Although you can use your slow cooker or crock pot any time of year, many people associate them 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. They are also economical.
Regardless of what style or size of slow cooker you have, there are other benefits to using a slow cooker as well.
Here are some to consider:
1. Busy Cook's Friend
The slow cooker 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. Like running to the store, dropping kids off at school/bus stop, or even going to work. There are some breakfast foods you can allow to cook all night, too, so that you can awake 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 the slow cooker is that you can cook extra food for the freezer. Some people call it Freezer Cooking. I've seen it done ahead of time for a week in advance or even a month in advance! You can have a slow cooker going any day of the week, including days where you are cooking regular meals, and simply freeze the meal when it's done. Best time is when you know you will be gone all day and know you will be too tired to go home and cook.
3. Cheaper Meat
Slow cookers allow you to get away with cheaper cuts of meat. The moisture contained in a slow cooker combines with a low temperature to tenderize tough meats and connective tissue. Like that big thick piece of steak that you want for dinner but you either don't have a grill or you don't want to mess with it. Also, you can make a very tasty stock using cheap cuts of meat and bones.
4. Low Energy Use
A slow cooker 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. Strange huh, how they are both plugged in and lids closed but the oven is bigger, gets hotter quicker, and doesn't have to run for hours, but the slow cooker takes hours but uses less energy?
You'd be amazed at what you can make with your slow cooker. Most people associate them with roasts and stews, and slow cookers are great for that. However, you can also make jams, cobblers, sauces, desserts, pasta, and even bread in your slow cooker. You can even make yogurt with the right recipe. I usually make beef stew and bbq chicken in mine.
6. Easy Clean-Up
While you can't submerge the heating unit that surrounds the crock in the middle, you can submerge the crock. Just put some hot water in there and let it sit. 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. Most food usually takes about 8 hours on low to cook but if you need it sooner, you could always put it on high for 4 hours.
Comment below and tell me some things you make in your Slow Cooker.