Kids are out of school, and that surely means it’s a time for you to take a break of nine months of being a taxi driver for extracurricular activities or a school volunteer, right? Of course not. When summer break hits, you’re marching to a different rhythm—driving kids to and from summer camps, going on more daylong trips, or just scrambling to organize summer activity ideas to hold off kids from saying, “I’m bored!”
Basically, your kids may be getting a break from the summer, but your job has shifted to activities director—you are most likely just as busy as during the school year.
Good thing your slow cooker also doesn’t take a break either. This trusty appliance was most likely was your saving grace during the school year, cooking your family meal while you are gone all day and having it ready when you arrived home after work and picking up children. In the fall and winter months, a warm and hearty meal from the crock pot sure hit the spot after enduring brisk weather. Crockpots are great for cooking and keeping food warm on those winter days, but what about summer when a hot day calls for a cool drink or a crisp salad? Your slow cooker can cook up meals that are sure to hit the spot on summer months without you being stuck in the kitchen. Check out these crockpot tips to make summer cooking a little easier:
Barbeque
Summertime is all about cooking on the grill, but if you’re gone most of the day, firing up the grill for a quick meal may not always fit in your evening schedule. Luckily, there are many crockpot recipes that offer that summer barbeque taste without needing a grill. Many of these barbeque-like recipes simply involve marinating the meat in a sauce like mayonnaise, barbeque, or salad dressings.
For example, consider a recipe like Crock Pot Caesar Chicken: simply place four boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot, and set the crockpot on either high for three hours or low for six hours. After cooking the chicken for either three or six hours in the crockpot, drain the juices from the crockpot, keeping the chicken inside. Pour a bottle of Caesar salad dressing like Just Caesar from hampton creek on top of the chicken. Cover the crockpot and set it on high for 30 minutes. Top off with parmesan cheese and cut it up to serve with a salad or as a chicken salad.
The difference in Hampton Creek salad dressings and sauces is that they are made with minimal artificial additives and free of gluten, dairy, and soy. The company has other sauces like Just Mayo, an eggless mayonnaise, that you can use in other crockpot recipes that call for mayonnaise. Try replacing any crockpot recipe with a sauce or salad dressing from Hampton Creek.
Vegetables
Summer BBQ isn’t complete without a side of vegetables, especially corn on the cob. Corn is often boiled in a pot or cooked on the grill, but you can prepare corn on the cob ahead of time in a slow cooker so you have it ready when you get home.  One version of crockpot corn requires that you prep each ear of corn with garlic butter, pepper, salt, and wrap each ear with a slice of bacon. Place the ears of corn in a crockpot with chicken broth and minced jalapeno pepper. Cook on low for up to four hours.
Soup
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that you can’t eat soup. Soups are often thought of as hearty meals meant to warm you up after a cold day, but there are just as many soups that are light and flavorful, making it a perfect dish to enjoy on a hot summer day. It’s also a fun way to incorporate fresh vegetables from farmer’s markets, which most of the time are held during the warm months. A summer vegetable soup like a summer vegetable pesto soup makes use of summer vegetables like sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, and more, and tops it off with pesto. You can also add other vegetables like white beans for a different flavor.
Summer break from school doesn’t mean that parents also get a break, but summer crockpot recipes give you a break from the kitchen so you can spend your summer days doing what you want—going to the pool, attending the county fair, relaxing at the beach—without the worry of what you’re going to eat for dinner.