Are you keen to try slow cooking?
Slow cookers offer a fantastic way to prepare meals from scratch without the need to watch over a stove or oven. It is amazing how they can make a batch of ingredients taste so good.
All you need to do is dump in your ingredients, switch it on and walk away. And clean up is easy too – only one pot to clean.
If you already own a slow cooker, start with that – if not, check out the tips below. Try some different dishes, see which ones work for you and how it suits your family and lifestyle.
If you find yourself enjoying the ease and simplicity of slow cooking, you might want to shop for a newer model, or even a bigger/smaller one. Below are some tips to help when buying a slow cooker.
Consider Your Slow Cooker Size
There are plenty of different sizes when it comes to slow cookers. So think about how many people you will be feeding, and what you want to cook.
A family of 4-6 people that is mainly using a slow cooker for stews, soups and meals, will find a 6 quart model the best option. Cooking for crowds or bigger groups will definitely warrant a bigger model.
On the flip side, if you are cooking for a couple than a 4 quart model is perfect. This size is also great for cooking desserts and side dishes (you are allowed to own more than one size).
The 6 quart size is the best place to start for most people. Start with this if you aren’t sure.
Check Out The Popular Brands
There are quality slow cooker brands that are a good place to start looking. Favorites include Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, Kitchen-Aid and Crock-Pot.
It is always a good ideas to stick with a popular brand to begin with. That way you know you are getting a quality product and if you need parts or replacements (lids can break), it won’t be an issue.
Should You Buy Used or New?
Buying a slow cooker doesn’t mean it has to be new. If you already have one sitting in the cupboard, start with that. If not, there is no reason you can’t look for a used model. They are often available at thrift stores and garage sales very cheaply.
Ask around family and friends – they may have one you can use. There are lots of people who have a slow cooker sitting in the back of the cupboard gathering dust. Or they may have bought a second one and found they don’t use it.
You may get lucky, so ask. But be careful, if someone gives you a slow cooker they might want it back after you start cooking up some delicious dishes.
Beware Fancy Extras
Some slow cooker models are very fancy with extra functions and features. But do you really need them?
Many basic models have only a high and low cooking function. In most cases, these are affordable and do everything you need you need.
Over and above the basic cooking, think about what functions you really need. While features like a retractable cords, “keep warm” and programmable timer are nice, are they worth paying extra for?
Do your research and establish what (if any) features you can’t live without. A basic model might be all you need, particularly if this is your first slow cooker. Buying a newer model with more features is a good idea once you’ve started and have a better idea of slow cooking.
It is not out of the question to have multiple slow cookers (I have 3), particularly if you enjoy this way of cooking. While one is cooking up a batch of pulled pork, another can be making a side of Mac and cheese or squash casserole. Plus, smaller models are perfect for desserts, appetizers and hot dips.
Around the holidays owning multiple slow cookers is very, very handy. It makes cooking up a variety of dishes very easy while freeing up the oven and stove. Being able to set and forget is also a bonus.
To see what models, prices and features are available, check out Amazon or the small appliance section of your local super store. Read through online reviews, see what people like and don’t like, and from there you can make an informed decision.
Get your first slow cooker (or second…or third…), then get it up and running Now the fun part starts…start cooking with it and enjoy a whole new world of easy (slow) cooking.