Saved by the Slow Cooker

For those of us with very tight schedules, have children or just want an easier solution to dinner, the slow cooker can be our go-to best friend. It’s a “leave it and forget it” thing. I mean seriously…you put your ingredients in one pot, turn it on, set the timer and hours later you have a great meal! Finding those recipes can be challenging. But if you put a bit of work into it you can find it makes life a bit simpler.

Meal Plan & Prep

Planning out the meals for the week not only makes dinner easier but it saves both money and time. Include everyone who will be either eating or helping prepare the meals. Prep meals on the weekend after shopping and put in large freezer bags. The more help the merrier and quicker it will go. If everyone helps clean and chop on Sunday for example the time will go by faster and then it is just “grab and toss in the cooker”. Don’t forget to label your meals!

Mix it Up

Try not to get in the same routine with your ingredients. Mix it up a bit. Chicken, turkey, beef or veggie. Soup, stew, casserole or soups. The more variety the better. Remember if the recipe calls for noodle or rice it may be better to add already cooked in at the end. Check each recipe as you go.

Have Kids/Teens Help

Let them help or give them a day that’s all theirs. From their choice of meal to putting it in and starting the slow cooker. Just remember no meal will burn if cooked on low and it goes past the time. So younger children have them start the meal on low.

Choose 5-Ingredient Meals

For most meals choose 5 ingredients so they do not get too complicated. You can always make the main and have rice or noodles cooked later and added at the end. Cooking with a slow cooker is about ease and convenience. Do not over think it.

Start a Recipe Journal

Finding recipes that really hit the spot and are loved by everyone should be saved. Start a recipe journal using a notebook or start a recipe box with index cards and box purchased at your local Dollar Store. It really does help you in your time saving efforts, with meal planning, shopping and remembering the loved recipes!

Soups Go a Long Way

Making soup or stew? You can make a big batch in the slow cooker and freeze in reusable soup containers for lunches or quick reheat dinners. A little soup can go a very long way.

Don’t Forget Weekends Too

There are some fantastic breakfast ideas or desserts you can add for the weekends when you might not use the slow cooker for your dinner. Nachos and dip for Saturday night movie maybe. There are some great nacho dip recipes that can be made in under an hour using the slow cooker. Or great oatmeal recipes as well! Heck you can even make bread!

Here is something to get you started. A great nacho dip recipe that is a definite pleaser!

  • 1 LB Ground Beef -pinch of salt and pepper
  • pinch of onion powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. can refried beans
  • 2 x 16 oz. jars salsa (hot or mild)
  • 1.5 cups sour cream
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
  • tortilla chips
  1. Brown ground beef. Drain. Add salt, pepper, onion powder and minced garlic.
  2. Combine beef, salsa, beans, sour cream and 2 cups cheese in slow cooker.
  3. Cover. Heat on Low for 2 hours. Just before serving top with remaining cheddar cheese.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.

Make sure to add Harvest Bakery & Deli to your list for fresh baked buns, breads and pastries needed for your meals! We also have a great selection of cheese, pasta, soup bases as well as deli meats that would work in a variety of slow cooker recipes. Give us a call today! 204.489.1086

Making the Perfect Hamburger

Ah, the barbecue and hamburgers. It’s a fast weekday meal after a long day. It’s the weekend backyard party main stay. Or at the beach with a grill nearby. However you look at it, the hamburger is and always will be the go-to food when it comes to the barbecue!

The possibilities are endless – from the type of bun, seasonings, sauces, cheeses, and topping – to take your burger to a whole other level. I have taken the different ingredients and broken them down into categories. Pick one from each category to create your burger masterpiece! When you think about the endless combinations, it can be mind boggling – no one said the hamburger has to be boring!

Start with the Bun

Multigrain Hamburger
Multigrain Hamburger

The choice of bun can bring an entirely new taste to any hamburger. The fresher the bun the better. Choices can range from your staple white or whole wheat bun to a multigrain seeded bun. There are also the widely popular Brioche, poppy seed, flax, sesame seed, onion or everything bun. An “everything” bun is usually a combination of poppy and flax with onions.


A hamburger can be more than just beef. The choices can be ground pork, ground raw turkey, ground veal or ground lamb. You can also use a combination of ground meats. Mixing both ground beef and ground pork for example.

Add to the Meat

Making a burger stay together and keep its shape usually requires adding an egg and some bread crumbs. With or in place of the egg you can also add barbecue sauce, ketchup, HP sauce, yogurt (plain), milk or soy sauce. The bread crumbs can also be seasoned or you can do what I like to do occasionally, I crush a bag of chips like Old Dutch Onion and Garlic. This adds the crumb and seasoning or flavor at the same time!


Some people swear by just a bit of salt and pepper, but adding some spice can turn that burger up a notch! Try adding a choice of dry onion soup mix, minced garlic, chili powder, Italian seasoning, dried basil or fresh ginger. Even a bit of Montreal Steak spice can jump-start any hamburger. Take what seasoning you like and give it a go!

Add Vegetables to the Meat

That’s right. You can add veggies like finely chopped jalapeno or green peppers, canned diced chili peppers, finely chopped banana peppers, grated carrots, finely chopped canned mushrooms (drained), finely chopped onion or green onions. Just remember you are adding a bit of heat with some of these.


This is where you can have a bit of fun. Horseradish, mustard including Dijon, honey or hot, mayo including garlic mayo, relish, ketchup, jam (yup!), hummus, chutney or aioli.


The possibilities when it comes to toppings can be endless! There are the usual suspects like onions, tomatoes, lettuce and bacon. Some add a fried egg on top. Then there is sautéed onions and mushrooms, salsa, avocado, guacamole, spinach, kimchi, onion rings or grilled pineapple slice. The list can go on and on.


Every burger needs a great cheese. Cheddar cheese, brie, Swiss, feta, gouda, American cheddar, blue cheese, pepper jack, Monterey to the more upscale Burrata and gruyere. Not everyone likes cheese so you may want to check with your guests first or have them add just before they come off the grill.

White Hamburger Buns
White Hamburger Buns

The moral of the story is that a hamburger can be any combination of anything (or everything) you enjoy. Have the kids be a part of it by building their own. They learn the art of matching simple ingredients for very flavorful results!

Those in Winnipeg can head over to Harvest Bakery and Deli for your start to the best burger… THE BUN!! We bake them fresh each and every day!

PS: My favorite burger foodie is @samsburgerlist on Instagram. Check it out for more great inspiration!