6 Reasons to use a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

Looking for a fun way to make cheap and healthy family meals for less moolah? Then look no further than your handy slow cooker or crock pot! Slow cookers are frugal to buy, cheap to operate, and can turn inexpensive cuts of meat or low cost vegetarian dishes into delicious family meals with just the flip of a switch.

Slow cookers and crock pots have been around for decades. I remember my mom cooking with her crock pot back in the 1970s. Yes, I was a wee child back when bell bottoms were “far out, man!” Anyboogie nights, today’s slow cookers differ from their groovy ancestors since they boast modern clean looks and digital features. Many come with handy timers, attractive stoneware serving crocks, and can be easily cleaned.

slowcooker_crockpot

So if you’re looking to “get down” with the humble crock, here are 6 reasons to slow down and make more meals with your slow cooker! It’s not dorky, I promise. ;)

1. Cost

Buying, operating, and cooking with a slow cooker is very frugal. Slow cookers cost around $30 to $100 to buy and can save you hundreds over purchasing fancy countertop convection toaster ovens and broilers.

Slow cookers can also cut your grocery bill significantly by allowing you to buy cheaper cuts of meat and tenderizing them over low heat for a longer time. I’ve saved over 50% (hundreds of dollars a year) on beef and chicken by purchasing lesser cuts and slow cooking them into tasty soups and stews. Vegetarians can also cut their grocery bills by using a slow cooker to soak and cook dried beans – saving around 60% over buying canned beans.

Cooking with a crock is also very inexpensive when compared to the costs of running an oven. Using my Kill A Watt power meter, I’ve found that a crock pot consumes around 250 watts of power while an oven can draw up to 4000 watts – depending on how you’re cooking. This means that using a conventional electric oven for one hour can cost around 20 cents while operating a crock pot for 7 hours costs only 10 cents – an energy savings of 50%.

Lastly, there are big bucks to be saved by using your slow cooker leftovers for lunch or remixing them into a second family meal. How’s that for frugalicious food!

2. Healthy

There’s something just so wholesome and healthy about homemade soups, stews, oatmeal, and other slow cooked family meals. Slow cooked recipes rarely call for added oils or fats since they use water and time to cook the food. So as long as you trim the fat from your lesser cuts of meat, you’re serving a lower fat meal then those prepared through frying or offered at restaurants. Sure beats ordering greasy (and expensive) takeout!

3. Cooking is Easy

Cooking the slow way using a crock pot is very easy to do – just layer your food into the crock, set it and forget it! It’s seriously that easy. I set up my slow cooker in the morning before heading off to work and when I come home dinner is done and ready to serve. Besides, most slow cooker recipes are not intricate to prepare and require zero culinary skills to master.

4. Clean Up is Easy

Slow cookers and crock pots allow you to cook an entire family meal in one dish – the crock. There is little fuss and no mess to clean up afterwards. So spend more time with your family or friends and less time with dish pan hands after each meal.

If your slow cooker has a removable crock then cleaning up is just that much easier – just place the crock in the sink for a good soak and wipe clean. Removable crocks or inserts also cut down on clean ups by allowing you to serve a meal in the crock itself and store leftovers in the refrigerator – this is single dish cooking, serving, and storing at its best.

5. Meals are Tasty

Slow cookers are all about dishing out delicious comfort foods for families – meals like crock pot macaroni and cheese, slow cooker beef stew, or even award winning crock pot chili. Crocks improve the flavor of a meal by taking less desirable cuts of meat or simple beans, and turning them into tasty meals by simmering in low heat and cooking over several hours. My “better half” also loves tender veggies infused with spices and flavors.

6. Saves Time

Along with saving big bucks, slow cookers save you lots of time because they allow you to cook hands (and eyes) free. Once you’ve got your food prepared and placed in the crock, you don’t have to stand around stirring and monitoring it. Cooking in a crock pot is not like preparing food in an oven or on a stove because there’s no boiling over or burning. You just don’t have to babysit your meal as it cooks. Who knew that cooking slowly could save you so much time. Besides, what would you rather do – spend more time slaving over a stove or going outside to play with your kids?

