A crockpot seafood stew is healthy and delicious, and, if you prepare the stock on the weekend, it makes an lightning fast dinner. Image source: Flickr CC user star5112
A few years ago, I got an invaluable tip on how to improve my life. A mentor of mine told me: find ways to save time on the small, everyday tasks, and then use that new free time to improve life in bigger, more significant ways. I think of this sage advice each January and February when I’m fighting to create space in my schedule to start and keep my New Year’s resolutions. Meal prep has always been a time-consuming part of life for me, because I’m not one for fast food or microwave dinners. And home-cooked food requires more than just the time in the kitchen needed to prepare it. Grocery shopping is a big time expenditure for me every week, and I’m not alone. In one day, 32 million Americans spend their time grocery shopping every day, according to the Time Use Institute, and the average time spent shopping is 41 minutes, not including the time spent getting to and from the store.
These numbers are why I want to talk about ways to use online shopping and advanced meal prep to create free time in your schedule. When you can reclaim some of that time you spend cooking every week, your New Year’s resolutions will seem much easier to achieve, and less of a burden.
Prep on Sunday, Make Lunch for a Week
This trick not only saves time, but it also gets you healthier lunches through the week. According to a recent study, the folks who spend the least time on meal prep are working adults, and because of this they end up spending more money on less healthy lunch options, like fast food. But there is a better way.
Here are the basics:
It sounds like it might get boring eating salmon day after day, but it’s such a versatile fish--and there are so many recipes out there--that it doesn’t have to be a “salmon, again?” kind of situation. Try making a different sauce for the salmon each day. Make one or two sauces on Sunday along with the fish, and then start making them the night before. Try a simple mustard cream sauce one day, a vinaigrette the next, and a yogurt sauce with lemon, garlic, and dill the third day. Caramelize some sliced shallots and put those over your salmon for Thursday’s lunch, and for Friday make your own caesar dressing and put everything over a salad. You can also change up what you serve the salmon with. Make lentils on Sunday to go with the first couple servings of salmon, then try couscous (it only takes five minutes to cook), then quinoa (it only takes about 10 minutes to cook), and go the salmon caesar route for the last day of the week.
That’s weekday lunches out of the way. I can almost hear you now, though, asking, “But what about dinner?”
Crockpot Seafood Dinners Are the Time-Saving Holy Grail
When it comes to things that take up your time, dinner prep is just as much a culprit as lunch. If you work a long day, whether taking care of your kids or putting in overtime at the office, you need some simple and easy ways to prepare food when you’re done.
You probably already know that the crockpot is your best friend when it comes to saving time. But instead of that slow cooker chili mac and cheese recipe, go with something healthier--and more grown-up. A seafood stew is tasty and elegant enough to serve to friends, if you feel like an impromptu get-together. Even better, if you order your seafood online from a trustworthy company, you can actually get seafood delivered to your door overnight--no shopping or schlepping necessary--and it’ll be fresher than what you find in the store. I suggested prepping this stew on Sunday night, and throwing the seafood in and turning on the cooker on Monday morning before you leave for work.
Customizable Seafood Stew
Mix the ingredients for the soup base:
To add after the soup base has cooked:
You can freeze the stock mix or keep it chilled in your fridge, depending on when you want to use it. Soup stock can generally stay fresh and ready to use all week long. The morning you want your seafood stew for dinner, just put this mixture into the slow cooker and let it cook on low for about 8 hours. When you get home, add the seafood to your slow cooker and cook on high for another 30 minutes. Serve it with warm bread. As a note, this recipe requires a 5-quart slow cooker, minimum.
What seafood should you use? Well, that’s really up to you, and it’s part of the fun of this recipe. Ite lends itself to customization. I suggest a mix of shrimp, scallops, Pacific cod, and clams. If you don’t like fish, something like Dungeness crab works well, too, and if you’re just not big on cod, any number of not-too-delicate white fishes (like halibut or red snapper), work as well.
Cutting Out Long Shopping Trips with Seafood Delivery
Regardless of what your New Year’s goals are, better time management will open up space in your life to help you achieve them. And one way to improve your time management is to cut out lengthy shopping trips. Fresh online seafood delivery through DailyFreshFish.com is a great way to have hand-cut, minimally handled, super fresh fish sent straight to you when you need it. Finally, if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be more environmentally friendly this year, DailyFreshFish.com can help there too--all our seafood is sustainable, which benefits the ocean and the people who make their livings from it.