Yesterday, I arrived home from work to the pleasing scent of dinner, already done and waiting for me. No, nobody surprised me by cooking dinner for me – it was my glorious slow-cooker, which I set in the morning before leaving for work. It’s so nice to come home to a piping-hot beef stew – not to mention healthier than the alternative fast-food drive-through.
My slow-cooker doesn’t get a lot of use during the summer – the kids are on summer break so I don’t have to worry about picking them up from their various activities, leaving me more time to cook. And since nobody is interested in a hearty, hot meal in the summer, we spent most evenings grilling something outdoors.
Yesterday, I remembered why I love my slow-cooker. I chopped carrots, potatoes, onions, and celery the night before and put it in the removable liner and placed it in the fridge. In the morning, I put a roast on top, added some broth, salt, pepper, and garlic, put the slow cooker on low, and left for work. It took five minutes in the morning to toss everything together and I came home to a hot meal. The great thing about a slow-cooker is you can leave it on warm and it will be fine for hours – perfect for families (like mine) that are scattered about with after-school activities and dissimilar work hours. Once everyone is done, clean-up is super easy – nothing sticks to a slow-cooker so there’s very little mess, and all you have to wash is the interior liner. Two minutes and the kitchen was clean and my slow-cooker was back on the shelf.
Slow-cookers come in all shapes and sizes, so even if you live alone it’s a great investment. Speaking of investment – it isn’t much of one, since most slow-cookers are under $40. If you decide to buy one, be sure to get one with a locking lid. Every dinner party, football party, tailgate event, and holiday party, you’ll be glad you went for the locking lid. I like to make barbecue beef sandwiches or a zesty chili for football parties. Meatballs and other appetizers are perfect for holiday and dinner parties, and you can plug it in when you get to your destination.
When you plug in your slow-cooker, place it in the center of your counter with nothing touching it. Slow-cookers don’t get hot enough to be dangerous, but the sides can get hot so it’s a good idea to keep it in an open area. Don’t overfill your slow-cooker; only fill it to about two-thirds – it might not cook as well otherwise. Also, don’t lift the lid while it is cooking. Set it and forget it!
There are thousands of slow-cooker recipes to choose from, so go ahead and give some a try. It’s cheaper and healthier than relying on fast food, microwave dinners, and dining out, and it is a great feeling to walk though the front door after a long day and be greeted by the aroma of a home-cooked meal.