Have you given slow cooking a try? It’s a great way to make delicious and nutritious meals with minimal effort – you can even cook while you work! It can be as easy as throwing a few things in the pot in the morning, or to save even more time, prep you meals ahead and freeze them so all you need to do is pop them into the slow cooker in the morning and by dinner your meal is waiting for you. And with only one pot used, it makes clean-up quick, too.
If you’re ready to simplify your life and are looking for information on purchasing a slow cooker, here are some tips to help you choose the best slow cooker for your needs.
Slow Cooker Sizes
Like families, slow cookers come in many sizes. I had a smaller one when I lived alone and that one was left behind when I moved overseas and the electrics are different. Now we have a larger one so that we can make family meals or soups that will allow leftovers. It might be almost too large, but it’s better to err a little on the large size than have it too small to make a family meal.
When looking at slow cooker sizes, think about how many people you are feeding and what you will be making in it. Will it mainly consist of main meals, stews, or soups? If this is the case, then a six quart model should work for you. If you’re planning to cook for a crowd such as a potluck or family gatherings, then you may want to consider a larger model. If you’re cooking for one or two, or only plan to use it for side dishes or desserts, then a four quart model should do. If you’re unsure, then perhaps go with the six quart and see how it works for you.
There are many different slow cooker brands available, such as Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, Kitchen-Aid, and Crock-Pot, as well as many lesser-known brands. If you purchase a well-known brand you will have their years of product development behind you, and it will also make it easier to find spare parts later if you should need them (such as replacing a lid that falls and breaks).
New or Used?
If you haven’t used a slow cooker before and you don’t want to commit to purchasing a new one, then see if a friend or family member has one that you can borrow and see how you like it.
If you don’t have anyone to ask, then you may want to find a second-hand slow cooker. Check with your local Facebook groups (we have one called zero waste) where you can get one free, or for a minimal cost. Charity shops or thrift stores are another place to look. You may find that people try it once and don’t like it, but you’ll soon see just how easy it is to plan ahead and have dinner on the table with minimal effort using a slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Bells And Whistles – Do You Really Need Them?
Slow cookers have come a long way since the ’70s, but are all those extras worth spending the extra cash? It might depend upon your situation. First, think about which functions you really need. Do you need a retractable cord, or will tucking it to the side be too much trouble for you?
If you work 12-hour shifts, you may find having a slow cooker that you can program to heat up on its own at a specified time very useful. Likewise, if you aren’t always home at a predictable time, you may find a ‘keep warm’ function desirable.
You may also find after looking at what’s available and considering the costs, you may want a basic slow cooker, and there’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, this is what I’ve been using for decades.
Multiple Crock Pots?
Not for everyone, but multiple crock pots may be very useful for some families. If you regularly host large gatherings or attend pot-luck celebrations then more than one may be handy. You could have a hearty chilli in one with a side dish in another. Perhaps you’ll have mulled wine or hot chocolate in one and a fondue in another. Think about the variety of dishes that can be made, and how you’ll be the star of the show with very little work!
Why not do some virtual shopping on Amazon and have a look at the variety of slow cookers available and check out their ratings and reviews to get an idea of what’s available. Then you can make an informed decision about the best slow cooker for you. The real fun will start when it comes through your front door and you start cooking with it.