Pot roasts can be surprisingly healthy, affordable, and easy. In fact, you should probably add it to your meal-planning calendar right now and then come back to finish reading. Done? Ok, let’s continue. To achieve that succulent, fall-apart-in-your-mouth texture, pot roasts rely on moisture and long cooking times rather than naturally tender cuts or fat content. This means a leaner and less expensive cut provides the same (often better) degree of tenderness as another cut. And ease? Simply braise the beef, mix the ingredients together, and leave in your crock pot or oven for several hours.
Tip: for the busy working adult, take 15 minutes to prepare your pot roast the night before, leave in the fridge overnight, then, as you walk out the door, put on low to cook while you work. When you get home, you’ll be greeted by the delightful aroma of a perfect pot roast.
Here are some ways to make your pot roast especially healthy:
- Portion – You can either cook up a smaller roast, save it for a time when you’re cooking for a large group, or just plan on having lots of leftovers. No matter how you do it, try to keep your portions between 3 and 4 oz. per person. If you forget, the suggested serving of 4 oz. is on the package.
- Sides – USDA My Plate should be a guide, even when eating a steak and potatoes dinner. This means half your plate can be pot roast and potatoes, the other half (no not dessert) is fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Adding a whole piece of fruit and prewashed greens with cherry tomatoes and a light vinaigrette? Now you’re following My Plate and it required almost no effort.
- Lean – The sirloin tip and tri tip beef roasts are both lean cuts, as are the sirloin and New York pork roasts. Opt for these over other cuts where possible. If you do use a fattier cut, consider roasting your potatoes and other root vegetables with a little olive oil and cook your roast separately. That will limit the fat that is infused into your vegetables.
- Use herbs – Some roast recipes can be high in salt. Look for a recipe that uses savory herbs like rosemary, thyme, bay, sage, and/or mustard. A generous amount of onion and garlic are also musts for a flavorful roast that doesn’t rely on salt for its flavor. You can also experiment with using beer to help make your roast moist and flavorful (the alcohol cooks off so it’s safe for kids).
- Toss the juices – While you might be tempted to turn the leftover juice into gravy or simply drizzle a little on each plate, doing so just adds more salt and fat. Avoid the temptation and toss it. A well flavored roast shouldn’t need to be bathed in gravy or drippings.
Next time you anticipate a busy evening or when you’re just looking for some good old fashioned comfort food, put on a pot roast and enjoy a healthy, affordable, and easy meal.