Life is simpler when not having to spend a long time in the kitchen putting together meals for you, your family, and friends. With the kids back in school and time being stretched even more, cooking with a slow cooker or Crock-Pot® may be your new favorite way to save time and eat great starting this September!
Check out these tips on how to take advantage of the slow cooker, and all of its wonderful benefits!
WAYS TO SAVE TIME AND MAKE BETTER MEALS
- Easy, Balanced, and Wholesome Meals
The best part of cooking with a slow cooker is that you can make a full meal with very little effort.
Registered Dietitian Cynthia Sass says, “With a slow cooker you can make healthy, balanced meals with very little prep time.” Ingredients can be prepped ahead of time, then frozen or refrigerated until you’re ready to cook them. During busy weeks when you miss your grocery trip, you can still have a home-cooked meal for your family.
- Plan Ahead
At night, jump start your meal prepping for the next day to save time. Before heating up your slow cooker meal in the morning, prepare any ingredients you will be using the previous evening.
This could entail pre-cutting veggies, trimming and thawing meats, or even measuring out simple spices that you will be adding to the pot.
- Maximize the Flavor
Seasoning, browning, or caramelizing your meats in a skillet beforehand is a great way to make sure your get the most out of your slow cooker dishes. Sure, it may take a little more prep work, but why settle for an average tasting meal when you can make it better!
- Keep A Lid on It
Remember your mom telling you not to open the oven door because you would let the heat out? Well, with a slow cooker this is most certainly true. Since the point of a Crock-Pot® is to cook foods slowly, continuously taking the lid off will affect the cooking time of your meal. Also, mind your temperature. Realize how long you will be gone while cooking and make sure that the temperature you are using aligns with your schedule, and know that a little temp goes along way.
- Don’t Over Fill
Filling your slow cooker to the brim can cause hiccups when you are ready to eat. Some of the items may not be cooked, while others may be overcooked. Filling the cooker to only half or two-thirds full is best. Also, placing veggies close to the bottom of will help with making sure they are fully cooked.
- Save Money
Using dried beans instead of canned ones in your slow cooker is a great way to save money and cut down on the preservatives that come in canned goods. Soak the beans overnight and they will be ready to throw in the Crock-Pot® before you leave for work!
- Less Energy
Did you know that a slow cooker use less energy that both stove tops and ovens? Using your slow cooker can save you money on your energy bill.
- Open Up Your Pantry
A great thing about a slow cooker is that you can throw just about anything into it. Now, we don’t suggest opening up a can of something that is two years expired from the fridge or pantry and using it. However, using canned veggies, beans, and other ingredients that you have been meaning to use will help you clean a spot for new (healthy and unprocessed) items you haven’t had a place for.
Now that we have given you some information about making the slow cooker your new best friend this fall and winter, go out and create some great dishes! Check out our website for delicious slow cooker recipes and always follow our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more great tips!