ThePrep: Cozy Slow-Cooker Dinners You Can Prep in Under 20 Minutes

These easy slow-cooker dinners require just a little prep work before you can set-it-and-forget-it!

Slow-Cooker Chicken White Bean Stew

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I'm dusting off my slow cooker for this week of easy fall dinners, and I couldn't be more excited. I love coming home to a ready-to-eat meal! But the pet peeve I have with some slow-cooker recipes is the prep time—if I could get dinner on the table in less time than it would take to prep a recipe, it doesn't feel all that much easier. So, to keep things simple, these slow-cooker recipes can be prepped in about 20 minutes (with one 25-minute recipe—the Baked Ziti—which looked too delicious to leave out).

And because it probably doesn't make sense for most people to do a full week of slow-cooker dinners, I slipped in a few recipes that can be made in 15 minutes flat.

Your Meal Plan

Slow Cooker Cheesy Rice with Broccoli

Sunday's Slow-Cooker Cheesy Rice with Broccoli starts the week off right. This dinner tastes like comfort in a bowl, but still delivers a solid serving of veggies (broccoli and mushrooms) wrapped up in a cheesy, creamy sauce. I plan on having leftovers for breakfast, with a fried egg on top. This slow-cooker recipe is ready in just four hours, so it's a good one to make on Sunday when you're able to be home midday to get it going. Wednesday's Eggplant and Sausage Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is the same deal, so I'll plan on making this recipe on a day when I'm working from home.

Tuesday's Slow-Cooker Chicken & White Bean Stew is a true set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and seven hours later it's ready to eat. Friday's Slow-Cooker Barbecue Brisket Sliders is the last slow-cooked dinner for the week. It can be prepped in just 15 minutes and it uses shortcut ingredients, like bagged coleslaw mix, for an easy slider topping. Plus, leftovers mean I have dinner and/or lunch for the weekend already made!

Sunday: Slow-Cooker Cheesy Rice with Broccoli

Monday: ​​Pesto Ravioli with Spinach & Tomatoes

Tuesday: Slow-Cooker Chicken & White Bean Stew

Wednesday: Eggplant and Sausage Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

Thursday: Stuffed Sweet Potato with Hummus Dressing

Friday: Slow-Cooker Barbecue Brisket Sliders

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Big Batch Snack

Apple Pie Energy Balls
Andrea Mathis

The recipe title of these Apple Pie Energy Balls tells you all you need to know about this snack—it's delicious, fall-forward and will help keep you energized as you tackle the week ahead! Made with fiber-rich rolled oats, dried apples, pecans and dates for natural sweetness, these healthy energy balls will get you excited for snacktime. I also love that I can make a full batch in just 15 minutes of hands-on time.

Get the Recipe: Apple Pie Energy Balls

Treat Yourself

Easy Pumpkin Dump Cake with Streusel Topping

I'm not kidding when I say this pumpkin dump cake is easy. It takes just 10 minutes to prep, and there's no need to pull out your stand mixer (or even a hand mixer!). The only things required are a few bowls and your baking dish. I'm going to make this on Saturday morning for a tasty start to the weekend!

Get the recipe: Easy Pumpkin Dump Cake with Streusel Topping

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