There are really two basic reasons folks like to cook with a crock pot, also called a slow cooker. One reason is to save time, the other is to save money. Let's see if there is any truth to either of those reasons.
Save Time With a Crock Pot - This may seem like an oxymoron to some people. After all, how can having a meal in the crock pot for eight hours save time? It all depends on your lifestyle and your routine for dinnertime, but most have to agree that getting dinner in the crock pot, then walking away from any further time spent in the kitchen, definitely frees up time.
Like most families, you probably cannot designate one person to do the cooking each and every day. With our busy schedules, we have to get a bit of help in the kitchen. Because we're not dealing with hot burners and open flames, we can recruit even our youngsters to help out with the meal preparation. Chores such as adding ingredients to the crock pot can now be delegated, freeing up your time for other tasks. Also, many recipes for the crock pot are kept very simple, making them ideal for the cooking-challenged family members. Everybody can help!
A watched pot never boils, and this is never truer than when you're in a hurry to get dinner on the table. If you don't have to stir a pot and watch it to make sure it stays on simmer, you can go about your business. After the ingredients are in the crock pot, you are free to take care of what you need to the rest of the day. Time spent over a hot stove is wasted time, indeed.
There is no such thing as a quick stop at the grocery store. But, when you're running late and there is no dinner planned, you think you can do just that - make a quick stop. After a half hour or more wandering around the aisles of the grocery store, you find yourself grabbing a few prepackaged meals and heading home. Now, you've not only put off dinner until later, but you've spent money on food you didn't really want to eat, or feed your family. With a crock pot meal planned and shopped for ahead of time, you can add that 30 minutes on to the end of your busy day and spend it with your family, instead of running around the grocery store.
Save Money With a Crock Pot - Since you're going to cook dinner anyway, how does cooking it in a crock pot save money? There are several thoughts about just how a crock pot can save you money, both on your food budget and on your energy bill.
March right past those expensive cuts of meat in your grocery store's meat department and head over to the budget cuts. Yes, those less expensive cuts of meat such as rump roasts, pork shoulders, and briskets make the perfect choice for a crock pot meal. Why? Because more expensive cuts tend to cook apart in a crock pot, losing their texture very quickly. Budget cuts with more sinew and other connective tissue hold up better, while those fibers break down in the crock pots environment, ending up with a perfectly tender and succulent meat. The slow, low cooking method is perfect for less expensive cuts of meat, while the moisture trapped inside the crock pot keeps the meat juicy. You can provide a wonderful meal for your family without spending the extra money on expensive ingredients!
Even though you would cook a pot roast in the oven for half as long as you would cook it in a crock pot, the oven uses a lot more energy. Your oven uses 2500 watts, while a crock pot is normally rated at about 200 watts. That means that a 3 hour pot roast in the oven uses 10 kWh, while a 6 hour pot roast in the crock pot uses about 1.2 kWh. These are estimates, of course, but you must admit that even the most efficient full-sized oven can't compete with a crock pot when it comes to energy savings. A crock pot can be considered a miniature oven just to get an idea of how and why it would save you money spent on your energy bill.
You know what it's like when you're in the middle of running kids around and finally break down and call the hubby to pick up something for dinner. You know it's going to be an expense that you really didn't have in the budget this week. The evening rush is not the time to start thinking about dinner if you want to save money. When you're out driving the kids between practices and lessons, your crock pot could be happily bubbling away at home on your kitchen counter. Dinner is ready when you are, and no more money wasted on fast food stops!
Save Both Time and Money With a Crock Pot - Cooking larger portions, and planning for your leftovers, is one way to save both time and money. With a large crock pot, a 6 quart size, you can cook larger cuts of meat, turn that meat into several dinners, then package up the leftovers for lunches. By cooking one large meal, you have now created several dinners plus lunches all in about the same time it takes to cook one meal. Not only are you saving energy by cooking more than meal at a time, but you're saving the time it takes each day to put together a new meal. Plus, if eating lunch out is a routine for you, just think of the money you'll be saving by bringing your own home-cooked meal to eat each day. And, maybe instead of using your lunch hour to run out and get something to eat, you can use the extra time to do something you enjoy.
Saving time and saving money seem to be pretty evident in these examples. Crock pots, when put to work, are an excellent way to not only save your budget and your time, for possibly your sanity, too. You have a family to take care of and a household to run. You definitely don't need to have that nightmare every night of your hungry family crying "when's dinner?" Now, you can answer "it's in the crock pot!