If you’re a parent and you don’t have a loving relationship with a slow cooker, you’re missing out. Using a slow cooker – and planning my weekly meals – has made a huge difference in how we eat around here. I don’t know what I’d do without my crock pot!
Yes I have affiliate links – I’ve already bought these items and I love ’em! I hope you do too!
A slow cooker is super easy to use; of course there is a wide range of features, but basically you are working with various levels of intensity and a timer. Dump stuff in, pop the lid on, set the timer, walk away.
My slow cooker allows me to feed my family healthy, home-cooked meals; however, it also allows me to spend my day with my kids, and not in the kitchen. As a working parent, you can set up your slow cooker before you leave for work in the morning, and your house will smell great when you walk in the door! It’s a pretty wonderful feeling: when you get home you will have something delicious, fresh and (theoretically) healthy that’s not from a drive-thru.
And I will readily admit, I have a gigantic Pinterest board for crockpot recipes. Did you know you can make things like cocoa, smores, dips, cake, lattes, and baked potatoes in the slow cooker? You can also cook entire rotisserie chickens, lasagna, and all types of Paleo or vegan meals. AND tons of the recipes boast five ingredients or less! Be still my heart!
I have two slow cookers, both the official Crock Pot brand. My big one is my “old faithful” which I have had for years, and it’s still goin’ strong! And my little Crock Pot was a very appropriate birthday present this past December. I use the 7 quart one for most entrees, and larger sides (like macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes). The smaller one is 3 quarts, and perfect for cooking sweet potatoes (my faaavorite), making dips or dump cakes or other side items and desserts.
And did I mention that my beloved is also super easy to clean? (Still talking about the slow cooker, just so we are clear… Sorry honey). The ceramic pot is easily removable, dishwasher safe, and cleans easily. To make life even simpler, you can use a cooking spray like Pam or a slow cooker bag.
Let me give you a few tips that I have learned from doing tons of meal planning which revolves around my slow cooker:
- It is usually better to cook something on low for a longer period of time, instead of on high for a shorter period of time. My particular crockpot has a timer I can set, and if the timer runs out it goes to “keep warm.”
- Unless a recipe specifically says otherwise, always put the meat on the bottom.
- There are various instances in which you could potentially use meat that is still frozen, but be aware that will create more excess liquid in your slow cooker.
- If you find there is too much excess liquid, take the top off the slow cooker but don’t shut it off – the excess liquid will be able to escape and will either be cooked off or will evaporate.
- If you are exhausted at the end of the day like I am, serve your dinner out of the crockpot and simply put the lid back on, and then put the entire ceramic pot in the fridge! Then you can use “keep warm” to heat all of the leftovers the next day, or get single portions out to microwave.
- Avoid using metal utensils like knives or tongs with your slow cooker, as you might scratch it.
- You can always order replacement parts if you break a lid or if the ceramic cracks. Over the years, you may find that your crockpot is cooking unevenly or too slow/too fast. If that is the case, you can get a replacement ceramic pot or just buy an entire new unit.
- There are different sized slow cookers, some with cute designs or locking handled lids, and some which also serve as pressure cookers (or serve as another purpose rather than exclusively slow cook).
Hopefully by now I have convinced you to go buy a crockpot for your family! I daydream about having my kitchen counter lined with glorious slow cookers. The only thing that will be difficult for you is deciding what you want to cook first!