Save Time and Money with a Slow Cooker

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Save Time and Money with a Slow Cooker

Staff Writer · May 5, 2010

Cooking with a slow cooker or a crock pot can help you save time and money and they are quite easy to use. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your slow-cooking appliance.

Hassle-free dinners

Slow cookers do just that. Merely add ingredients, such as meat, vegetables and seasonings, and then let the slow cooker cook away. Most have a least two settings, low and high. The low setting is designed to cook food in around eight hours while the high setting is designed to cook food in about four hours, depending on the recipe of course.

1. Bulk cooking – With a slow cooker you can prepare enough food to eat for dinner plus you can make enough for a fast meal or two (or three) after a busy day. You can also take leftovers to work with you for a quick home cooked lunch.

2. Low-cost cooking – A typical meal at a fast food restaurant will cost you around $5 or more. If you want to spring for a better quality meal in a sit-down restaurant you may pay around $10 or more.

For about the same price you can make yourself a home cooked meal. A pound or so of meat, chicken or fish will typically cost you about $5 to $7. Vegetables are relatively cheap and may cost you around $5, depending on what you buy of course. Because of bulk cooking, you can spread that cost over several dinners.

3. Easy prep and clean-up – For many recipes, you can chop ingredients such as vegetables and meat the night before. The next morning you need only add seasonings, water or other liquid and plug it in. When you get home your dinner will be waiting for you and your house will smell heavenly. Additionally, the entire meal is cooked in one pot so all you have is one dish to clean.

Slow cooker cookbooks

With a slow cooker you’re choices for meals are nearly endless. When you buy your appliance it will most likely come with a cookbook that will give you ideas for meals. Good cookbooks to buy include the Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes by Better Homes & Gardens and Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

The right size of slow cooker

Slow cookers come in multiple sizes so you’ll want to choose the size that will work best for you. Standard-sized crock pots hold about 5 to 6 quarts of food and are ideal for making stew, pot roast and similar type dishes.

Large and extra large slow cookers are designed to hold 8 or more quarts of food and are great for keeping food warm while you entertain or if you live with other people.

Smaller crock pots hold 2 to 3 quarts of food and are perfect for making small meals or for making sides to go along with your meal, such as soup or vegetables dishes. Other uses can include keeping things like nacho cheese dip warm and gooey. You can also use them to keep potpourri simmering, which can add a nice aroma to your apartment.

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