50 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes
When it comes to culinary convenience, slow cookers always take first place. After all, being able to leave your crock pot recipes to cook unsupervised is beyond favorable in just about every busy household. But practicality isn't the only reason you should be using this magical machine. (And if you don't already own one, be sure to buy the best crock pot.)
While slow cookers are the perfect accessory to whip up meals that help you trim down, they also work wonders when you want to widen your wallet. Take short ribs, for example. They're one of the cheapest cuts of meat, but because they take such a long time to cook, restaurants will upcharge over 500 percent! Why pay extra for a dish you can simmer while you sleep?
That's why we curated a list of slow-cooker meals that are not only cheap, but they're also easy, versatile, and can be enjoyed all year round and for every meal. Don't believe us? Take a look for yourself. Let these recipes sit and simmer all day so you can focus on more important things, like incorporating these best ways to boost your metabolism into your routine.
Having family over for a weekend brunch? Want a ready-to-eat, well-balanced breakfast on a Wednesday? Throw one of these in a slow cooker after dinner and wake up to a belly-warming meal.
CROCK-POT CREAMY BANANA FRENCH TOAST
Nutrition per 2 slice serving: 394 calories, 17 g carbs (5.5 g saturated fat), 406 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (4 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 11 g protein
Turns out monkeys are definitely onto something. From soothing your muscles, increasing happiness, promoting digestion, aiding sleep, fighting bloat, and stabilizing blood sugar to battling cancer, bananas are a food you want to consume every day. And what better way than with this satiating french toast?
Get the recipe from Diethood.
Peaches and Cream Steel-Cut Oats
Nutrition: 300 calories, 20 g fat (16 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (5 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 3 g protein
Country pie turned breakfast: this naturally sweet oatmeal will feel indulgent while still satisfying all our healthy eating criteria. It's high in gut-healthy fiber, low in sugar, and full of healthy coconut milk saturated fats that have been shown to improve cholesterol profiles.
Get the recipe from The Healthy Maven.
HEALTHY CROCKPOT BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
Nutrition per slice: 320 calories, 13 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 341 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 22 g protein (calculated without salt)
When hash browns, egg, broccoli, bacon, and cheddar cheese combine, it's bound to be palatably epic.
Get the recipe from Apple Of My Eye.
Nutrition: 287 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat) 182 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (6 g fiber, 12 g sugar) 12 g protein (calculated using nonfat milk and only 2 dates)
How often do you run out of time for a healthy breakfast before work? Whether you skip it altogether or opt for an unhealthy option on your way, this recipe will solve all your breakfast problems! After slow-cooking the quinoa overnight, your breakfast is waiting for you when you get up. Instead of the four dates this recipe asks for, we cut it down to two to slash your sugar intake in half since dates are one of the healthy foods to eat in moderation.
Get the recipe from My Whole Food Life.
Healthy Banana Bread
Nutrition: 150 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat) 154 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 5 g protein (calculated without optional honey)
Banana bread isn't healthy? Think again. This recipe increases the protein and fiber count by using a fiber-rich whole grain like oats rather than refined sugar flour. The only thing better than that is that you can whip up this breakfast bread in your slow cooker.
Get the recipe from The Nut Butter Hub.
Hot Chocolate Oatmeal
Nutrition: 280 calories, 18 g fat (13.5 g saturated fat), 312 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (9 g fiber, 7g sugar), 10 g protein
Dessert for breakfast, anyone? Unlike other sweet breakfast options that might be high in sugar and nothing else, this dish has tons of satiating fiber and protein to keep you going all day. Also, cocoa is anti-inflammatory and has been found to improve cardiovascular health.
Get the recipe from Oatmeal with a Fork.
Slow Cooker BANANA BREAD QUINOA
Nutrition per ¾ cup serving: 250 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 51 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 8 g protein
From protein-packed quinoa, potassium-rich bananas, heart-healthy walnuts, and bone-strengthening low-fat milk—this is one banana bread-inspired dish you don't have to feel guilty about.
Get the recipe from Nutrition For Us.
Are you as sick of baked chicken breasts as everyone else? Whip up one of these hands-off flavorful dishes instead and fall in love again with America's favorite protein.