So if you’re into easy cooking methods, single pot cleanup, and cutting your food and energy costs with low heat cooking, then maybe it’s time to dust off your retro 1970s slow cooker and flip the switch on big savings!

Got another reason to love cooking with crock pots and slow cookers? Let’s hear them!

Your two cents:

  1. Wojciech Kulicki March 14th, 2009

    I agree on all points – I’m really amazed that more meals are not made using this wonderful invention. I can throw in practically anything into the crock pot, and it comes out tasting like a slice of heaven.

    It’s a great tool for families that are always on the go – I’d love to cook every night, but sometimes it’s nice just to have the night “off” and set the slow cooker instead. Plus it usually makes enough for a few night’s dinners, and some lunches too!

  2. TStrump March 14th, 2009

    Had a slow cooker once but we cheaped out and bought the one which didn’t have the removable crock.
    It is SO worth it paying the extra to make sure it’s removable.

  3. mother in israel March 14th, 2009

    They are also good for refreshing limp vegetables and optimizing leftovers.

  4. mother in israel March 14th, 2009

    P.S. I tried to subscribe to your newsletter, but nothing happened when I pressed Subscribe.

  5. ABCs of Investing March 15th, 2009

    “Anyboogie nights”. Lol – you crack me up.

  6. Kerry March 15th, 2009

    @Wojciech Kulicki I completely agree with your points. I too am surprised more people don’t slow cook.

    @TStrump The removable crock is essential. I think slow cookers with this feature only cost a few bucks more.

    @mother in israel I too put my limp and older veggies into the crock. Such an amazing tool for stretching food dollars. I emailed you regarding your subscription issues. Happy to help.

    @ABCs I was hoping to “crock you up” with this post…but cracking is allowed too. ;)

  7. Daddyo March 15th, 2009

    I like your site and it’s parsimonious approach to life.
    With things getting tougher, Y’all gonna have to live like I always have by nature.
    My world has but one sin, waste. Waste your time, your money, the earth’s resources, and so on.
    But I had to add my frugal view on the crockpot.
    I have never had one, and don’t like leaving things running at home when I’m away.
    So, I inherited the 4qt. pressure cooker my mom used when I was young, (50 years ago).
    It gets used more than any other pot.
    And since I discovered the PIP method for cooking rice, the cooker would get pulled out of a house fire. lol

    As far as energy savings, the pressurecooker is the most efficient, period. Minutes on the stove instead of hours for cheap cuts of meat, unburnable rice, potatoes, beans, etc. Even freezer burnt comes out good.
    Eg., I put a cheap cut of meat, (chicken/ beef/ pork), in the pot with a couple bullion cubes and lots of garlic. Cook till done,*
    pull the meat, add the demi glace, (drippings) to the PIP rice in the cooker, and end up with enough fixins for burritos for a week of lunches for under 5 bucks.
    Even without the pressure, the pot makes for a very useful large cooking pot.
    I now need to experiment with quiona.

    And the “kitchen fox” loves the soft bones from the cooker. The kitchenfox is on my blog,
    arppworks.blogspot.com

    Daddyo in the snow

    *My cookbook, if I used one, just says “cook till done”

    PS, congrats on your book. :C)

  8. Trevor @ Financialnut March 15th, 2009

    I love crock pots! My wife makes this AMAZING roast every once in awhile for me, and it’s relatively cheap, easy to make, and unbelievably good!

    Great post.

  9. Bill McCollam March 15th, 2009

    We slow cook in the winter and “q” in the summer. As well as the other reasons you list, I really like walking in the door when something tasty has been cooking on the crock all day… it’s just smells like home comfort.

