Cooking on a budget is a hot topic nowadays with everyone focused on saving money. One of the easiest ways to save money on food is by utilizing a slow cooker, also called a crockpot. Crockpots offer a great way to prepare affordable and healthy meals. Up to 80% of American households own one, but how many are getting the full benefit from their usage?
Use all the Features
Let’s start with the two features of these frugal kitchen gadgets that make them even more useful; programmability and thermometer probes. Newer models have a programmable feature where you set the specific amount of cooking time. When that time has passed, the devise will automatically turn on the “keep warm” function. This allows you the luxury of coming home from work, and having dinner perfectly prepared.
Another useful feature offered in some models is a thermometer probe. The probe takes the guess work (and worry) out of determining if the meat is fully cooked. You simply insert the probe into the meat, and when the desired temperature is reached, the machine automatically switches to a low setting to keep the meal warm.
Here are two of the best with the features listed above.
Choose the Right Size
Make sure to use the right size pot. Larger sized pots, around 6 ½ quarts, feed about 8 or 9 people. Smaller ones, around 3 ½ quarts, feed about 4 people. Even if you don’t need a large amount of food, think about making it anyway. You can save money on lunches by freezing any leftovers.
Consider upgrading your existing model if it doesn’t offer features that make it useful to you. Crockpot cooking can help you stay on budget. It makes inexpensive meats taste like more expense cuts because the long cooking time tenderizes the meat. If you prepare dinner while making breakfast, you can avoid those last minute, money stealing decisions to dine out.
This best selling book “Fix it and Forget it Big Cookbook” by Phyllis Pellman Good, is one of my personal favorites. It has over 1400 recipes, and denotes which ones are healthier and lighter. You can probably find a copy at your local library.
A great online recipes source is allrecipes.com. This site has an ingredient search feature which allows you to find recipes based on which ingredients you have on hand.
How to Save Money
Cooking on a budget involves many things, weekly meal planning, savvy food shopping, and at home dining. The slow cooker has earned it’s place among the most frugal tools in the kitchen. From appetizers to desserts, the crockpot affords you the delicious opportunity to eat well and spend less.
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