Now that I have 'mostly' normal people hours, this leaves me time during the day to plan out meals that can be prepared quickly for when The Hubby gets home from work and I'm AT work. With a little prep and time, you can get what you need to get done around the house and feed the family at the same time without breaking a sweat, or the piggy bank.
The crockpot is one of our staple kitchen accessories around here obviously, just like Ronco says 'set it and forget it'. But what are you going to put IN it?
Beans are a big hit around here obviously, they're cheap, nutritious and filling and definitely Wee Man approved. At least 1 meal a week here is of the bean family. We buy the large bags of dried beans (pintos, northern, etc) rinse out about a pound and a half of them, dump them in the crockpot with about 6 to 8 cups of water, toss in half a package of ham pieces (for seasoning) as one full package is plenty to season two pots of beans. Set on low for 8-10 hours and voila!
The upfront cost for the beans will vary with type of bean and where you live but a 5 lb bag of pinto or northern beans typically runs us about 4 to 6 dollars, the ham pieces run about 1.99 a package here. The full pot will general make at least 2 meals worth with second helpings included, so you can have dinner one night and lunch the next day for a fraction of the cost.
We also typically serve some sort of cornbread or potatoes with this as well, which is perfect for these cold chilly nights.
So with a little thinking ahead dinner doesn't have to be a hassle. Trust me on this.