Dairy-Free Butter Chicken
Nutrition: 337 calories, 16 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 207 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (5 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 26 g protein
You normally wouldn't expect a recipe with butter in the name to be diet-friendly, but this dairy-free chicken dish is a low-cal and low-fat alternative to the traditional version. It's also packed with vitamins A, C, and B6, the last of which is an important micronutrient which keeps your brain focused and energized.
Get the recipe from Nutrition in the Kitch.
Maple Herb Butter Turkey Breast
Nutrition: 322 calories, 15.6 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0.3 g trans fat) 505 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 28 g protein
Are you a deli meats fanatic? A scary reality is that most brands are super processed and include dangerous nitrates. Instead, make this healthy turkey recipe in your slow cooker for dinner and use the leftovers for next day's club sandwich.
Get the recipe from A Kitchen Addiction.
CROCK-POT TERIYAKI CHICKEN
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 285 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 607 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 35 g protein (calculated with ½ cup lower sodium soy sauce and brown rice)
Teriyaki chicken is one of the most popular Japanese dishes; however, thanks to the sodium in soy sauce and the sugar that's added, it's not always weight loss friendly. But not to worry, we found a way for you to still get your fix with this crock-pot version, subbing in low sodium soy sauce and natural, calorie-free sugar from the stevia plant. Plus, it's got a whopping 35 grams of muscle-building, belly-filling protein. Dig in.
Get the recipe from Yummy Healthy Easy.
SLOW COOKER ITALIAN CHICKEN AND POTATOES
Nutrition (per 4 oz chicken and ½ cup potato serving): 308 calories, 15 g fat (2.9 g saturated fat), 84 mg sodium, 15.8 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1.2 g sugar), 28 g protein (calculated without salt)
Consuming ample amount of protein can boost your metabolism by as much as 30 percent! And according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Physiology—Endocrinology and Metabolism, participants who ate twice as much protein as the Recommended Daily Allowance had greater net protein balance and muscle protein synthesis, making it easier to build and maintain lean muscle. Aim to consume around 25-30 grams per meal AKA the amount this delicious meal dishes up.
Get the recipe from The Recipe Critic.
CROCKPOT QUINOA CHICKEN PRIMAVERA
Nutrition per 1 cup serving: 314 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 361 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (5 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 25 g protein
From asparagus, quinoa and chicken to garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon and pine nuts, this recipe is brimming with superfoods. It's got the nutritional profile to keep you shimming into your skinny jeans and the flavor to keep your tastebuds buzzing. And did we mention it's an exceptionally balanced meal?
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
SLOW COOKER BUFFALO CHICKEN SWEET POTATO
Nutrition (per potato with 2 tbsp dressing): 213 calories, 9 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 566 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar) 8 g protein (calculated without salt)
With slow-digesting, belly-flattening sweet potatoes, protein-packed chicken and calorie-scorching hot sauce, this recipe is weight loss Godsend. And don't even think about skipping the Greek yogurt topping because according to research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, participants who consumed regularly consumed the tart stuff as part of their diet lost 22 percent more weight and an incredible 81 percent more belly fat than their fellow calorie cutters.
Get the recipe from Well Plated.
Nutrition: 341 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 267 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (9 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 30 g protein
These lettuce tacos are about to transform your Taco Tuesday. Chopped onion, chicken breast, corn, black beans and tomato tossed in taco seasoning, left to cook for 4 hours and then scooped into lettuce boats—dinner doesn't get much easier than that. And copious amounts of belly-filling fiber and satiating protein, this one will keep you out of the fridge before bed.
Get the recipe from Pink When.
Tomato Basil Pulled Chicken
Nutrition: 242 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 373 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (0 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 39 g protein
One serving of this chicken is low in calories, fat and sugar. In the slow cooker, this dish cooks for 6-8 hours, meaning you can leave it cooking while you're at work and come home to a hot, delicious and nutritious main course to pair with a quick side salad.
Get the recipe from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.
Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken
Nutrition: 339 calories, 13.8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 876 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 47 g protein
This roast chicken recipe is a dinner go-to. The meat gets ultra tender and juicy in the slow cooker before the outside crisps up in the oven, creating the perfect chicken harmony. At only 339 calories, this dish has a whopping 47 grams of protein—almost an entire day's worth! Another vital nutrient this dish provides is niacin, great for reducing heart disease, lowering cholesterol, increasing hair growth and even your libido!
