Crock-Pot Recipes to Cook Once, Eat Twice

By: Devon O'Brien, Digital Food Editor

Let your slow cooker work double-time for you. Find out how to make one large batch recipe in your crock pot and turn it into two meals—our new favorite meal prep method.

chipotle ranch chicken casserole

Pictured recipe: Chipotle Ranch Chicken Casserole

Slow-cooking sounds like the opposite of a fast dinner. But what we love about our crock pots is that, although they take all day to cook, it's a totally hands-off way to get dinner on the table. Load up all the food in the morning, and you come home to a hot meal that's ready to serve. Does it get any easier than that?

Try these: Healthy Slow-Cooker Recipes

But the other day, a friend mentioned to me that while she loves how easy it is to cook weeknight meals in her slow cooker, she never does it because it makes too much food. To me, that's a great thing! With a little bit of planning you can cook in your crock pot one day, and have two dinners ready (plus leftovers for lunch if you're just cooking for 1 or 2 people). Not sure where to start? Try one of these cook once, eat twice dinner recipes in your slow cooker for meal prepping that happens when you're not even home!

Related: A Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep

Slow-Cooker Meatballs

slow-cooker chicken parmesan meatballs

Pictured recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

Whip up a large batch of meatballs in the slow cooker and you'll have plenty of meal options throughout the week. Skip the oven, the slow-cooker ensures they cook perfectly right in the sauce all while you do other things.

Night 1: Serve Over Pasta

Boil a pot of whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta and spoon the meatballs and sauce over top. Round out the meal with a mixed green salad.

Night 2: Serve as Sandwiches

Warm the leftover meatballs from the previous night on the stove top or in the microwave while you toast up some hoagies. Nestle the meatballs inside the buns for a tasty, easy dinner. Serve with crudités and dip or a mixed green salad.

Related: The Essential Beginner's Guide to Cooking with Your Slow Cooker

Slow-Cooker Pork Chops

sage-scented pork chops

Pictured recipe: Sage-Scented Pork Chops

Saucey pork chops get cooked to perfection alongside vegetables in the crock pot.

Night 1: Serve As is

Serve this dish up straight out of the slow-cooker when you get home. A bit of crusty bread or cooked brown rice would pair nicely, too, if you want to make the dinner a little more filling.

Night 2: Make into a Casserole

The leftover pork chops from the night before turn into a second hearty and easy meal when combined with potatoes, cheese and roasted red peppers in this healthy casserole.

Related: Food-Safety Tips for Cooking with a Crock Pot

Slow-Cooker Chicken & Vegetables

slow-cooked ranch chicken and vegetables

Pictured recipe: Slow-Cooked Ranch Chicken and Vegetables

Night 1: Serve Over Spaghetti Squash

Microwave a halved spaghetti squash for a quick, easy and healthy way to serve the shredded ranch chicken and vegetables straight from the slow-cooker.

Night 2: Make into a Baked Pasta

Leftovers of this saucy chicken and veggie mix fold into pasta perfectly for a creamy baked casserole the whole family will love.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

pulled pork with caramelized onions

Pictured recipe: Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions

Using your slow cooker is the absolute easiest way to cook pulled pork. The meat gets perfectly tender from cooking low and slow all day.

Night 1: Serve as Sandwiches

Pile the hot-out-of-the-crock-pot pulled pork on buns with a little slaw on top, and dinner is served in a jiff!

Night 2: Bake into a Torta

Layer the pork leftovers between tortillas and cheese for a baked casserole that's easy, fast and finger-licking good.

Related: 7 Tricks for Better Slow-Cooking in Your Crock Pot

Slow-Cooker Braised Chicken Thighs

wine and tomato braised chicken

Pictured recipe: Wine & Tomato Braised Chicken

Chicken thighs are perfect for cooking in the slow cooker because they don't dry out as quickly as breasts. Make a big batch for two nights of dinners.

Night 1: Serve over Brown Rice

This Wine & Tomato Braised Chicken makes plenty of sauce, too, perfect for serving over a bed of brown rice to soak up all the yummy flavor. Plus, while you're add it, make a double batch of rice so you'll have leftovers to use the next night.

Night 2: Cook into Gumbo

The leftover chicken, sauce and rice all get used in this recipe to make the hearty soup in a snap.

WATCH: How to Cook Once and Eat Twice: Slow-Cooker Chicken & Vegetables and Chipotle Ranch Chicken Casserole