Are you ready to give slow cooker cooking in a try? It’s a wonderful way to prepare your family’s meals without having to spend hours in the kitchen stirring pots.
You can make slow cooker 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. If you already have a slow cooker, start with that and see how it works for you. If you like the slow cooker meals you create, then maybe you should shop for either a larger one or different model. Since you’re interested in slow cooker cooking, check out the slow cooker tips below before shopping for a slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Sizes
Choosing a slow cooker size depends on a couple of things:
- How many people are you feeding?
- Four to Six?
What are you planning to make?
- Main meals
- Soups and stews
- Big meals Crowds of people for church or another event?
If you only plan to cook for your family of four to six people 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. I have three slow cookers, a 6 quart oval, a medium (4 quart) sized round and a really small one.
And if you’re cooking for just 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, but I would recommend an oval one so that a chicken will sit in it nicely. Eventually, you will learn how Slow Cooker Meals Makes for Frugal Meals.
Popular Brands for Slow Cookers
There are quite a few different brands out there that make quality slow cookers. Favorites include:
- Crockpot (of course…) Read : Slow Cooker or Crock Pot what is the Difference?
- Hamilton Beach
Sticking with a popular brand not only guarantees you’ll get a quality product, it also makes it easier to find parts down the road, should for example the lid fall and break.
Used or New Slow Cooker
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 have if you already have a slow cooker. After that, it’s perfectly fine to look for a used model. You can find them very inexpensively at your local thrift store. Heck, you may even have a friend or family member who will give you one.
So many people have a slow cooker sitting in the back of their kitchen cabinet and never use it. 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 in it.
What Bells And Whistles Do You Really Need In A Slow Cooker?
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 cooking feature and they 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.
Having more than one slow cooker is definitely not out of the question if you enjoy this way of cooking. You can have slow cooker pork in one slow cooker, and still have room for slow cooker Mac and cheese or a squash casserole in the second one slow cooker as a side dish.
Smaller models come in handy for:
- hot dips
- appetizers and
Multiple slow cookers really come in handy when you are Planning Slow Cooker Meals and for 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.
If you want to make your clean up a whole lot easier consider using a slow cooker liner such as:
Head on over to Amazon or take a walk through the small appliance section of your local super store 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 for beginning slow cooker cooking and get your first slow cooker. When you get it home that is when the real fun starts… cooking with it. Also, check out: Adapting Your favorite Meals to Slow Cooker Cooking. Enjoy!