There are so many slow cooker benefits, that will not only save money on your grocery shop, but your energy costs too. Thanks to this guide you’ll learn how to reduce food waste, save time and save money using your crockpot.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of making life easier, that’s why I love the slow cooker. They are expensive to buy, operate and cook with. Not to mention they replace the role of the more expensive kitchen appliances such as convection toaster ovens or broilers. Similar to the Instant Pot, they are very simple to use and clean. As slow cooker recipes also tend to focus heavily on vegetables and the cheaper cuts of meat, it also means you can make budget-friendly, healthy meals for your family.
If your slow cooker is sitting gathering dust or you’re on the fence about buying one, this is the guide for you. It’s time to take note of their money-saving magic and make them part of your meal times. Before you know it, thanks to these slow cooker benefits, you’ll be enjoying some serious savings. All while being more environmentally friendly and healthier too.
1. Cut Down on Energy Costs
With energy costs on the rise, so is the popularity of slow cookers. This is because one of the best slow cooker benefits is that they are low wattage. This means that even by cooking something for 8 hours you will use less energy than the oven or hob.
According to ovenspot, a slow cooker running for 8-9 hours will use around 1300 watts of electricity. In comparison, electric ovens use 2,000 – 5000 watts for just 60 minutes of cooking at 350°F.As electricity is priced by how much you use, the slow cooker then proves to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
It’s also worth mentioning a slow cooker is approximately 14x more energy efficient than the average 1700-watt microwave oven. This adds to the many reasons I got rid of my microwave. Even by switching to slow cooking a couple of times a week will cut your energy costs considerably.
2. Cook in Bulk
Whether it’s spaghetti sauce or apple sauce, there are ingredients we all buy week after week that we could make at home. One of the many slow cooker benefits is that they hold around 6 to 7 quarts. This makes them ideal for cooking big batches of food
Not only does this save several trips to the store (reducing fuel and grocery shop costs) but it is healthier for your family. You can control the ingredients while avoiding any nasty preservatives or excess sugar and salt.
The options are endless when it comes to bulk cooking, but soups, stews, beans and chili are some of my go-to slow cooker recipes. You can then freeze leftovers or store them in the fridge ready to reheat when needed. If the energy costs of a microwave inspired you to get rid of yours, don’t panic. There are many ways to reheat food without a microwave.
3. Repurpose Food For Multiple Meals
Alongside bulk cooking, a great way to be frugal with food is to stretch the meals you make in the slow cooker. For example, if you buy a whole chicken and cook it in the slow cooker, you can then serve any leftovers with some homemade guacamole for chicken tacos or as a topping on pizza. You can also then use the bones to make homemade chicken stock.
The same can be done with a big batch of chili. You can serve it with cauliflower rice for one meal, then serve it over baked potatoes or in homemade tortillas as burritos for another meal.
4. Satisfy Picky Eaters
As a busy mom, there is nothing more frustrating than cooking a delicious homemade meal for your little ones to pick it apart, throw it on the floor or simply refuse to eat it because they saw a carrot. We’ve all been there.
Picky eaters waste food and they waste money. However, it’s very easy to sneak those veggies into stews or soups in the slow cooker. As the veg is cooked with the meat, they’ll be well camouflaged and blend in with the rich, meaty taste.
Alongside the financial benefits of slow cooking, its healthier too especially if you’re struggling with fussy eaters. By cooking meals low and slow, you will retain more vitamins. Serving meet with gravy its cooked in also helps to boost the nutritional content – music to a busy mom’s ears.
5. Make the Most of Budget Ingredients
This is one of the slow cooker benefits that many people don’t realize. They are great for making the most of budget ingredients or the food you’d otherwise throw away.
Use Cheaper Meat
For example, tougher cuts of meat are cheaper to buy but we often ignore them as no one wants a dental bill thanks to dinner. However, when you cook meat – even tough cuts – in a slow cooker, the combination of low temperature and long hours does amazing things. It allows the collagen and connective tissue (the parts making them tough) to soften and tenderize.
Slow cooking will transform those grizzly tough cuts into fall-apart-in-your-mouth chunks. No one will know you’ve picked up the cheap stuff.
As a tip, keep any leftover meats or vegetables and add them to a baggie in your freezer. Then once the bag is full you can transform this otherwise waste into a healthy soup in the slow cooker.
Eat More Beans
As a pantry staple, beans are a budget ingredient that can help your budget stretch for two reasons. Firstly, you can use a slow cooker to soak and cook dried beans. This will prove more economical (and environmentally friendly) than buying canned beans.
Secondly, beans are a great substitute for meat in a recipe thanks to high protein content. They’re healthy, fulfilling and delicious but not as expensive as say, ground beef. Replace a portion of ground beef with beans to help those pennies last longer. Alternatively, swap them out altogether for example I like to switch up beef chili with bean chili.
6. Preparing Meals Ahead of Time
I am a huge fan of minimalist meal planning and using the slow cooker makes preparing meals ahead of time easier. This is mainly because it forces me to be organized. You can’t come home, throw in the ingredients and 30 minutes later, dinner is ready. That’s what an Instant Pot is for.
If I plan my meals for the week ahead, I know exactly what I need from the grocery store. This means I spend less and also waste less as I only buy what I need. By planning ahead for the week, I don’t risk having to order takeaway or eating out on those days when life gets a little crazy. Instead, I can come home knowing I have a healthy, home-cooked meal bubbling away in the slow cooker that my whole family will enjoy.
If you’re super organized, you can even prep your meals for the week at the weekend and store them in the fridge or freezer. This will take up a considerable chunk of your weekend but could save you serious time and money for the rest of the week.
7. Saving Time
Talking of saving time, I am constantly looking for ways to save time in the kitchen, because at the end of the day – time is money. One of the most obvious slow cooker benefits is the time you will save. Not only because you can dump your ingredients and eliminate the need to babysit a stovetop, but also because you can bulk cook several meals at once.
You can even let it cook for you while you sleep, they are designed to be left unattended after all. If you’re at all concerned, the wattage is so low (approx. 300 watt maximum) that it would be the same as leaving three 100-watt light bulbs on.
Imagine what you could do with that extra time each evening knowing you don’t need to cook dinner? Those free hours soon add up. You could use that spare time to work on a side income such as selling essential oils or decluttering your home for items that you could sell.
8. Easy Clean up
As well as being expensive to install and use, electric ovens can be expensive to clean. On the other hand, one of my favorite slow cooker benefits is how easy clean up is. This is because they allow me to cook an entire family meal in one dish. Bonus points if your slow cooker has a removable crock or insert. This will allow you to cook and serve using one dish then store any leftovers in it too.
Less washing up means less energy costs on hot water. It also means less money spent on harsh chemical cleaners such as oven scrubs or glass cleaners. Instead, no harsh cleaners are needed. In fact, I’d recommend avoiding any chemical cleaners in your slow cooker as it is used to cook food. You can use
I am a huge fan of DIY cleaning recipes as then I know exactly what I’m exposing my family to when I clean. For cleaning the slow cooker, Thieves Household Cleaner is a good choice or if there is any burnt on food that is particularly stubborn, create a paste with vinegar and citric acid. Don’t forget to rinse thoroughly.
Hopefully these slow cooker benefits have persuaded you its time to switch off the oven every now and again. Not only will you save money, but you can save time, effort and the environment. Once you get in the routine of using your slow cooker you’ll soon find family meal times a whole lot simpler, healthier and cheaper. It’s a small change that can make such a big difference.
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Did you know these slow cooker benefits? Let me know your favorite budget slow cooker recipes in the comments. You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
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