Crock pots are the cute little money savers in the kitchen. They help us save time as well as resources. I have found I have been able to feed my family a much healthier diet using much less in the way of ingredients, and it takes me about an hour of prep time the night before the meal. A crock pot however doesn’t just save time. It also saves money.
When you have company over, or a holiday get-together your crock pot is a great way to make a meal that is big enough to feed everyone without costing you half a pay check. You can cook dried beans, use little meat and add spices. There you have a nice soup or chili and it didn’t cost you more than five or six dollars. If you wanted you could add a homemade bread, corn bread or rice as a side dish. It still would be a group meal that costs about fifteen dollars or less.
Crock pots heat up your food and they do so all day. A crock pot can heat up pretty well. They still don’t generate as much heat as having the oven or stove on. You won’t be spending the money on air conditioning to counter the heat coming out of your kitchen. Plus you can still have a healthy hearty home cooked meal.
While it is true that there are unhealthy recipes that can be made in a crock pot, there are many healthy meals that can just as easily be made. They often require less meat. They help you take a step back from frying foods. Cooking healthy with a crock pot doesn’t even take more effort than cooking unhealthy with a crock pot. This means better nutrition for your family and hopefully less medical problems.
So you bought ten pounds of pork for only $1.50 a pound, or scored a few whole chickens from your backyard homestead neighbor. Dinner for weeks!… you think, but… now what? How to cook all that cheap meat you just got, assuming you are a meat eater?
Slow cooking has been a time saver for families for ages. Tough meat that would otherwise be hard to eat can simmer for hours in a pot, growing soft and tender. The trouble was that someone had to be watching the pot all day, something that’s hard to do in our modern, busy lifestyles. When the slow cooker, or Crock-Pot, as the brand name is, was invented a few decades ago, it was instantly popular. Because it cooked food at a low, constant, heat, without needing to be warmed by a flame or oven, parents could flip it on in the morning, go to work, and return home to a warm, nearly effortless meal. Since most cheap cuts of meat and vegetables generally require somewhat long cooking times, a slow cooker can be a great help to a thrifty lifestyle, as you can cook a cheap, nutritious meal very easily. Below is a basic recipe that works for nearly any cheap cut of meat, but this is only a guide—feel free to add your own vegetables or spices, and adjust cooking times to your preference.
- Chop up veggies. Onions and carrots go with almost every meat. Celery is cheap and is often used with poultry. Toss those in the bottom of the crock pot.
- You don’t need to add liquid, since fat will melt off the meat when cooking, but if you wish to, pour in a cup or two of water or broth.
- Pat dry your meat. Shake on some spices. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder are good basic flavors that go with almost everything.
- Turn on the slow cooker! If you need a meal within 4-5 hours, flip it on high. Otherwise, especially for tough cuts of beef or pork, cooking on low for an average of 8 hours will yield a more tender meal.
There you go! You have an extremely basic slow cooker meal! Again, this is a just a starting point—part of the fun is being able to experiment on your own! What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?
Some appliances can save us time and money. They can keep us eating right even at the end of a busy day. Here are a few of my favorites.
The main problem with eating at home and eating healthy is how much time it takes. Food needs to be thawed, prepared, and cooked. We don’t always have time for that. Nor do we want to eat nothing but microwavable meals. That’s why I recommend getting a slow cooker. You fill them up in the morning and turn it on. It takes all day to cook and I still have time to chase my toddler or run to the store. If you work outside the home it’s even more helpful. Imagine being able to come home to a home cooked meal in the evening that is already prepared and ready to eat. This will reduce the costs of eating out considerably.
George Foreman Grill
I love this particular appliance for a few reasons. First it automatically drains the grease out of our food while you’re grilling it. Second it’s small and produces less heat on really hot days. Third, it’s portable, so if you are in a hotel room, but want to make something small instead of buying overpriced hotel food or take out, you can. Last but not least, it sits further back on our counter and there is less of a chance of our toddler touching it while I’m cooking.
My parents had a freezer in our garage. They stored everything in it. There was bread, milk, meat, and frozen vegetables. It was one of the ways they would store food in case there was a hard month. This is also helpful if you find freezable items on sale and want to stock up. We just wrote the date we got it on the packaging and used what we had first bought first. Yes, it took more time to thaw food out, but at the same time it was less likely that we would run out of an ingredient and order take out instead of eating healthy.
This is a good hearty hybrid between a soup and a chili. It’s great for those cold days that I don’t have a whole lot of time to spend on dinner. To make it you need:
1 bag of split peas
1 bag of lentils
1 bag of brown rice
1 bag of red kidney beans
1 packet of corn bread mix
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Mix the peas, beans, lentils and rice in a bowl or container that has a lid. This will be enough to make a few batches and stores well in a sealed container. Put two cups of the mixed beans into a crock pot. Pour six cups of water in as well. Cover the pot and let it cook on high for four to six hours, checking it every now and then, adding water as needed. When it is done, turn the heat
down to warm and mix in the garlic powder and corn bread mix. Continue to let it warm for a few minutes and then it’s ready to serve.
I love my Crock-Pot! Funny enough, I’ve finally been able to get my husband to do some cooking thanks to showing him how easy it is to cook meat using the slow cooker. With warm weather approaching, it’s a great time to pull out the slow cooker and avoid heating up your whole house making dinner. So here’s to trying new recipes and enjoying the classics with this FREE Slow Cooker eBook available HERE.