My kitchen has been cluttered with every appliance possible over the years – various blenders, bread machines, a toaster oven, a food processor or two. If I had to choose between all my kitchen appliances, getting rid of all but one forever the choice would be easy. Living the unpredictable life of a volunteer firewife, sometimes I don't have time to prep and cook a full meal. The modern kitchen appliance that I can not live without is my…
Time after time my crockpot has saved me precious hours I would have otherwise spent cooking. I have an entire recipe box that holds only crockpot recipes. One of my top tips to new fire wives on our department is to buy a crockpot if they do not already have one. It is an invaluable convenience that lessens the stress of living the firelife.
Why the crockpot?
My answer is simple – flexibility
When your husband is a volunteer firefighter, your schedule can change at the drop of a hat, or tone. I may wake up Saturday morning anticipating having another set of hands to help me get the big kids to ball practices and entertain our three-year-old, allowing me to have time to set aside for household chores and dinner prep. But when the tones drop at 10 am for a structure fire and he's gone all afternoon, the entire day's schedule is dropped on me and I have to adapt. It's days like these that I reach for my crockpot recipes and throw something together. In 6 hours time, dinner is ready for me after I've shuttled kids around and powered through the dirty laundry pile.
Even on days where everything goes as planned and I am able to get dinner prepared, that doesn't mean my firefighter will be home to eat with us. Those tones drop at any time of the night or day. He also has other weekly obligations like business meetings, work nights and training. There were many nights in the beginning where I'd struggle to keep his dinner warm and ready for him whenever he would walk in the door. More often than not I cook with my crockpot because it allows me to keep his dinner warm and waiting for him.
The trick to being able to utilize your crockpot at the drop of the hat is to always have crockpot friendly ingredients on hand. Most meals can be adapted into a crockpot meal with the right ingredients and by adjusting the cook time.
What are crockpot friendly ingredients?
One of my favorite things to keep on hand is boneless chicken breasts for crockpot meals. Even from frozen, they cook nicely and in a decent amount of time. Chicken is so versatile – you can make a variety of meals to please any palate. Chicken tacos, shredded bbq chicken for sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, your options are endless.
A few other ingredients that I keep on hand for last minute crockpot meals are red potatoes, baby carrots, cream of mushroom soup, bbq sauce, salsa and taco seasoning, black beans, rice, and Italian dressing or seasoning. Stew meat and thicker cut pork chops are also good meat to keep on hand to throw in if you are in a pinch.
What modern appliance makes your life as a firewife easier? Do you love your coffee pot because it gets you through those shift days if your firefighter is full-time and works duty days? Are you thankful for your tablet because it allows you and your firefighter some face to face interaction when he's pulled for overtime, or to check in with the kids after a long shift?
Share with the appliance that makes your life as a firewife easier! You may have some tips and tricks that some of us haven't thought of and can incorporate into our lives as well.