A Beginners Guide To Using The Slow Cooker Or Crock Pot
A slow cooker or crockpot is the number one appliance for those, that have a busy schedule and don’t want to spend money eating out or buying pre-packaged food from the grocery store.
All you have to do with a slow cooker is put in your ingredients in, set the timer, and then wait for a few hours. So, you can set it up in the morning, and your meal will be ready by 6 pm.
Therefore, if you have a slow cooker, you have no excuse for not cooking,
The slow cooker doesn’t require you to add grease or other calorie/fatty oils and greasy substances. As a result, Crock Pot recipes can also be very healthy. Additionally, if you know a few hidden tricks, the slow cooker also cooks budget-friendly meals.
FYI-Slow Cooker and Crock Pot are the same product. Crock Pot, which was the inventor of the “slow cooker.” As a result, Crock Pot is a brand name, and a slow cooker is a generic name.
What Should You Look For when Buying Your Slow Cooker?
There are many different types of slow cookers to choose from, from compact ones to larger cookers. As a result, it can be a bit confusing when you want to buy your slow cooker. Therefore, I am going to briefly address what you need to look for when you are buying your slow cooker.
However, the cheaper slow cookers Some slow cookers do not have timers, which means you will have to manually turn off your cooker when you are finished. Therefore, a cooker with no timer is of little use if you want to cook your meals while you are at work.
Check Out The Surface (Highly Recommended)
One disadvantage of slow cookers is that they can be a pain to clean, which is especially true if you don’t start cleaning them right after use. So, if you can afford it, buy a cooker with a non-stick surface, or you can purchase disposable crockpot liners where you throw away the liner after you are done cooking.
Meat Browners (FYI)-Your Choice
If you are going to be cooking extensively with certain types of meat like beef, you may want to consider buying a cooker with meat browner. Meat browners allow you to brown or sear your meat or sauté ingredients directly on your stove before you have to put the pot back in the slow-cooker and finish cooking. This feature reduces the number of pans needed for you to pre-prep ingredients for recipes that call for browning or searing of the meat ahead before you can cook.
Tips For Using Your Slow Cooker
Prep The Night Before
Pre-prep your recipe ingredients the night before, and when done, refrigerate them in a covered bowl. Next morning all you have to do is wake up, pour them into the slow cooker, turn it on, and get on with your day!
Trim the Fat From Meat
For healthy cooking, if you are going to cook meat in the slow cooker, trim the fat first, which will keep the lean meat as healthy as possible, and also reduce the amount of oil that is sitting in the slow cooker.
You don’t want all that extra oil and fat as it isn’t necessary for cooking your meat. You will still get plenty of seasoning and natural oils from the meat itself, so take a few minutes to trim the fat, and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Don’t Open the Lid Too Much
It is tempting to keep opening the lid of the slow cooker when you have a meal cooking in there, but this is going to increase how long it takes for your meal to cook thoroughly. Every time you open the lid, add a few minutes to the overall cooking time. In most cases, you don’t need to do any excessive stirring of the ingredients like you would in a pan. The ingredients shouldn’t stick and should mix naturally, so only open the lid when necessary.
Don’t Fill It Up Too High
You don’t want to fill your slow cooker up too much as it might overflow when you aren’t at home, and you’ll come home to a complete mess. Therefore, only fill up your slow cooker half full or 2/3rds full at the most.
Add Dairy Last
When filling up a slow cooker for your next meal, your dairy should be added to the appliance last. The dairy is going to break down in the slow cooker, so if you are adding yogurt, milk, or sour cream to your meal, do it near the end of the cooking process. They should be added in the last 15-20 minutes unless you are coking a cream-based meal, such as clam chowder.
A slow cooker can save you money, which is especially true if you eat out too often or regularly buy processed food. Slow cookers are convenient and easy to use. As a result, with convenience and ease, you are more likely to cook instead of eating out, which can save you thousands of dollars yearly. Below are a few tips, which can make you save even more when cooking Crock Pot recipes.
Purchase Cheaper Meat Cuts
The slightly tougher, and therefore, cheaper meat cuts are perfect for a slow cooker because the long hours and lower temperatures soften even the toughest of cuts.
Meal Prep Friendly
A slow cooker also is an excellent way for you to stock up on your meals, which will most likely save you money (as you have a meal ready to go) by helping you reduce the temptation of eating out. Soup, stews, and casseroles are great examples of how this can work. So, double up on your servings when you are making soup, stew, and casseroles and store Put the leftovers in plastic/glass sealable containers or storage bags and then freeze them.
A slow cooker can quickly cook vegetarian protein sources like beans, which tend to be cheaper than meat or fish. A slow cooker works perfectly fine with canned or dried beans. Dried beans, though tend to cost less than canned beans and are often lower in salt.
Dried beans require a bit more prep. So, if you are using dried beans, soak them overnight and drain them in the morning before you put them in your crockpot.
For most people, reducing your food expenses is the easiest way for you to save money and live frugally. Also, as quality Crock Pot recipes can be easy to cook and quick to prep and start cooking, the slow cooker is the perfect appliance for a busy working man or woman. So, using the above recommendations (if you don’t already have one), get a slow cooker Asap and start saving!