As part of my meal planning, I try to make at least one meal over the weekend or early in the week that will leave us with significant leftovers to eat as breakfasts and lunches throughout the rest of the week. Sometimes it’s a soup, sometimes it’s a casserole, sometimes it’s a stir fry or curry, and sometimes it’s something else entirely. This week, it is chili.
We all love chili. Even my young boys will eat a bowl full of this spicy goodness. We don’t eat most legumes, so we make our chili bean-free. That said, I add in lots of other assorted vegetables that you may not usually find in chili, so it ends up being a vegetable-loaded, high-fiber dish.
One of my favorite things about making chili, and other similar recipes (besides getting to eat them, of course!), is that I do all of the prep work in the morning and place it in my crockpot. Aside from adjusting the seasoning later in the day as we get closer to dinner time, I don’t have to do any dinner prep during those busy late afternoon and early evening hours. That makes this chili perfect for times when you’re getting home late and need to get dinner to the table quickly without a lot of time or hassle. I’ve even prepped ingredients the night before and then simply started the crockpot the next day so it would simmer away and infuse everything in the pot with delicious flavors while I was busy with something else. This recipe also freezes well, so you can make a big batch, eat half, and then freeze the other half for another time.
Here’s how I make my chili:
Bean-Free Vegetable and Beef Chili Recipe
3 pounds Ground Beef (we use grass-fed beef or buffalo)
1 pound Greens (I used a combination of spinach and kale – frozen work just fine)
3 pounds Mixed Vegetables, chopped (I used carrots, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, onions, and broccoli – this is the perfect use for the assorted vegetables in your freezer bag)
72-ounces pureed Tomatoes (jarred tomatoes-only puree works well)
¼ cup Chili Powder, or to taste
1/3 cup Mexican Seasoning, or to taste
Salt, to taste (I use THIS)
Brown the ground beef, and place it in the crock pot.
If your greens are fresh, cook them lightly in your pan so they won’t fill your crock pot with their volume. Otherwise, mix your frozen greens in with your ground beef.
Add your chopped vegetables to your crock pot. Whether fresh or frozen, they can go in uncooked (still frozen is fine).
Pour in your pureed tomatoes.
Add seasonings, give a good stir, and turn the crockpot on low. 5 hours or so later, you’ll have a delicious meal. You can also let this cook longer without harm. I usually start it in the morning, and let it cook until dinner time. The longer it cooks, the better the flavors meld together.
NOTES: this makes enough chili to fill my large (8 quart) slow cooker. It’s the perfect, low-fuss way to feed a crowd. Reduce the recipe to make less. How much chili powder or Mexican seasoning you need depends on your heat tolerance as well as the spiciness of your chili powder blend. I get both of mine in the bulk section of our local health-food store.