Get the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.
BBQ Chicken Quinoa
Nutrition: 485 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 680 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (7 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 35 g protein
We may love BBQ, but few enjoy flipping meat over scorching hot coals. Instead, throw some quinoa and chicken into a slow cooker and you'll get a meal as delicious, but even more nutritious.
Get the recipe from Whole Yum.
Chicken Burrito Bowls with Sweet Potato Rice
Nutrition: 290 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 854 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (10 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 20 g protein
Cauliflower rice you may have tried, but how about sweet potato rice? Apparently, spiralizers aren't only for noodles! By pulsing the spiralized sweet potato in a food processor, this blogger turns it into a rice-consistency that works as a healthy substitute in a burrito bowl. If you don't eat meat, the blogger shares this can be easily made vegetarian by replacing chicken with spiralized bell pepper.
Get the recipe from Inspiralized.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Nutrition: 424 calories, 15 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 651 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (2 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 29 g protein
Lower your carb intake by swapping out blood-sugar-spiking flour tortillas for romaine lettuce. The addition adds a refreshing crispness to the dish.
Get the recipe from Cooking Classy.
Nutrition per 1-⅓ cup serving: 382 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 198 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 51 g protein (calculated with low-calorie coconut milk)
Curry has one spice to thank for its bold color: turmeric. Recent research shows this "super spice" may be an effective treatment for brain disease, may help to both prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease, and is a potent anti-inflammatory food.
Get the recipe from in Sonnets Kitchen.
5-INGREDIENT HONEY SRIRACHA CHICKEN
Nutrition: 202 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 832 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (0 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 23 g protein (calculated with 1/4 cup low sodium tamari and 1/4 cup Sriracha)
This high protein, low calorie meal will torch fat with its spicy flavors. We're not just saying that. The spiciness in hot foods comes from a compound called capsaicin, which has been proven to boost metabolic rate, reduce belly fat and suppress appetite.
Get the recipe from Fit Foodie Finds.
Nutrition: 224 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 30 g protein (calculated without salt)
The only way to make fajitas quicker and simpler? This slow cooker version that's low in calories and high in protein and flavor. This Mexican dish is sure to sizzle more than just your taste buds.
Get the recipe from Cooking Classy.
Nutrition per 1 cup serving: 280 calories, 10.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 116 mg sodium, 13.8 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8.3 g sugar), 31.2 g protein
This recipe combines balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, rosemary, and pomegranate seeds to create a bittersweet, sex-enhancing dish. Hold on—did we just say sex-enhancing? Why, yes, we did. Truth be told, a recent study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found that pomegranates increase virility and improve erectile dysfunction due to their rich antioxidant content, which supports blood flow. For more foods that increase sexual desire, don't miss these 20 Foods to Supercharge Your Sex Drive.
Get the recipe from Foodie Crush.
SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN
Nutrition per .8 cup serving: 387 calories, 16 g fat (3.6 g saturated fat), 469 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10.8 g sugar), 35 g protein (calculated with low sodium soy sauce)
Do your body a favor and skip the Chinese takeout. This homemade version of your favorite dish is much slower in sodium. In fact, an order of Sweet and Sour Chicken from PF Chang's contains double the salt. But the savings don't stop there–this dish also has 383 fewer calories, 66 fewer grams of carbs and half the fat.
Get the recipe from Simple Green Moms.
Beef & Pork Entrees
For extra bold flavor, try one of these decadent meals.
CHUCK ROAST WITH BALSAMIC AND DIJON
Nutrition (per 1.25 cup serving): 355 calories, 13.2 g fat (3.2 g saturated fat), 766 mg sodium, 7.8 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 47 g protein (calculated with low sodium broth)
Balsamic vinegar is more than a base for your go-to dressing. It's packed with cancer-slaying antioxidants, reduces pain, promotes digestion, helps manage diabetes, and even decreases the risk for heart attack. You've probably never thought to add it to your meat and potatoes, but this hearty meal just might change your mind.
Get the recipe from The Wicked Noodle.
