One of my favorite methods of cooking, most especially with the fall season now upon us with winter fast approaching, is in utilizing my Slow Cooker. It saves me valuable time at the end of the day when the family is hungry. In addition, depending on family size, meals prepared in this manner can provide additional meals that can either be frozen for later, or eaten throughout the week.
The most valuable cost benefit that I have found is that you can utilize dried beans versus the more costly option of canned, as well as lower priced cuts of meat. Personally, I still like grass fed meat sources while taking advantage of the lower priced cuts. Due to personal flavoring along with the slow cooking method, the meat is tenderized and flavored nicely.
The health benefit is that the lower cooking temperature in utilizing a slow cooker is that your nutrients are less likely to be lost as compared to cooking at high temperatures. In addition, as you add your own fresh ingredients and seasonings, you are aware of the nutritional benefit as you avoid the preservatives so commonly found in foods that you might find pre-made in a can or in the freezer.
Please note: I am not a proponent of pre-made slow cooker seasoning packets. I found that they contain a great deal of salt that takes away from the natural flavoring along with ingredients I might not otherwise use (nor be able to pronounce). I would much rather utilize my own personal choice of seasonings and add a little salt (my preference is sea salt). I tend to salt lightly while cooking. This allows the individual to determine the amount necessary to satisfy his/her tastebuds.
Many meals can be made in the slow cooker, ranging from soups, stews, roasts, sauces, desserts, breakfasts, and more. As a result, one has the ability to bring something healthy for lunch to work the next day, an easy meal option to be frozen or used for ready-made meal on a busy day within your week. In addition, when you have unexpected company, a meal prepared in the slow cooker provides the ability to share your meal with others. Of course, that is dependent upon family size.
When expecting that your day will only get busy with family activities with different schedules, a slow cook meal will keep food hot and healthy for everyone as they arrive home at different intervals.
Personally, what I love most about using a slow cooker, is that once everything is prepped and put into the appliance, I can set and let it cook throughout the day. It opens up my day to focus on reading, writing, sewing, gardening, spending time with loved ones (okay, maybe some chores as well) without the worry of getting wrapped up in a project to later realize how quickly time flew by while hungry family members begin to “what’s for dinner?” 😉
Slow cooking is a healthy way to feed your family and save money. From using garden vegetables and herbs to naturally fed sources of meat, one is able to make amazing meals that family and friends will enjoy. In addition, these meals are perfect for social gatherings, so be sure to keep your appliance clean and looking nice.
I’m beginning to think I need to hint at acquiring a few more for those weekends I am in one of those moods for a cooking marathon. 🙂 Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have a hot meal in one and maybe a peach cobbler or apple dessert in the other?
NOTE: I personally do not like to leave my slow cooker on when I leave the house. I know that many others do. I just personally find that any appliance that produces heat to be a potential hazard if left unattended. I tend to utilize my slow cooker on the weekend or days in which I am home. If I have to run out for an errand, I either let a family member know it is on, or unplug my unit and reset it when I return.
Laura D. Field
Reflective Tapestry of Life
Writer, Blogger, Proofreading & editing, Freelance contributor