Whether you call it a crockpot or a slow cooker, it can be an indispensable tool in your kitchen. Many people associate a crockpot with the warm, rich foods of autumn and winter.
It’s true that slow cookers are
ideal for meaty stews and other hearty winter dishes, you can use your crockpot any time of the year, I especially like to use it in the heat of summer. You don’t have to stand in front of a hot grill, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen like baking your dinner would and they are so economical, too.
Regardless of what style or size of crockpot you have, there are other benefits to using a crockpot as well. Here are 10 tips for using your crockpot.
1. A Busy Cook’s Friend
A crockpot can be a busy cook’s best friend, especially if you are going to be gone all day. While quick-cooking foods can be convenient too, a slow cooker allows you to do something else all day while dinner cooks. There are some breakfast foods you can allow to cook all night, too, so that you can wake up to a hot breakfast or have a meal ready to take to a morning or afternoon potluck.
2. Extra for the Freezer
One of the great advantages of a crockpot is that you can cook extra food for the freezer. You can have a crockpot going any day of the week, including days where you are cooking regular meals, and simply freeze the crockpot meal when it’s done.
3. Cheaper Meat
A crockpot allows you to get away with cheaper cuts of meat. The moisture contained in the crockpot combines with a low temperature to tenderize tough meats and connective tissue. Also, you can make a very tasty stock using cheap cuts of meat and bones.
4. Low Energy Use
A crockpot on your counter uses a lot less energy than a conventional oven. Even though it’s on for hours, the slow cooker uses low temperatures and contained heat, so there’s less energy output needed to keep it hot.
You’d be amazed at what you can make with your crockpot. Most people associate them with roasts and stews, and slow cookers are great for that. However, you can also make jams, cobblers, sauces, (I make my apple butter in mine), desserts, pasta, and even bread in your crockpot, although I’ve never tried gluten-free bread. You can even make yogurt with the right recipe.
6. Easy Clean-Up
While you can’t submerge the heating unit that surrounds the crock in the middle, you can submerge the crock. It’s usually very easy to clean, as most crocks are glazed ceramic. Also, with many recipes, you have a complete meal in one pot, so you don’t have lots of saucepans and bowls to wash.
7. Low Temperatures
Have you ever been frustrated by burned, scorched, or stuck-to-the-bottom-of-the-pan foods? One of the things that a slow cooker can help avoid is burned food. The low temperatures mean you won’t have to deal with those high-heat problems.
8. Healthier Cooking
Because of the method of cooking that the crockpot uses, you can make healthier meals for you family, by cutting down on fats or oils or completely eliminating them.
9. A Hostess’s Best Kept Secret Weapon
I love using my crockpot when I’m hosting a party, family get-together, or my favorite a summer picnic. Why? Because I can make my recipe of pulled pork into my crockpot and be able to be a part of the party instead of having to stand in front of the grill cooking burgers and dogs. 😉
10. A Working Woman’s Answer to Take-Out and Staying on Budget
Think about it, if you are a working wife, mom, or single woman, what is you biggest challenge when you get home from work after a long day? Coming up with something for dinner. So what do you do when the kids are whining that they are hungry? Well if you are like most American families, you order pizza, take-out or go to a restaurant.
That can get really expensive. Your crockpot option is to prepare dinner the night before, put the crock into the refrigerator and the next morning before you leave for work plunk the crock into the heating unit plug it in and be on your way. When you get home, you open your door to fantastic smells coming from the kitchen, and a delicious dinner that, because you prepared it instead of someone else, didn’t cost nearly as much as if you ordered in.
As you can see in the above photo of my crockpot, it gets a lot of use. I hope these tips will help you find ways to use your crockpot too.