With winter here, and days so short, it’s hard to find the time or energy to go to work, let alone find time to make a healthy meal. And the resulting pile of dirty dishes is enough to make you want to order pizza every night of the week.
If you’re nodding in agreement, then a good slow cooker can literally change your life!
I was given my first slow cooker as a gift. It was a second hand, old school 1970’s crock pot. I was really into retro at the time and it sat proudly on my kitchen counter as nothing more than a centerpiece for about a year. One day I was doing a clean up and, since I never turn the thing around, I considered throwing it away. But something held me back. I decided to look up some recipes on the internet and see if the old girl actually worked. She did. And so began my love of the slow cooker.
Since it was older than me, I wasn’t too keen on leaving it plugged in and on all day when I was at work so I decided to upgrade to a newer version. It was here that I realized the importance of finding the cooker in the right way.
Things to consider when buying a new slow cooker:
You need to consider how long you will be cooking for. Most slow cookers boast a large capacity, but the actual amount is more likely around two-thirds that. Don’t forget it’s always good to cook more so you can reheat meals throughout the week or freeze in batches to serve later. But don’t go too big because you will need to buy a lot of ingredients to fill each time.
Here is a size guide:
Small (1-2 people): 1.5-3.0 liters
Medium (3-4 people): 3.0-5.0 liters
Large (5 people or more): 5.0-6.5 liters
There are two options here:
1. Round cooker, these are good for stews, soups, chillies and curries.
2. An oval shape that has more surface area so there is more room to fit in food ideal for roasting such as chicken or chops. They are also excellent for layered dishes such as lasagna.
Need vs budget
Slow cookers can range in price from $15 to $250. Although the higher-priced ones may have extra bells and whistles, with a few exceptions, they all basically do the same thing – heat food at a low, constant heat in an environment that is hot and humid.
If you are looking for a simple cooker, you are probably looking at a medium sized round cooker with only 3 settings, high, low and automatic. The auto basically starts with a hot setting, then moves to low for the duration of the cooking time. Make sure you get one with a glass lid so you can keep an eye on it without having to keep removing the lid.
As you work your way up the price scale, you’ll find extra features like timers and heat settings to locking lids for safe transport. Consider what is important to your needs and there is sure to be a suitable model.
My latest and greatest purchase is the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multifunctional Pressure Cooker. It is a Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer.
If budget is a big consideration when looking for a slow cooker, why not consider online shopping as a secondary option, there are many people who are given slow cookers as gifts and never take them out of the box. Make sure the electrical cables are in good condition.
If you are not sure about buying a slow cooker, why not look for a few recipes to get an idea of how simple they are to use. I love to cook one pot and I can have dinner on the go in 5 minutes flat. I buy my groceries online, have them delivered and then in the morning I spend a few minutes preparing and throw everything in the cooker, then voila! Dinner for the following nights is served.
Here is my favorite 5 minute recipe:
- Meat, usually beef but you prefer, large cubes.
- Some vegetables, usually onions potatoes, carrots, beans etc. big pieces.
- Stock cube, dissolved in a glass of water.
- Tomato paste, about 2 tablespoons.
- A can of dark ale.
- A good mix of pepper, some Italian herbs.
- Put everything in the cooker, stir and turn on to Auto and leave for the day.
(Amounts depend on the size of your slow cooker and personal preference.)
I hope this helps you become more comfortable in choosing a new slow cooker. Be sure to shop around for the best price as they vary from retailer to retailer. Once you embrace the phenomenon of slow cooking, you will love coming home to a house full of delicious smells.
Aurore Balmay is a staff writer for the popular internet https://www.australia.for-sale.com/.