Benefits and Tips for Crockpot Cooking
Life is hectic… Between work, errands, and social obligations, it can be tough to find time to cook a nutritious meal. With winter upon us, I especially love to use my crockpot at this time, but the crockpot isn’t just for winter! The crockpot is also a slow cooker and can help you prepare a delicious, healthy meal with little effort.
What is a Crockpot?
The crockpot was designed for busy home cooks. It allows you to set it and forget it. It slowly simmers food over several hours and is ideal for busy weeknight meals when you want to come home to a hot meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
How Does It Work?
Crockpots work by slowly heating food at a low temperature. This allows the flavors to develop over time, which results in a tastier final product. In addition to allowing the flavors to meld, animal proteins are more tender as the food is cooked slowly over an extended period of time. The settings vary for crockpots, but typically there is a high heat setting that can cook dishes in as little as 4 hours and the low heat setting is ideal for overnight or daytime cooking.
Benefits of Using a Crockpot
#1 – Set it and Forget it Convenience
One of the best things about using a crockpot is that you can set it and forget it. Simply add your ingredients to the pot, set the timer, and go about your day. No need to worry about checking on the food or stirring it occasionally – the crockpot will do all the work for you.
#2 – Affordable Meals
Another great benefit of crockpot cooking is that it is very affordable. Crockpots are ideal for cooking cheaper cuts of meat that require longer cooking times to break down the tough fibers. This type of meat is usually much more affordable than its more tender counterparts. In addition, beans and other budget-friendly ingredients can quickly be cooked in a crockpot. Double the recipes and have multiple meals. You can freeze the leftovers for another quick meal in a couple of months!
#3 – Hands-free Cooking
Crockpot cooking is also great for those who don’t enjoy spending much time in the kitchen. With this type of cooking, you simply add your ingredients to the pot and let the machine do its job. This leaves you free to do other things around the house or take some time for yourself.
#4 – It’ll make your house smell amazing.
Don’t underestimate the power of smell – it can trigger positive emotions and anticipation at the end of your day. There’s nothing like coming home to the mouthwatering smell of a home-cooked meal waiting for you—and your family will love it too!
#5 – Versatile Cooking Method
One of the best things about crockpots is that they’re incredibly versatile. They can be used to make recipes from hearty stews and soups to quinoa dishes and vegetable medleys. They’re great for throwing together a quick and easy dinner, but they can also be used for breakfast, lunch, and even dessert recipes!
There are tons of recipes for breakfast staples like oatmeal and quiche that can be made in a crockpot. So whatever meal you’re looking to make, chances are there’s a way to make it in a crockpot.
Crockpot Style Formula
When it comes to crockpot recipes, there is a basic style formula that you can follow to ensure that your dish turns out perfectly. In general, the recipe style formula for crockpot dishes is as follows:
- Add the seasoned meat or protein of your choice to the crockpot [browning optional]
- Add plenty of vegetables, cut to about the same size
- Pour in a sauce or broth to cover the ingredients
- Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours
- Once you finish cooking, stir in some fresh herbs and canned beans
Selecting a Recipe
There are thousands of crockpot recipes out there, so it can be tough to know where to start. When you’re looking for a recipe, make sure to choose one that includes plenty of fresh, whole-food ingredients. Select recipes that require simple, real ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store.
Another thing to consider when choosing a recipe is cook time. Some crockpot recipes can take eight hours or more, which might not be practical if you’re trying to get dinner on the table in less time. Also, if you are using dried beans, a super economical and nutritious base for meals, you may need to soak them overnight first before placing them in the crockpot with vegetables.
Here are some of my favorite easy recipes from my meal plans for hands-free cooking:
- Instant Pot/Crockpot/Stovetop Chicken Cacciatore
- Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas
- Slow Cooker Herbed Turkey Breast
- Slow Cooker Italian Herb Chicken
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Check out this video on how to make Italian Herb Chicken:
Now that you know the basic style formula and tips for preparing crockpot dishes, you can start experimenting with different ingredients and flavor combinations. The possibilities are endless! Get creative and have fun with it. Crockpot cooking is a great way to make healthy and delicious meals with minimal effort. So, give it a try and see for yourself how easy and enjoyable it can be.
Don’t know which crockpot you should get? Try my pick, Pampered Chef Multi Cooker. Get yours here. This is more than just a crock pot! It is a pressure cooker, sous vide cooker, yogurt maker, and sterilizer!
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