How the Slow Cooker Changed My Life

21 Mar

I adore my slow cooker. When we moved into this house last year, on my must-have list of kitchen appliances was a slow cooker alongside the more standard items like the microwave and toaster oven. Knowing that my life’s responsibilities were going to increase immeasurably with the house, having to prepare edible and healthy meals being one of them, I imagined that using the slow cooker at least once a week would alleviate some of the work for us. And how!

Set it and Forget It
I can’t believe I just wrote that, but I can’t think of a more succinct way to express it. I can cook, but be out of the house doing other things at the same time. On a Saturday, I will do all the prep work while I’m having my tea, dump the stuff into the slow cooker, and turn it on by 11am. Then, I’m free to do my thing, whether it be run my errands, meet the girls for a spa date, or catch a movie at the theatre. I’m not obligated to be home in the kitchen to make dinner at any certain time, so I don’t need to cut my day short. Dinner is pretty much done and ready by the time The BF gets home from work at 6 and we can eat almost immediately.

It Saves Money
My routine is to make almost all of our week’s meals on the weekend. This is so that dinners during the week means only quickly reheating something. By the time we are on our way home, we’re usually starved and exhausted, and the easy thing to do would be to stop at a restaurant for that instant gratification. However, knowing that we have food that has already been prepared at home helps us to resist the temptation of buying dinner. Luckily, we both don’t mind eating leftovers for a couple of days. And most of the time, what I’ve made in the slow cooker are stews or chili, which usually taste better the day after when all the flavours have been given a chance to really settle. We do eat out, but we limit this to a once-a-week treat.

Sometimes my slow cooker meal can be as uninspired as some chicken and root vegetables thrown into the pot with some herbs and chicken broth, but it works for me. Anything pretty much goes. The only thing I will not cook with is ketchup, which I think is kind of gross even though I’ve seen countless recipes call for it. I even made a slow cooker lasagna once, which turned out to be pretty good. It just didn’t look like a traditional lasagna, more like a Chef Boyardee type of canned lasagna where all the noodles were mixed with the filling. It all goes back to the time-saving aspect. I don’t have to stand vigil at my stove or my oven and instead, I can take off and do other things to make the most of my day. I’ve also often drawn some inspiration from this writer, who in 2008 resolved to use her slow cooker to prepare her meals every day for a year and blogged about it. Check out A Year of Slow Cooking, which is where I got tons of ideas and recipes for my own meals.

I Can Multi-Cook
This means that I can prepare a couple of these batch meals at once. The slow cooker will be working on something, and at the same time, I can make other things on the stove or in the oven. Like today, for example, we had a veal stew going in the slow cooker before we went out this morning, and when we got home, I baked some chicken that I had marinated last night, and I quickly sautéed some asparagus. Now we’ve got enough food that will likely last us into the middle of the week.

Admittedly, I am a bit zealous when it comes to my slow cooker. It has without a doubt made my life much easier and that translates into a lot of love from me for this exquisite little appliance. The only thing I can’t do is have it on while we are at work, which would be ideal, but we don’t because we are gone for at least 12 hours out of the day, and I think that that might be too long to have the slow cooker going. Like with anything else though, a little bit of planning goes a long way. In the end, it saves me time and money, and we usually have something really good and flavourful to eat.


7 Responses to “How the Slow Cooker Changed My Life”

  1. Leesh March 23, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    I love using a slow cooker but I hate the slow cooker I have. The one we got as a gift is huge. It’s so big that it is nearly impossible for me to wash. I guess I could throw it in the dishwasher but it’s really tough to just give it a rinse in the sink.

    I, so far, have only used it to make ribs and chili. If you’ve got some recipes, please share on your blog (Ai – don’t forget to post up that recipe for Butter Chicken on your blog).

    I have never left something slow cooking at home while I’m at work. I am too nervous of it blowing up or overflowing. I will normally cook only overnight.

    • stingaling March 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

      I have an old school hand-me-down crockpot that’s not too hard to store or wash. You were the one who gave me the idea of slow cooking ribs with cola! We love doing that! And the last time we did, like you, we left the cooker on overnight, and I just took the pot downstairs in the morning to sit in the cold cellar so that it would keep for us during the day. When we got home, we just brushed the ribs with some BBQ sauce and put it under the broiler. Delicious!

  2. Steph S C-O March 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    We’ve only used our slow cooker a few times, but, it is definitely a time-saver. We turn it on before we leave for work and program how many hours we want it to go for. It goes into ‘warm’ mode or something when it’s done. It’s pretty handy and I really should use it more!

    • stingaling March 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

      Your slow cooker is fancy and new! Mine, not so much, and the programmable feature on yours is definitely something that would make things so convenient and easy. This is me being jealous of you and your fancy appliance.

      • Steph S C-O March 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

        LOL! Don’t be jelly. At least you use yours and make delicious meals!!! I’m pretty sure it does what I said it does. I should check with Jay….shame on me, I know.

        p.s. thanks for replying. ;o)

    • Leesh March 24, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

      That is a funcy appliance. Wait, I think I can program mine for whatever time I need it to slow cook but I don’t know if it turns off or goes in to warm mode. Looks like I will have to test it out.

      • stingaling March 24, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

        hmmmmm….well, it appears that I need to update my kitchen and bring it into the 21st century. I have a dial on my slow cooker, with FOUR settings: Off, Low, High, and Auto. I’m not sure what Auto means, because the manual probably got lost in the early 80s, which is when this machine was manufactured.

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