Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Slow and steady wins the race... Why I love my slow cooker

OK. I actually don't love my slow cooker. I love my slow cookers. That's right I actually have three slow cookers that I regularly use and I also an 18 qt. roaster I use when I need the big guns. If you are busy but want to feed your family home cooked meals, if you are on a budget or both, then you need a slow cooker. Generally you can buy a basic slow cooker for as little as $10.

I picked up for $3 on the Saturday after Black Friday last year. The inexpensive ones generally are very basic and only have 2 settings - low and high but they are great way to start slow cooking. Once you decide you like slow cooking then you can invest in a more expensive feature rich model. My favorite slow cooker is my oval 5.5qt. slow cooker that includes a digital timer and multiple settings including warm, low and high. One really important feature - a removable crock. 

So why invest in a slow cooker? First - TIME. Don't we all complain that we don't have enough time? How often have you hit a drive through on your way home from work because you just couldn't handle cooking after a long day at the office? Well a slow cooker does the work for you while you are off at work, school or running errands. The beauty of a slow cooker is that with minimal prep time you get maximum results.

Second - MONEY. Often the largest cost in your grocery budget will be meat. Meat is expensive and good quality tender meat is even more expensive. Cheaper cuts of meat are often tough but if use a slow cooker the meat has the time to break down and tenderize. Inexpensive cuts of meat like a pork picnic roast or stew meat become melt in your mouth delicious after 6-10 hours in a slow cooker. This allows you to save money without sacrificing taste.

So if you don't have a slow cooker - go buy one today! I will be posting some of my favorite very quick slow cooker recipes. Most of my slow cooker recipes are what I call dump recipes. I know, not a word you generally find appealing when it comes to food but basically the idea is that you can dump in all the ingredients, set the timer and off you go! You will find that some slow cooker recipes require quite a bit of prep work, which I am not a fan of at all!

I do highly recommend checking out the A Year of Slow Cooking blog by Stephanie O'Dea. She also has a great book, Make it Fast, Cook it Slow available on Amazon.
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