beef Stew

If you ask me, there can never be enough recipes for crockpot beef stew. It is the ultimate fall comfort food, best served after a chilly day visiting the pumpkin patch. Since many parents will be organizing their kids' field trips alone this year, sweeten the deal with this post-patch feast.

3

Slow Cooker Hot Dogs

You know what, some days you just need a super easy recipe to feed many mouths and this one is about as simple as it gets: slow cooker hot dogs. If you have a big family or just some big time eaters (or you want to also make tomorrow's lunch while preparing dinner), you can cook a batch of hot dogs in bulk using Fit Slow Cooker Queen's crock pot hack and have dinner on the table in the time it takes kids to shut down their homeschool computers, put away their homework, and wash their hands.

4

Sweet Potato Spinach Curry

Vegan friendly and packed with flavor, this curry is the way to get your kids full of veggies without them realizing it. Cook Nourish Bliss says you just need to give yourself 20 minutes to grate and chop the goodies, then pop it in the pot for eight hours for all of those flavors to meld.

5

Slow Cooker Shrimp Boil

Guys, let me tell you about shrimp boils. They are the most fun you can have eating in the South. But you don't always have time to set up a huge board to have a communal outdoor shrimp boil. This Damn Delicious recipe satisfies the hankering though. Get your Old Bay ready, then get all your goodies— potatoes, shrimp, sausage, corn, garlic, and onions — and let those beauties hangout together for 5 hours. Mmm, tastes like a perfect fall afternoon in the South.

6

Slow Cooker/Instant Pot Chunky Beef Chili

Low-carb, keto, paleo, and whole30, blogger Fit Slow Cooker Queen says this will cure your chili cravings without hurting your waistline. Which is a great thing since it can be hard to keep up with diet restrictions while feeding the whole family, but this flavor-packed meal is sure to please everyone.

7

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Peas & Pork Chop

Food blogger Simply LaKita put this black eyed pea recipe on her website as a New Year's recipe for good luck. But with school chaos back in session, I think we could all use some luck right now, and besides, black eyed peas are delicious. Complete with a slow cooked pork chop, this is a full meal deal that in just three hours.

8

Slow Cooker Asian-Style Ribs With Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle

You know what's hilarious? Watching little kids eat ribs. Sure, it's a mess, but if it breaks up the monotony of at-home learning, I'm here for it. To that end, might I suggest Climbing Grier Mountain's Asian-Style Ribs with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle? Baby-back ribs get a four-hour hot soak in your crock pot tub, then you dress them up with sesame sprinkle and voila, a fancy dinner that took just a bit of prep.

9

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Slow cookers are ideal for sating a pulled pork craving. The only catch? This is a two-day affair. You'll need to marinate your meat overnight for best results according to Wholefully.

10

Slow Cooker Sausage Stuffing

Stuffing for dinner? Skip the Stouffer's stovetop and go for the homemade version with this easy slow cooker take from Averie Cooks. This is one of those dishes that lets you use up stale bread while infusing your kitchen with the smells of sage and rosemary.

11

Slow Cooker Greek Gyro Bowls

I've already bookmarked this recipe to make next week. I find this especially appealing, because the bowl option allows you use choose couscous, as Climbing Grier Mountain suggests, or swap out your preferred starch, be it rice or quinoa. Plus, each diner can add or subtract exactly what they want in their own bowl so kids have a choice.

12

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Recipe

When the weather turns, it's Stroganoff season, baby. Is that just something we say in my house? Cool cool cool. So the reason I'm digging this slow cooker recipe from A Spicy Perspective is because it contains nearly all the mess to the slow cooker itself, something any struggling mom can appreciate. 20 minutes of prep, followed by six hours of cooking and you've got what looks like a gourmet meal.

13

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

The blogger behind Averie Cooks says this recipe reminds her of Panda Express Chinese Orange Chicken without any deep frying. Get that same flavor with just a 13-item ingredient list. Make life even easier for yourself by using a rice cooker and, bam, dinner.

14

Shredded Chicken Taco Salad

Basically, the goal of this Ari's Menu recipe is to make some super delicious chicken to serve up the perfect DIY dinner. Let your kids choose their own condiments — avocado, cheese, sour, cream, beans — and everyone will be happy.

15

Slow Cooker Cheddar & Ale Chicken Chowder

I may or may not have picked this A Pretty Life in the Suburbs Cheddar and Ale Chowder for the sheer advantage of having an excuse to swig a sip of Red Ale while checking on the cooking progress. I suspect I'm not the only parent who might need a sip to get them through virtual learning.

16

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Brown Eyed Baker has perfected this recipe for barbecue ribs to ensure fall-off-the-bone goodness and a gooey, saucy appeal that cannot be beat. These ribs can cook all day in your slow cooker, and then you can add simple side dishes (or use store bought to make it even faster) to round out your school night meal.

17

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

Soups are such an easy school night meal — especially when they're packed with flavorful protein and vegetables like this slow cooker white bean chicken chili by Baked By Rachel. This particular batch will make eight to 10 servings, so depending on the size of your family, you could potentially stretch this simple-to-make dish out over two nights.

18

Crock-Pot Sloppy Joes

There's a reason Sloppy Joes remain a home cooking staple and that's because they are easy to prepare and most kids can get onboard with them. A Pretty Life in the Suburbs' recipe just requires 10 minutes of slicing and dicing up an onion, carrot, and red pepper, then throwing it all into the pot for a six-hour simmer.

19

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Climbing Grier Mountain's slow cooker lasagna is not your traditional lasagna for two amazing reasons. First, it is made right in your Crock-Pot instead of the oven, and second, it features a creamy pumpkin sauce instead of the traditional tomato-based marinara found in most lasagna recipes. This is the perfect school night recipe for heading into the fall season.

