For those that know me, I am all about being frugal. In my last post I gave you some really simple and easy tricks to learn about living frugal.
Bear in mind this ‘frugal-ness’ of mine has been a recent occurrence. Ever since I found money was a huge cause of my anxiety. It took me a long time to realise this and I started to improve my money situation.
Lowering my food costs was the first thing I did. I started cooking from scratch, freezing food to last me, and brought in some other really useful kitchen items and tools which will helped me save money.
In my never-ending quest to eat better (whilst also being very poor), I was given a slow cooker as a present and haven’t looked back since.
You can buy a slow cooker/crockpot from any local supermarket for under £20.
In my honest opinion you don’t need to spend a huge amount on one as they all do the same job. So don’t feel bad for buying a cheap one. That’s what I did and I still have it now!
The only difference between a cheap and expensive one will probably just be the number of settings they come with. Which is not very important, and for me makes it too complicated! All you need is one with a high and low setting. Simples.
For those that don’t know what a slow cooker is, which I didn’t until a few years ago, this is its meaning:
A large electric pot used for cooking food, especially stews, very slowly.
The Independent explains that slow cookers were introduced in the 1970s and goes on to state that “…the slow cooker soon became the must have gadget for the proud suburban housewife. Designed for moist-heat cooking, the slow cooker produces steam which condenses on the lid, then returns to the pot, making it particularly ideal for stews, soups and casseroles.”
I think crock-pot is a more American term of the same thing we call slow cookers.. But for the interests of this post I’m going to refer to them as slow cookers.
It’s funny really as my mum used to make all sorts of food in them and I never made the connection! It was only as I got older did I realise how she made such delicious soups. I’m so clever!
So a slow cooker does exactly what it says on the tin. You may already know that meat always comes out great when cooked for longer periods of time, on a lower heat. This is in essence what a slow cooker does.
But there are also other benefits of owning and using a slow cooker:
1. Cooking food in a slow cooker is easy.
Anything you decide to cook in your slow cooker takes very little time to prepare. You just chop up your ingredients, throw them into the slow cooker and leave on for 4-8 hours. Meat doesn’t need to be browned before being added to the slow cooker either. I know this because I also wasn’t sure when starting out! It makes little difference to the tenderness of your meat.
Sometimes I put the slow cooker on overnight (although I know some people feel a little uncomfortable doing this), or when you’re at work. You’ll come home to a gorgeous smelling dinner which is ready to eat.
It also takes away all the hassle of preparing something when you get home. More time to do what you want!
2. You can create very cheap meals that are healthy.
You’ll notice when I come to some recommended recipes that the ingredients are low cost and easy to get hold of. You can make much cheaper meals by using cheaper cuts of meat, but without losing out on the tenderness.
One of my friends recently asked my how to use her slow cooker. I kid you not – it’s the easiest form of cooking and you can make loads of portions for another day. By doing this you’ll save yourself lots of money on buying new food and prevent you from nipping to the convenience shop.
3. You don’t need to be a culinary expert to use one.
As mentioned above, you don’t need to know fancy cooking to use a slow cooker. The main thing you need to know about is the cooking times which I’ll also go into detail a bit later on. All you need to decide on is what you’re going to cook!
A simple example I made myself is some get some cheap meat (I used beef), potatoes, carrots and peas. Sometimes I’d do onions. I made a big batch of beef gravy to cover all the ingredients to go in with them. Whack them in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours on a slow heat and Bob’s your uncle!
I’ve found a really useful page here which gives you some more tips to get the most out of your slow cooker.
So since I am now a fully obsessed Pinterest user, I’ve come across a huge amount of recipes which I have tried, or are planning on trying.
I’d thought I’d share these you!
Pinch of Yum shows you 12 easy recipes you can make in the slow cooker. You can expect to find some really nice, tasty recipes to try. You can also find out here how to cook a whole chicken in your slow cooker! This is something I have never tried but it’s been recommended so many times to me. I’m definitely going to try it 🙂
The Cooking Jar has a fantastic recipe for slow cooked beef and cheese pasta. It looks absolutely delicious and is so easy to make! It’s great for those cold winter nights which we seem to be having quite a bit at the moment.
Buzzfeed also shows you that you can make healthy food in your slow cooker. There’s a wide variety of recipes here, they all look very tasty.
Why not try cooking your chilli con carne in a slow cooker? Cooking Classy gives you a simple and easy to follow recipe for your traditional chilli with pictures to follow. Great!
The Recipe Critic gives you a really easy and simple recipe to make something you may not thing about making in your slow cooker. Stuffed Bell Peppers. They look absolutely delicious, the instructions are easy and you don’t need many ingredients to make them. Yummy!
If you fancy trying out some of your own recipes, here is some useful info from BBC Good Food if you want to use normal recipes in a slow cooker. You can also use the below timings to help:
If a dish usually takes:
- 15 – 30 mins, cook it for 1 – 2 hours on High or 4 – 6 hours on Low
- 30 mins – 1 hour, cook it for 2 – 3 hours on High or 5 – 7 hours on Low
- 1 – 2 hours, cook it for 3 – 4 hours on High or 6 – 8 hours on Low
- 2 – 4 hours, cook it for 4 – 6 hours on High or 8 – 12 hours on Low
If you give any of these a go, let me know how it goes! I’ll certainly be giving some of these a go.