CLEAN EATING TURKEY CHILI
Nutrition (1.25 cup serving): 296 calories, 2.6 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 42.8 g carbs (11 g fiber, 5.2 g sugar), 28 g protein
The superfood in this "clean eating" AKA whole food chili is the waist-cinching black bean. Aside from their impressive fiber and protein counts, black beans boast anthocyanins or antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. Get smarter and thinner with one steamy bowl.
Get the recipe from Dear Crissy.
SLOW COOKER MEATBALL SUBS
Nutrition (per ½ sub sandwich): 253 calories, 8.5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 237 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (2.5 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar), 18.5 g protein (calculated with part-skim mozzarella and no salt)
There's a lot to love about meatball subs–they're saucy, cheesy and delicious. And thanks to tomato sauce, packed with an antioxidant called lycopene that lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, skin damage and cancer. The best part? Unlike most nutrients in fresh produce, lycopene actually increases after cooking. Pair ½ a sub with a tossed salad to boost your antioxidant intake even more and whittle your waist!
Get the recipe from Rick On The Rocks.
SLOW COOKER MAPLE BROWN SUGAR HAM
Nutrition (per 4 oz serving): 187 calories, 5.1 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 701 mg sodium, 13.3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 22 g protein (calculated with low sodium ham)
Ham is an Easter staple so make sure you opt for a reduced sodium to avoid a bulging belly, migraine and dry throat. This recipe is the perfect combo of salty and sweet and at just 187 calories a serving, it won't derail your body goals.
Get the recipe from Damn Delicious.
SLOW COOKER MEATLOAF
Nutrition (per 3 oz slice with 1/2 cup potatoes and carrots): 321 calories, 7.6 g fat (2.8 g saturated fat), 574 mg sodium, 31.1 g carbs (4 g fiber, 9.5 g sugar), 31.3 g protein (calculated with lean ground beef)
While it doesn't always assume the best reputation, lean ground beef can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Aside from delivering amino acids that build lean muscle, boost your metabolism and keep you fuller longer, beef contains a plethora of vital nutrients that support blood formation, as well as brain and nervous system function. Limit your intake to 3 ounces a week and always opt for grass-fed varieties.
Get the recipe from Cincy Shopper.
PULLED PORK SLIDERS
Yields: 12 sliders
Nutrition per slider: 320 calories, 8.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 329 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 35 g protein (calculated with whole wheat slider buns)
Each Pulled Pork Sliders is just 320 calories and boasts a whopping 35 grams of muscle-building protein. But while they may be mini and less calorically dense alone, they're not so innocent after two or three. So be sure to watch your portion control.
Get the recipe from What's Gaby Cooking.
Carnitas Taco Bites
Nutrition: 383 calories, 14.1 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 131 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (5 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 30 g protein
These protein-packed taco bites in homemade tortilla cups look almost too good to eat! Serve them as a main course or let guests grab one as an appetizer. After slow-cooking on low for 12 hours with orange juice, onion, jalapeno peppers, garlic and bay leaf, you can be sure this shredded pork will wow your taste buds.
Get the recipe from A Beautiful Plate.
Nutrition per ¾ cup serving: 495 calories, 34 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 598 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (0 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 26 g protein
Besides the fact that these ribs are downright delicious, here's another excuse to try this recipe: they could help you fight skin cancer. A Dermatology University of Sydney in Australia study found that people who take vitamin B3 supplements cut their risk of skin cancer recurrence by 23 percent in just one year. A 6-ounce half-rack serving of ribs provides about 10 mg of B3, or half your daily value for the vitamin (and even more if you choose a leaner cut).
Get the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.
SPICY HAWAIIAN CARNITAS TACOS
Nutrition per cup serving: 292 calories, 7.3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 419 mg sodium, 28.6 g carbs (3.3 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar), 28.1 g protein (calculated with whole grain tortillas)
Cancel your tickets to someplace tropical and try these tacos instead. These Spicy Hawaiian Carnitas Tacos will transport your taste buds to paradise. And with metabolism-boosting and fat-blasting cayenne, cancer-fighting pork and energy-boosting pineapple, you'll be doing right by your body too.
Get the recipe from Real Food By Dad.
