Crock-Pot Meals for Kids

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The seemingly endless versatility of the slow cooker makes it easy for you to customize meals to suit your kid’s tastes. Perennial favorites like pizza and chicken soup can be adapted for the crockery cooker on days you don’t have time to cook from scratch. Since you control the ingredients, dishes are usually healthier, and almost always more economical, than take-out meals.

Spice Up Your Pasta Dishes

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Gooey cheese, ground beef, tomato sauce and lasagna noodles combined in the slow cooker and cooked on low for four to six hours produces a hearty meal for a chilly evening. Add herbs to the sauce, but if your kids are onion or garlic averse, leave them out. Use a jarred spaghetti sauce if you’re pressed for time. Leave out the tomato sauce and ground beef, substitute elbow macaroni for the lasagna, and you’ve got mac and cheese. Add sliced ham toward the end of the cooking, and serve with a salad and bread for a complete meal. Make pizza pasta in the slow cooker by combining oven-ready lasagna noodles, broken up, pizza toppings and cheese.

Slow Cook Soups and Stews

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Customize chicken noodle soup in the slow cooker by using vegetables you know your kids will like. Put chicken breasts in the pot, add cut-up vegetables like carrots and celery, cover with chicken broth and let cook on low for six or seven hours. Take the chicken out, dice it and add egg noodles to the slow cooker. When the noodles are done, put the chicken back in the pot. Chili, with or without beans, is a fun snack when poured into an open, snack size bag of corn chips. If you’re using dry beans instead of canned, soak them first for eight hours, or overnight, to reduce some of the intestinal discomfort associated with beans.

Comfort Food: Meaty Main Dishes

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Pot roast is Sunday dinner in many American homes. The combination of juicy beef and seasoned vegetables, accompanied with tender potatoes, defines comfort food. Brown the beef before putting it in the slow cooker, add vegetables, seasonings and beef broth, and let it cook for about eight hours. Leave out the vegetables to make Philly cheesesteak subs. When the beef is done, slice it thin across the grain and serve on a crunchy bun with cheese and caramelized onions. Boneless pork loin is remarkably versatile. You can buy it pre-seasoned, or season it to your kids’ taste. It typically takes less time to cook than beef, about four or five hours, and can be shredded for pulled pork sandwiches.

Serve a Hearty Casserole

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Hash brown casseroles work as a breakfast dish, brunch or casual dinner. Combine frozen hash browns with cooked ham or sausage, onion and bell pepper if your kids like them, and cheddar cheese. Whisk together eggs and milk and pour over the hash browns. Cook the dish for three or four hours, or until the eggs are set. If you’re using sausage, cook it first, otherwise the casserole will be greasy. When your kids are pining for the holidays, re-create Thanksgiving dinner by placing boneless turkey breast in the bottom of the slow cooker and covering it with seasoned stuffing mixed according to the package directions. Add creamed soup or chicken broth to keep the turkey moist and cook for four to six hours.

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