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5 Fall Meal Prep Ideas for Your Slow Cooker

It’s autumn, and that means it’s time to get your meal prep in full gear. There’s a chill in the air, the days are getting darker, and the calendar is remarkably full. Slow cookers are the workhorses that make dinner a breeze. Here are five ways to use this staple tool to make dinner while you’re away from the kitchen.


Whether you like traditional chili or a white chicken version, the slow cooker is the easiest way to prep chili for a weekday dinner, game day, or potluck. Here’s a basic chili recipe anyone can throw in the slow cooker.

  • 1 pound of ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1-2 cans of beans of your choice – black, pinto or kidney
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning of your choice

Add water or broth to your liking to thin your chili. Serve with toppings like sliced green onions, diced avocado, and corn chips.


Pork tenderloin, pork shoulder, or pork loin are all cuts of meat that make a nice batch of carnitas that can be filling for tacos and burritos or topped on a bowl with vegetables, rice, and toppings. 

  • 2 pounds of pork
  • 2 Tbsp of chili lime seasoning
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar or two (7-ounce) cans of tomatillo salsa

Generously season pork with salt, pepper, chili, and lime seasoning. Place in the slow cooker, add onions and garlic, and cover with salsa. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Barbeque Chicken

Use a couple of pounds of chicken thighs or breasts and your favorite bottle of barbeque sauce (or homemade version) to make an easy batch of barbeque chicken —no recipe required. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, then remove, let cool, and shred. Use shredded chicken throughout the week to make barbeque sandwiches, quesadillas, or barbeque chicken pizza.

Border Beans

Slow-cooked beans can be a side dish or a main dish, depending on your meal plans for the week. Either way, having a low-cost, wholesome ingredient to pull out and use in several ways will boost your meal-prepping options.

Soak dried beans overnight before putting them in the slow cooker.  

  • 1 pound of pinto beans
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound of uncooked sliced bacon, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 Tbsp of chili powder
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. If you like having fresh refried beans on hand, blend or food process the cooked beans and add your favorite spices.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Lentils, a legume, are a good source of fiber, protein, and B vitamins. They are inexpensive and pair well with vegetables. Lentil soup with tomatoes, carrots, and Italian spices is a classic combination that tastes great on a cool night with a slice of crusty sourdough bread.

  • 1 16-ounce package of lentils
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4-5 carrots chopped
  • 3-4 celery ribs chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours or until lentils are cooked—top lentil soup with freshly grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, and chopped fresh basil or parsley.

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