CROCK-POT PINEAPPLE BARBECUE PORK CHOPS
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 336 calories, 9.5 g fat (3.2 g saturated fat), 155 mg sodium, 15.2 g carbs (1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 44.4 g protein
Just because it's not quite time to fire up the grill for a BBQ, doesn't mean you can't create your favorite warm-weather meal which also doubles as one of our go-to crock pot recipes. These lean pork chops are topped with inflammatory-fighting pineapple, immunity-boosting onion and a savory homemade barbecue sauce.
Get the recipe from Diethood.
Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu
Nutrition: 540 calories, 26 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 33 g protein
You probably see braised short ribs fetching a $20 or more price tag on menus these days. But what if we told you that high cost is just because it takes restaurants a long time to cook the ribs? Short ribs are actually one of the cheapest cuts of meat. They require a long cooking time because they're quite fibrous. Don't bother spending money eating out when you can whip up this unctuous recipe just as well at home.
Get the recipe from Running to the Kitchen.
Slow Cooker Carnitas
Nutrition per ½ cup serving: 264 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 33 g protein
Whip up a batch of this carnitas recipe, and use it all week to make lunch. Burrito bowls one day, stuffed peppers the next, and even a tortilla soup! See how we used this recipe as a base for an entire week of meals in week 3 of our month of super-healthy lunches under 400 calories.
Get the recipe from Carlsbad Cravings.
No need to waste time waiting for a pot of water to boil. Make your favorite pasta recipes in a slow cooker while you're at work!
SKINNY VEGGIE LASAGNA
Nutrition: 400 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 39 g carbs (4 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 27 g protein (calculated with whole wheat lasagna noodles, reduced sodium tomato sauce, and part-skim mozzarella)
Sure, the two words skinny and lasagna aren't typically found in the same phrase, but we guarantee that's what this recipe is. Rich in flavor and low in calories, you can consume a hearty slice of this lasagna without breaking your calorie or carb bank.
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Turkey Mushroom Bolognese
Nutrition: 193 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0.1 g trans fat), 977 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar) 17 g protein
This healthy bolognese recipe replaces typical beef and pancetta with turkey and mushrooms, but this low-calorie option keeps all the flavor.
Get the recipe from Feasting at Home.
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN LO MEIN NOODLES
Nutrition (per one cup serving): 188 calories, 1.8 g fat (< 1 g saturated fat), 426 mg sodium, 35.2 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5.4 g sugar), 7.5 g protein
One order of chicken lo mein from your local Chinese takeout restaurant can wipe out nearly a day's worth of sodium—which would be okay if you weren't planning on eating anything else. Odds are you'd like to try one of these healthy breakfast ideas, so make this crockpot version instead.
Get the recipe from Life Made Sweeter.
CROCK-POT BOLOGNESE WITH ZUCCHINI NOODLES
Nutrition: 221 calories, 9.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (4 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 21 g protein
Zoodles are a diet hack that is guaranteed to aid rapid weight loss. You get a pasta dish filled with all the rich, meaty flavor from the sauce, but for a fraction of the calories and carbs of a standard bowl. Dieting doesn't get much better than that.
Get the recipe from Cook Eat Paleo.
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Nutrition: 236 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 120 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 25 g protein
Following the vegetable-replacing-pasta trend, this blogger uses butternut squash slices to replace noodles in lasagna, making the dish's vitamin A and K counts skyrocket. Be cautious when shopping for ingredients, making sure your choice of beef and ricotta cheese are of the low-fat variety.
Get the recipe from Foraged Dish.
Lean and Clean Stuffed Bell Peppers
Nutrition: 300 calories, 11 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 465 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (6 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 25 g protein (calculated with ground chicken, low-sodium vegetable broth, quinoa and canned tomatoes)
The fact that you get to eat a day and a half's worth of vitamin C in one bell pepper isn't just great because it helps to fend off the stress hormone, cortisol. The antioxidant vitamin will also help you trim down by taming insulin levels that tell your body to store fat. These fat-fighters just happen to be a delicious vessel for holding perfectly seasoned bison, brown rice, and diced tomatoes.
Get the recipe from Kim's Cravings.
Trim down your belly while fattening up your wallet with these veggie-based dishes.
Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole
Nutrition: 444 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 760 mg of sodium, 47 g carbs (11 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 25 g of protein (calculated with salsa and chipotle chile powder)
With almost a day's recommended fiber and half a day's protein, pack this dish for lunch to combat late-afternoon hunger. With the plethora of great nutrients, it's still pretty high in sodium, so be cautious when picking out cheese and any canned items that can have excessive salt content hiding on the label. Going dairy-free? Easily make this dish vegan by subbing in a pea protein and coconut oil-based vegan cheese, such as Daiya brand, or omitting altogether.
Get the recipe from Running in a Skirt.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
Nutrition: 154 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 428 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (4 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 6 g protein
Whether you stopped eating meat or just want a healthier option, this recipe for sloppy joes will leave you in awe at how much lentils can mimic the taste and consistency of beef. Almost fat-free, this dish is low-cal and full of important nutrients—it has more than a day's worth of vitamin A! This blogger suggests eating it in a spaghetti squash bowl if you're trying to eat fewer carbs.
Get the recipe from Simply Quinoa.
Barley Bean Tacos
Nutrition: 150 calories, 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 86 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 7 g protein (calculated without optional toppings)
Take a break from the pork and chicken with these barley and bean tacos. A whole grain, barley will help suppress your appetite due to its high levels of soluble fiber (the kind that's sure to keep you fuller longer). And did we mention that an American Society for Microbiology study found that barley can improve cholesterol levels and help maintain friendly bacteria in the digestive system? Color us impressed!
Get the recipe from Cook Nourish Bliss.
If you're going to be working the grill all afternoon or plan on serving a crowd, you don't want to have to worry about what you're pairing with your protein. Let the slow cooker do all the work with these delicious, waistline-friendly sides.
Vegan White Bean Mashed Potatoes
Nutrition: 290 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 344 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (8 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 11 g protein
The internet is overflowing with slow cooker mashed potato recipes. Unfortunately, most are lacking in nutrition and overflowing with fats. This recipe is low-fat, replacing butter with almond milk (learn how easy it is to make your own here!) With added protein from the beans, this dish is tasty as well as satisfying.
Get the recipe from Cotter Crunch.
CROCK-POT CAULIFLOWER AND CHEESE
Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 194 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 464 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 18 g protein
Aside from the obvious cutting of carbs, replacing noodles with cauliflower adds over a ⅓ of your daily serving of potassium and over two days worth of vitamin C–two nutrients that play key roles in muscle function, heart health, immunity and weight loss. Any reservations you have about taste will be quickly be dismissed. The cruciferous veg adapts to whatever ingredients it's combined with—in this case, milk, paprika and cheese–flawlessly.
Get the recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen.
SLOW COOKER PEAR SAUSAGE STUFFING
Nutrition: 187 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 289 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (5 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 8 g protein
Despite popular belief, stuffing isn't just for Thanksgiving. And once we saw this salty and sweet version, we were pretty much smitten–especially considering pears are involved. At just 100 calories, the hourglass fruit contains 6 grams of gut-friendly soluble fiber, called pectin that attracts water and turns to gel, slowing digestion. Pair this slimming side dish with one of our best proteins for weight loss!
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Desserts & Baked Goods
Slow cookers aren't just for meaty meals! Check out these sweet treats you can set and forget.
SLOW COOKER SUGARED NUTS
Nutrition per 1 oz serving: 200 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 24 mg sodium, 7 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 4 g protein
Loaded with healthy fats that lower cholesterol and inflammation, nuts are the ultimate weight loss food. They're a great snack to put in your bag to bring to work, but they can get boring after a while. This recipe fixes that. Toss them in a slow cooker with some spices, toast 'em up, and you'll put a little extra spark in your office snacks.
Get the recipe from Chelsea's Messy Apron.
CROCK-POT BLUEBERRY CRISP
Nutrition per 1 cup serving: 215 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (4 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 3 g protein
Blueberries do everything from fight heart disease, lower blood pressure, and boost brain function to increase weight loss. In fact, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when it comes to how to lose belly fat, consuming the tiny blue fruit is a major key. After a 90-day trial, they discovered that rats fed a blueberry-enriched diet showed significantly reduced abdominal belly fat than the control group. Get your blueberry on with this guilt-free dessert.
Get the recipe from Diethood.