Discover just a few of the many benefits of a slow cooker, and find out why it’s a vital piece of equipment for your frugal kitchen.
Slow cooking is really becoming popular at the moment, and it seems like I’m seeing recipes for slow cookers and crockpots all over the place right now!
This VonShef 3.5 litre slow cooker is great value and the perfect size if you regularly cook for 4-6 people, or if you like to have leftovers to stash in the freezer. It has three power settings – high, low and a keep warm setting.
Both the black stoneware pot and the toughened glass lid are dishwasher-proof, so it’s really convenient to clean. And if you need a bigger slow cooker, there’s also a 6.5 litre version which is great for batch cooking or feeding a crowd.
If you’ve never used a slow cooker, you’ll be amazed at the way it can make your evenings feel less rushed. Instead of getting in from work or the school run and having to get on with making dinner, your food will be bubbling away and ready when you need it.
But if you still need a little more persuasion, here are just a few of the benefits of slow cooking.
Take advantage of cheaper cuts of meat
Long slow cooking helps to tenderise tougher cuts of meat, like chuck steaks or stewing beef, which allows you to take advantage of their cheaper prices. But if you’ve got a bigger budget for groceries, a slow cooker is also an excellent choice for venison, which is very lean and can end up tough if it’s cooked quickly.
A slow cooker helps you save money
A slow cooker uses less energy than a regular oven, so it can help you to save money on your energy bills. And because you can opt for cheaper cuts of meat, it also helps you to cut down on your grocery bill as well.
Less preparation time
You’ll spend less time preparing food for slow cooking, which means you aren’t left slaving over a pot for hours. All that’s required is the initial preparation, and then your slow-cooker does all the hard work, leaving you free to get on with other things while your meal cooks.
Less time spent cleaning up
And after you’ve finished eating, you won’t have to spend hours scrubbing several pots and pans after cooking in a slow cooker. In most cases, you’ll only have to wash the slow cooker’s stoneware pot and a few prep utensils. In fact, the slow cooker pot is often dishwasher-safe which will cut down even more on your cleaning up time.
Less chance of burning
Slow cookers operate at much lower temperatures than conventional ovens,. This reduces the chance of food burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot, which means you won’t have to soak the pot for ages before cleaning it. If you are worried about food sticking, you can always brush the bottom of the pot with a little oil before you start adding ingredients to reduce the chance of sticking even more.
Clears up space in your oven
If you’ve ever tried to juggle several pots and pans on your hob and in your oven, then you’ll love a slow cooker!
It’s particularly useful for large gatherings or special occasion meals. You could either make your main course in the slow cooker, or use it to cook one of the sides or a starter.
Less heat in the kitchen
The slow cooker gives off much less heat than a standard oven so it won’t heat up your kitchen in the same way. And that’s a real bonus on a hot summer’s day!
Improve the flavour of foods
Slow cooking really helps to bring out the flavour of foods. Sauces and stews taste richer and deeper, and you can easily add herbs, spices and other flavourings to your dish.
Dinner ready when you are
If you’re out of the house all day, there’s nothing like having a meal ready for you when you get back home. All you need to do is 10-15 minutes of food prep in the morning, and the slow cooker will have dinner ready for your return.
You could even prepare the ingredients the night before and leave the slow cooker pot in the fridge overnight. Just remember to take the pot out of the fridge 30 minutes before you turn the slow cooker on, to bring it back up to room temperature.
And having food ready when you get in can help to reduce the temptation to order takeaway!
Ideal for busy households
If you have a busy household, you probably find that people don’t always want to eat at the same time. The slow cooker is ideal if you have someone who will be home late or needs to eat before the rest of the household. You can just leave the slow cooker on the Low or Warm setting to keep the rest of the pot warm until you need it.
A versatile piece of kitchen equipment
You don’t just have to make stews and soups in a slow cooker. You can also use it to cook mashed or baked potatoes, heat up hot dogs, bake bread and even make fudge!