There are pros and cons to using a slow cooker. When you dump everything into the same pot and let it cook on low for 8 hours, this is how I feel about it:
For me the cons are:
- Slow cooker meals often look less appetizing than a freshly prepared meal.
- Many of the ingredients are overcooked (good for meat, bad for veggies).
- If you cook everything in the slow cooker at once, you have to use a big slow cooker which is a pain to clean. I don’t like to use slow cooker liners. Waste of money, and who likes to eat things cooked in plastic? Not me.
The pros are:
- Dinner is ready when it’s time to have dinner. Something hot without standing over the stove! Hooray!!
- Many slow cookers recipes are of the throw it in and go variety, so easy to prepare.
- My husband can operate a slow cooker, so little risk of burning things.
After the birth of our second kid, and re-entering the crazy life known as working mom, I decided I needed to use a slow cooker more often, but with some tweaks. I typically only pulled out our 5 qt. one when I was cooking a roast or batch cooking. Enter the 2 qt. Crock Pot.
Then I changed how I used it. Instead of preparing a whole meal in the slow cooker, I only prepare the protein. Chicken. Pork chops. Cuts of beef. Beans. In the pot after less than 5 minutes of prep at 8 a.m. and perfectly cooked on low when it’s time to finish dinner off at 5 p.m. when I cut up fresh vegetables, toast some bread or tortillas, and finish everything off in less than it would take to pick up a pizza. Perfect.
TIP: Say you are cooking frozen chicken in the slow cooker and it doesn’t all fit nicely because the chicken breasts are a little too long in their frozen state to put the lid on tight. Cover the crock pot with foil and place the lid on top. When the chicken thaws enough that the lid would fit, it will fall neatly into place when the foil moves down. Works like a charm. Every time.
Stay tuned on the four simple recipes I use the slow cooker for and the dozen different ways to finish the protein off.