  10. Judith March 15th, 2009

    I like the control the crock pot gives me over my schedule. Knowing when I will be late getting home from work, I can take the 10 minutes in the morning to throw what I’ve planned in the crock pot ……… no frantic call to pizza place or run to sub shop!
    When the kids were in sports, with different games and practices at different times and places, it also meant we all could eat a hot, healthy “in shifts”; the stew or soup or chili would keep just fine for those who ate later as well as those who ate early :)
    A hint for some busy Imoms out there ………. you can put a whole frozen chicken in the crockpot in the morning and it will be falling-off-the-bones-done at suppertime. Or a big stack of frozen chicken pieces. Just add a half cup of water and turn it on. Miraculous! (I used to take out the “package” from the chicken’s interior before I re-wrapped and froze it ….. that way it didn’t cook with the frozen chicken in the crock pot! LOL)

  11. This was a great post, thank you!

    I loved that you put the energy efficiency in there; I’ve been thinking of purchasing a Kill-A-Watt, and that’s so enlightening to know how much energy you save using a crockpot versus a standard oven.

    Since I’ve become a vegetarian I haven’t been using my crockpot at all; I haven’t found any good recipes that don’t involve chicken or beef. If any of your readers have suggestions I’d love to hear them! I sure miss crocking my dinners. :)

    Thanks again for the great post!

  12. frugal living March 18th, 2009

    What crock pot features / brands would you recommend?
    My crock pot / slow cooker will not heat up very much, so I guess it’s time for a new one.
    Has anyone recently bought one? Do you like it? What brand and features do you recommend?
    I saw a small one that had a divided crock vessel but I am looking for a large one and cannot find a divided one.

  13. Jude March 23rd, 2009

    Such a nice article. Nice to know that it eventually pays for itself through energy savings.

  14. Mercy Mei March 31st, 2009

    I use a crock pot AND a pressure cooker. Corned beef is better in the pressure cooker. In the crock pot, it shrinks too much. The best way to determine which to use is by experimentation, depending on your personal preferences.

    I make Irish Oatmeal in my crockpot every night before bed. One-third cup of oats to 2 cups on oatmeal in a bowl on a rack in the crock pot. Set to low and it’s ready by the time I get up about 6-7 hours later.

    No cleanup except for the bowl.

  15. Horlic March 31st, 2009

    I like slow cooker as well. It is mean for convenience. For working staff, you may consider cooking soup before you going to work and by the time you reach home the soup is ready. Sound good right?

  16. Margaretg April 4th, 2009

    I am a great believer in frugal living. I have not got a crockpot but would consider getting one. I do though use a pressure cooker which is another great way of saving fuel and cooking economically. Minestrone soup is always a good way to use up loads of left over veg…..

  17. Uncle B April 16th, 2009

    Crock pots are on my list for frugal ways to use power. In the near future more power will come from Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal sources, and using less to get more effect will become important! Using low power (compared to conventional ovens) crock pots overnight, when Wind, Tidal, Hydro and Wave power are likely to be in surplus will help ballast the power system. Metering in the modern systems, coming soon, will provide lower prices at times of surplus, and higher prices at “Peak consumption” times – simple electronic controls can turn crock pots on when power is cheaper, over night, food ready in morning! I love it!

  18. Justin June 1st, 2009

    Slow cookers definitely save on time. Also, they allow large batches for multiple meals.

  19. Emily July 21st, 2009

    I have to say number(s) two and three are the reason I like to use the crock pot. Easy prep and easy cleaning make an easy night when I get home.

  20. Casey October 13th, 2009

    My favorite vegetarian crock pot recipe is a 5-bean chili. Actually, it might be my favorite crock pot recipe in general. I’m not sure where I got my original recipe, but I remember I had to adjust it because it called for too much water. It basically goes something like this:

    -at least 5 cans of different kinds of beans (black, kidney, whatever you want)
    -a can or two of pureed tomatoes
    -maybe one or two tomatoes, diced
    -one small onion, diced
    -one green pepper, diced
    -any kind of small, hot chili pepper, diced (depending on how hot you want to make it)
    -plenty of chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder (a little cumin goes a long way, but it’s a KEY ingredient–don’t omit it)
    -some salt
    -two or three cups of water

    Mix it all together and cook on low for a long time or high for a shorter time… the chili is done when it’s thick and not watery. It’s a very adjustable recipe… you have to experiment to find what you like. ALWAYS serve with cornbread. (That is, if you like cornbread as much as I do… you can also serve with corn chips and sour cream, shredded cheese, rice, or whatever… I mean it’s chili, do what you want!)

