Slow Cooker Recipes For School Nights, Because Who Literally Has Any Time?
You may have spent the dog days of summer savoring the fact that later bedtimes and all-day snacking meant that the rush to make dinner was not as imperative as it is during the school year. While this is true, when the school year starts, it's back to the daily grind and your kids will inevitably be hangry at exactly 5 p.m. each day. Make your life just a little easier by making these slow cooker recipes for school nights and I promise your kids will love you for it.
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. Ten 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. 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. Give yourself 20 minutes to grate and chop the goodies, then pop it in the pot for 8 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 Post 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 to please everyone.
7. Slow Cooker Black Eyed Peas and 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? Babyback ribs get a 4 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. Twenty minute of prep, followed by 6 hours 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 virtually 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 6 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 killer 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.
This article was originally published on