Today I spent 15 minutes making dinner, and that included the time it took me to wash my Crock Pot insert from dinner last night.
I can’t tell you how often people say to me, “I have a Crock Pot, but I never use it.” Variations of this include, “My family wouldn’t eat anything from a slow cooker,” or “Well, I don’t like cream of mushroom stuff.”
I love slow cooking, but until now, I haven’t shared why. If you don’t get what is so great about slow cooking; if you imagine all slow cooked food looking brown, soggy, and bland; or if you are the person who said to me, “Yeah, I know how to throw chicken and barbeque sauce in a Crock Pot. Thanks, though,” this post is for you.
Impossible, you say? No, sir. My family, including my mother-in-law and three sisters-in-law, have tested and reviewed almost 200 recipes in the past few years, and have shared our honest feedback, along with our modifications in our popular Crock Pot Thursday series. But before you check out what you should make, read why you should love your slow cooker.
11 Reasons to Love Your Slow Cooker
1. You can pretend someone else made your meal.
You know when you go to someone’s house for dinner, and the smell of the food meets you at the door? That’s how I feel when I come home from work and the scents from my slow cooker greet me. Even though it was Morning Me who prepared dinner, it still feels like a treat for Afternoon Me. Similarly, if I make an overnight breakfast recipe, I wake up to a fully cooked meal, and as an early riser who rarely wakes up to breakfast smells, that is the ultimate treat.
2. It keeps your house cool.
On hot days, avoid heating up the kitchen by using your slow cooker. Instead of sweating over a stove, sit in front of the air conditioner, lie by the pool, or eat popsicles on the front steps. Don’t all of those things sound better that standing in the kitchen?
3. Slow cookers are forgiving.
If you get distracted by a phone call or get caught up chatting with the neighbors, your food won’t burn. If you’re late getting home from work because of clients or meetings that ran long, or because you were stuck in traffic, your slow cooker doesn’t care. It’s all, “Oh, hey. You’re 40 minutes late, but dinner’s still going to be delicious!”
4. They are great for when people are eating at different times.
Whether it be a potluck, a New Year’s Eve party, or just when my husband works late and eats a few hours later than the kids and I, the food in the slow cooker is ready for the first person in the buffet line, but is still going strong for the later crowd.
5. It can save money.
Oh, now I have your attention! Slow cooking uses less electricity than ovens and stoves, and is a great method for cooking inexpensive cuts of meat. Over time, both of these facts will save you some dollar bills, which you can use to buy fun things like ice cream and books.
6. A little morning planning saves precious time in the evening.
Our evenings are busy, and I’d much rather be able to help the kids with their homework or knock out an early evening dance party than be tethered to the kitchen while the kids try to kill each other and break my couch. Honestly, many of the slow cooker recipes I’ve posted can be thrown together in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Not your first cup, of course. Please sit and enjoy that first cup. You deserve it.
7. Crock Pots are an excellent tool to use during the holidays.
Our kitchen has one oven, and that thing gets tons of action on Thanksgiving and Easter. I couldn’t make side dishes without my trusty slow cookers, nor would I want to. Mashed potatoes, roasted turkey, sausage stuffing, ham, and au gratin potatoes are incredible when slow cooked!
8. It’ll make you popular, and get you invited to stuff.
Everyone loves it when someone brings a slow cooker to a party. Think about when you roll into a function with a veggie tray. Everyone is happy to see you, but the only people who are thrilled to see your food are those folks who are getting serious about weight loss again. (And they’re really serious this time.) Now think about the reaction when you saunter up with a slow cooker. Your friends can’t wait to see what’s inside. Is it meatballs? Little Smokies? Seven Layer Dip? Oh, the anticipation!
9. They help you avoid the drive-thru.
On nights when my kids have sports or school activities, we sometimes leave the house at 4:30, and don’t get home until after 7 pm. Everyone is starving, and we’re dangerously close to bedtime. When there is a Crock Pot recipe waiting for us, I can throw food on the table quickly, and have the kids heading up to bed by 8. Sure, they still come down for water, or to report a “creepy noise,” or for one more hug, but that’s not something my slow cooker can control.
10. They make the best chicken and turkey stock.
After eating a whole chicken or after stripping the meat off your Thanksgiving turkey, toss the bones and some veggies into your slow cooker with water, and cook it long and low. It makes incredible stock, and you can fill your freezer with that delicious nectar and never buy store bought stock again!
11. They make your house smell amazing.
Depending on how you look at it, this can actually be a bad thing. Sometimes when I’m home all day, the enticing aromas from my slow cooker make me extra hungry, and I’m itching to rip the lid off and tear into whatever is cooking. I’m not the only one who has reported this problem.
Slow cooking isn’t just for stews and roasts, and it shouldn’t only be busted out in the winter when you’re making your grandma’s bread pudding recipe. There are countless amazing slow cooker recipes just waiting for you to try, and with a little bit of planning, this one kitchen tool can save you so much valuable time in your day. And who doesn’t want delicious food and more time?
Here are the slow cooker I have in my current rotation. I particularly love my casserole shaped Crock Pot, because the insert transfers to the table easily and looks beautiful. (These contain affiliate links.)
Check out the entire Crock Pot Thursday recipe index, and start planning your slow cooking menu!
Follow me on Pinterest, where I pin tons of delicious-looking slow cooker recipes!