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Gain Time With Your Slow Cooker

Here’s how to turn just minutes of meal prep in the morning into a tasty dinner at the end of the day.

Sometimes it’s exhausting just thinking about preparing a hot meal after a long day. But that’s when a slow cooker can come to your rescue! By doing just a little meal prep in the morning, you can have a delicious dinner waiting for you later—all you’ll have to do is set the table. Here are easy ideas to help you enjoy a hot dinner on even your busiest evenings.

Maximize morning minutes. Of course, most people’s mornings aren’t exactly leisurely either. That means that you need slow cooker recipes that you can put together fast. That’s why our recipes use some great shortcuts in terms of prep work. For instance, our Easy Slow-Cooker Beef Stew gets its flavor from KRAFT Italian Vinaigrette Dressing and KRAFT Original Barbecue Sauce, instead of a lot of individual herbs and spices. This means fewer ingredients and fewer measuring spoons to wash. (Every minute counts!)

Minimize prep work. You can also speed up prep time by looking for ingredients that are already cut into bite-size pieces, such as bagged julienned carrots or cubed stew meat. Canned legumes like black beans or lentils are easier to use than the dried kind, as are frozen chopped veggies like green beans.

Savor easy soup. Another way a slow cooker can save you time: You don’t need to precook pasta. In our Zesty Minestrone recipe, you add the uncooked macaroni shells about 10 minutes before serving the dish, and the pasta cooks right in the broth. In the meantime, you can go change out of your work clothes or send an e-mail to a friend.

Flex family dinner when needed. If your household eats in “shifts,” the slow cooker will keep everything nice and hot until the last family member is finished. So you can stay on your eating schedule—no matter what everyone else’s schedule happens to be.

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