    I like this recipe because, although I’m not a veg myself, it’s so hearty that I never find myself missing meat even a tiny bit when I eat it.

    Oh, and another good idea for a vegetarian crock pot meal is an Indian-style curry with veggies, chickpeas, coconut milk, and rice. I’m sure there are a lot of recipes out there for slow-cooked curries.

    Hope this helps!!

  21. klassyladyleo October 28th, 2009

    I really enjoyed reading the blogs about slow cookers. I’m a college student that stays on campus but I’ve been looking into purchansing a slow cooker. And I was worried about leaving it on in my room when I left the premises. I have been reassured that the cooker won’t explode or anything of that nature. So I think I’m going to go get one.

  22. Gillian November 4th, 2009

    I got a pressure cooker almost 3 years ago. I love it.We eat many more bean based dishes, and a lot more soups and stews. Chicken stock is wonderfully flavoured made in the pc. It is also quick:35 minutes versus 2 hours. I also have a slow cooker but I don’t use it anymore.

  23. terra November 27th, 2009

    get a big one. I just bought a 1.5 litre, thinking that would be enough for two.. it is a little bit too little, but a little bit that counts, because who wants to scrimp on extra veggies and other additions of nutritions?
    My soup smells good on the stove though! Experimenting with turnip (first time)!

  24. kristi June 8th, 2010

    Hi there

    I have to say what a great idea. I have never used a crock pot, but sounds good. I need some advice, which one to buy, as there is so many. Please help me!!

    Thank you and good luck with your cooking ;0)
    Kristi

  25. dave September 30th, 2010

    There is a major error in the energy use estimate.
    Crock Pots draw power continuously, but an electric or gas oven is thermostatically controlled and cycles on and off.
    An AVERAGE oven use for an hour is probably close to 1 kWhr, and a 50% savings over the crock pot.
    Why the difference? The oven is insulated and holds heat in. All Crock Pots I have seen just has a simple air gap, and get dangerously hot on the outside surface.
    Now if there is an INSULATED Crock Pot out there, that would be the ticket.

  26. Jean July 6th, 2011

    I love crock-pots and have 3 of various sizes! A little Crock-Pot with removable crock) for dips and fondue type stuff, a Cuisinart 3 1/2 quart with programmable timer (great size for my family of 3), and a large 6 quart programmable Crock Pot (great for roasts, whole chickens, hams, etc.). I love to make a good soup and then put my delay start bread maker on to make some good whole wheat bread. when I get home – fresh soup and bread for dinner! Nothing better in the cold Philly winters!

  27. Gerard November 11th, 2011

    My favourite reason for crock-potting is a combination of #1 and #5 — it’s not just that the crock pot lets you cook cheap stuff or makes it taste better, but that cheap (“tough”) cuts of meat generally have more flavour than lame chicken breasts to start wit

    Two tips if you find your crockpot meat comes out less browned-tasting than it does in the oven:
    *Brown each side in a hot pan first. Sear till actually brown, not just un-red.
    *Add a spoonful each of soy sauce and powdered dry mushrooms (just put some dried mushrooms into a spice grinder) to the crock pot with the meat.

  28. Gerard November 11th, 2011

    My favourite reason for crock-potting is a combination of #1 and #5 — it’s not just that the crock pot lets you cook cheap stuff or makes it taste better, but that cheap (“tough”) cuts of meat generally have more flavour than lame chicken breasts to start with.

    Two tips if you find your crockpot meat comes out less browned-tasting than it does in the oven:
    *Brown each side in a hot pan first. Sear till actually brown, not just un-red.
    *Add a spoonful each of soy sauce and powdered dry mushrooms (just put some dried mushrooms into a spice grinder) to the crock pot with the meat.

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