What recipes do you cook on Auto-Pilot?
Great subject -- Neutral Steering in the kitchen!
Whenever the world starts leaving without me & there needs to be a meal that actually has nutrition and satisfies ... there's nothing like a crockpot feast.
You can begin 5-8 hours ahead of time ...
Use whatever is available -- a fat chicken, beef or pork roast works great using the same method & basic ingredients.
Start by putting a few fat ribs of celery on the bottom of the pot to support the roast & lend flavor.
Season the chicken or beef or pork using the Stevie Wonder method: Grab whatever is handy from the spice cabinet that gives the right mood like Penzy's Tuscan Blend, Herb deProvence, basil, etc. along with some fresh cracked pepper.
Throw it in the pot with "some" (very important measurement there!) rough diced onion, a clove or 2 of garlic, half a green pepper diced, a handful of fresh parsley & whatever else suits, is in season or on hand. Note that carrots must be diced about 1' and covered in the broth because they do not 'steam' cook.
Throw in about a cup of broth from a can, and put the lid on the pot.
The prep time is 15 mins including wash-up.
Set to high & wind up a timer for 1 hour.
After an hour turn it to low & the rest of your day is YOURS!
A half hour before you plan to feed the crew, steam rice or noodles. Put the roast on a dish & pour the pan drippings thru a sieve into a 2-3 qt pan. Squash the mushy veges to extract all the good seasoning (potato masher works nicely). Either add the rest of the can of broth if there isn't much, or boil to reduce for a few minutes (while you make the salad) and thicken by whisking 2-4 TBS of cornstarch in a 1/4 cup of cold water (or coffee!); whisk into hot broth & adjust seasonings - a TBS of soy sauce is my personal secret.
By the time the rice or noodles have cooked, the gravy is rich & thick and you can finish a tossed salad & put out some bread/rolls to serve a complete Home Cooked Dinner without missing a beat.
Another benefit of this meal if you have a small family is the leftovers -- Roast Chicken leads to chicken salad, chicken ala King & chicken stew; Pork Roast leads to sweet/sour pork & BBQ pork; Beef Roast becomes hot roast beef sandwiches, beef stew.
My other favorite brain-dead meal is spaghetti -- saute a trinity in olive oil, add a jar of decent ready-made sauce; boil pasta, toss a big salad & serve with fresh bread from Pannera that my husband picks up on the way home.