A Budget Friendly Appliance-The Slow Cooker

admin / February 10, 2012

One kitchen appliance I love for saving me both time and money is my slow cooker. Actually I have two of them. If you haven’t tried using one to cook a couple of meals a week, here are some resources I gathered up to help you-

Converting Recipes

I have lots of recipes using the slow cooker that I use over and over again. And yes, that’s the problem. I wanted to convert some of my other recipes to this style of cooking but didn’t know where to start. I found this useful guide from a site called Saving Dinner…you can sign up for the newsletter too.

http://savingdinner.com/articles/crockpot-troubleshooting/

Lots of Good Recipes

One site I have bookmarked, and I also checked out the book at the library and loved all the recipes is this one. (One plus is the author gives some feedback on how the recipe turned out so you know what to expect)-

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

More Slow Cooker Tips

Even after you’ve been using your slow cooker for years there are still things to learn-

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/7-tricks-for-better-slow-cooking-in-your-crock-pot-2590707.html

Reasons to Love the Slow Cooker

Cheaper Foods Cook Well

One thing the slow cooking process does is tenderize cheaper cuts of meats so it’s a good way to stretch your budget.

Save on Energy

A slow cooker uses less energy than turning on the oven and a couple of burners. You can put everything, meat, potatoes and veggies in one pot and you’re done. In summertime it doesn’t overheat your kitchen.

Clean Up is Easy

If you’re short on time, cleaning up one pot is simple.

Walk Away and Leave It

One of my favorite things about a slow cooker is I can put everything into it in the morning, walk away, do my work and not have to worry about it until dinner time. It’s almost like having a live in chef.

Makes Just About Anything

And it’s not just soups and stews you can make. I’ve heard people who have great success with baking cakes in theirs. I’ve made apple butter in mine, baked cheese for an appertizer during the holidays. And in my opinion rice and bread puddings made in one are fantastic.

Cooking Beans is Simple

Last year I decided not to buy any more canned beans. I know they don’t break the budget but from one pound of beans that costs around $1.20 I get about six cans for beans. And I can buy varieties I can’t always find in the canned version.

My routine for cooking them is simple. After dinner I soak them for a few hours, drain them, and then add more water. (make sure you have about two inches of water above top layer of beans), I add peppercorns and bay leaves and let them cook on low overnight. When I get up the next morning they’re cooked and ready to be drained. If I’m not using them all at once I freeze them.

Lessons Learned

A couple of things I have learned not to do. When I first starting cooking with one, I’d remove the lid every hour to check on things…that’s a no-no because it increases the cooking time.

Also, don’t add things that cook quickly straight away. For example, if you’re using canned beans they don’t need to go into the slow cooker until the very end. Same goes for zucchini that quickly disappeared. And tofu, nope, cook it in a skillet and add it during the last five minutes just to warm it through.