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It’s a new year! On top of that, January is Slow Cooker month. This month, I am going to post multiple slow cooker recipes, slow cooker reviews, and more. You can also sign up to get recipes in your mailbox right here: Slow Cooker Challenge
This should be fun!
Picking a Slow Cooker 101
Are you ready to incorporate a slow cooker into your prep routine? It’s a wonderful way to prepare your family’s meals without having to spend hours in the kitchen stirring pots. Make a pot of beef stew that tastes like you’ve slaved for hours over the stove when all it really took was dumping a few ingredients in your slow cooker and turning it on. And since you’re only using one pot, clean-up is a breeze as well.
Start with any slow cooker you currently have as long as it works. See if you like the dishes it creates and if slow cooking works well for you and your family. If it does and you’re ready to shop for a new model, use the tips below and in the next posts to guide you in your purchasing decision.
Slow Cooker Sizes
How many people are you feeding? Will you be planning on making mostly main meals, soups, and stews for a family of four to six people? If so, a six-quart model will be your best bet.
If you’re doing a lot of cooking for crowds (church potluck anyone?), you may want to go with a bigger model.
And if you’re only cooking for two, or only plan to make side dishes and desserts in the slow cooker, a four-quart one will suffice. If you’re not sure what to get, stick with the standard six-quart version.
There are quite a few different brands out there that make quality slow cookers. Favorites include Crock-Pot (of course…), Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, and Kitchen-Aid. Sticking with a popular brand not only guarantees you’ll get a quality product, but it also makes it easier to find parts down the road, should –for example– the lid fall and break.
Used or New Slow Cookers?
One question we haven’t addressed yet is if you need to buy a new slow cooker at all. As mentioned earlier, start with what you’ve got. After that, it’s perfectly fine to look for a used model. You can find them very inexpensively at your local thrift store or on an online selling app.
Hey, you may even have a friend or family member who will give you theirs. So many people have slow cookers sitting in the back of their kitchen cabinets and never use them. Ask around, you may get lucky. And if you do, don’t be surprised if they ask for it back once they see, smell, and taste some of the amazing meals you’re making with their cast-off crockpot.
What Bells And Whistles Do You Really Need?
There are some fancy slow cooker models on the market today. And there are some very affordable basic models that function with no more than a high- or low-temperature selector and may do everything you need your slow cooker to do.
Think about what functions you really need.
- Retractable cords are nice, but it’s also not that hard to tuck the cord under the slow cooker when you store it.
- Having a “keep warm” feature is helpful.
- Do you need a programmable timer so the chili can start cooking itself even if you’re out running errands or just getting back to the office after a quick lunch?
Take a look at what’s on the market and decide what you can and can’t live without. If this is your first slow cooker, start with a very basic model. You can always add another one with more features down the road.
More than One Slow Cooker?
Having more than one slow cooker is definitely not out of the question if you enjoy this way of cooking. You can fix pulled pork on one, and still have room for Mac and cheese or a squash casserole to cook in a second one as a side dish. And smaller models come in handy for hot dips, appetizers, and desserts. Multiple slow cookers really come in handy around the holidays when you’re fixing a variety of different casseroles and the likes. If you can prepare a few of them in your slow cookers, you don’t have to worry about using up precious oven time. And it’s one more thing you can set and forget.
Head on over to Amazon or take a walk through the small appliance section of your local superstore and see what your options and price ranges are. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon and see what folks like and what they don’t like. Then make an informed decision and get your first slow cooker.
When you get it to the house is when the real fun starts… actually cooking with it.
If you want the recipes from this month in your mailbox, sign up here: Slow Cooker Challenge
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