20

Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is such a versatile school night meal staple. This pineapple and barbecue sauce version by Five Heart Home can simmer away in your Crock-Pot for the entire day before you serve it on a sandwich, a salad, or a baked potato, and watch your entire family ask for seconds.

21

Slow Cooker Tomato Tortellini Soup

If you have pasta or soup lovers in your house, this slow cooker tomato tortellini soup is one you're going to want to make over and over again. Baked By Rachel's recipe uses store-bought refrigerated cheese tortellini to create this filling soup that can be made right in your Crock-Pot.

22

Slow Cooker Curried Lentil Soup

My kids will absolutely devour curried anything, and this slow cooker curried lentil soup by A Beautiful Plate is certainly no exception. A combination of warming spices paired with lentils, onion, and carrots creates a soup that is hearty enough to enjoy a large bowl for a school night meal.

23

Crock-Pot Moroccan Chicken

Who says your school night dinners can't be adventurous? This moroccan chicken recipe by Cara's Cravings features chickpeas, dates, and raisins that combine right in your Crock-Pot with moroccan spices and chunks of chicken breast to create an easy and delicious one-pot meal.

24

Crock-Pot Whole Roasted Chicken

This completely hands-off approach to roasting a chicken in your Crock-Pot comes in handy for making multiple weeknight meals during the school year. Brown Eyed Baker suggests serving this chicken with mashed potatoes, and then using the leftovers to make tasty sandwiches and salads the next day.

25

Slow Cooker Shrimp Creole

I'm a sucker for any recipe that mentions "creole" in the title. This savory slow cooker shrimp dish by Climbing Grier Mountain is a bit on the spicy side, but can be easily made in your Crock-Pot on a school night and you can always adjust the heat level by adding a little less chili powder or hot sauce if your kids aren't as into heated dishes.

26

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

This recipe from Nellie Bellie for slow cooker orange chicken is the epitome of easy. It takes about four hours in the Crock-Pot to make a delicious meal that is much lighter than the takeout version of orange chicken. Simply serve over rice or steamed veggies and you're ready to enjoy a delicious school night meal.

27

Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas

This recipe for slow cooker steak fajitas from Brown Eyed Baker is perfect for when taco Tuesday rolls around, but you're too busy with PTA meetings and dance lessons to slave away in the kitchen. Simply toss the meat, onions, peppers, and spices into your Crock-Pot and forget about it until dinner time when you throw it on a tortilla and call it a meal.

28

Slow Cooker Sweet Chili Chicken Drumsticks

Here's another example of a main dish that is easy to make right in your Crock-Pot on a busy school night that can be served with simple sides to create an a amazing family meal. These sweet chili chicken drumsticks by Five Heart Home offer sweet and savory flavors your entire family will adore.

29

Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken & Potato Soup

This hearty soup by Baked By Rachel will keep your family's bellies full and their mouths thanking you for finding such a delicious recipe. The creamy deliciousness of this slow cooker chicken and potato soup simply cannot be beat for an easy school night dinner.

30

Slow Cooker Spaghetti With Meatballs

If you didn't already know that your Crock-Pot can make a fantastic batch of spaghetti and meatballs, this recipe by That's What Che Said will show you the way. This is a life-changing hack for busy parents who value eating a home cooked meal on school nights.

31

Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie

What’s even better than something quick and easy in the slow cooker for dinner? Something quick, easy, and comforting for your kids after a long day at school. This recipe for slow cooker chicken pot pie from A Cookie Named Desire checks all the boxes.

32

Slow Cooker Turkey French Dip Sandwiches

If you’re a sandwich-loving kind of family, this recipe for slow cooker turkey French dips from the Brown Sugar Food Blog looks incredible, not to mention easy. Simply let the turkey breast do its thing in the slow cooker for a couple of hours until it’s fork-tender, and then scoop generously onto toasty bread with a slice or two of cheese.

33

Slow Cooker New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

There is just something so comforting about a big, steamy bowl of beans and rice, no matter how it’s prepared. Cooks With Soul offers this simple-to-make red beans and rice recipe for busy school nights. It’s got all the flavor of New Orleans with a hearty helping of andouille sausage and comes together right in your Crock-Pot.

34

Slow Cooker Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

This recipe for slow cooker mushroom wild rice soup from Jessica In The Kitchen is a quintessential “set it and forget it” soup recipe that you can literally leave simmering away in your slow cooker all day. Then, when you’re ready to eat, simply stir in a creamy butter mixture to finish and serve.

35

Slow Cooker Maple Mustard Chicken

The sweetness of maple syrup balances out the flavor of tangy ingredients like dijon mustard and red wine vinegar in Fit Slow Cooker Queen’s recipe for slow cooker maple mustard chicken. It’s kid-friendly, paleo, and perfect for busy weeknights. The recipe also details how to make this tasty main course in your slow cooker or Instant Pot, so you’re covered if you need to use one over the other in a pinch.

36

Slow Cooker Pizza Soup

Can a dinner possibly get more kid-friendly than pizza? This recipe for slow cooker pizza soup from Baked By Rachel is potentially just that. Yes, it’s literally pizza ingredients, but in soup form, and it’s totally customizable to your family’s liking. This is the ultimate school night recipe.

37

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats With Apple & Cranberries

Breakfast for dinner is one of my all-time favorite ways to jazz up a weeknight. My kids just love it. Slow cooker steel cut oats with apple and cranberries from A Beautiful Plate is a recipe that’s hearty enough to stand alone as an easy school night dinner, but you could also serve it alongside some eggs or with toast to round out the meal.