Once you choose your recipe and have all ingredients on hand, follow the following steps. Often I can do them while preparing dinner!
Step 1: Cut up all veggies. Put them in a big bowl for the fridge.
Step 2: Prepare meat, if needed. Often meat needs to be trimmed, cut up, and browned. Get it all ready to go and put in a container.
beef barley veggie soup: the glass container has browned, cut up meat and the white container has chopped carrots, parsnips, bell peppers, celery and mushrooms.
**Tip: You can lengthen the cooking time, if desired, by using frozen meat. I browned the meat for my recipe tonight, then put it in the freezer because it will be cooking a bit longer than the recommended 8 hours. You can also use frozen chicken breasts, saves a lot of time!!**
Step 3: Get out all other ingredients (canned goods, spices, etc) and put them right next to the crockpot. Go to bed.
I double checked the recipe and made sure I had all spices and canned goods, and even the cooking spray for the crockpot, ready to go in the morning! I am not a morning person so I don't like to leave much to chance!