Many of us want to eat healthy home cooked meals and stay on budget. The question is how. Based on sales, the Hamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget Programmable Cooker holds the answer, and is one of the best slow cookers on the market today. This best seller offers 6-quart programmability with an LED digital control panel. Up to 80% of American households own a slow cooker (also called a crock pot), but how many are getting the full benefit from their usage? You will, after reading about all the help this easy to use slow cooker offers you with meal preparation.
What features makes this model the best slow cooker?
Let’s start with the two features of this slow cooker that make it extremely convenient, an automatic “keep warm” function and a thermometer probe. This model combines programmable cooking modes with a “keep warm” function that makes it perfect for preparing food while you are away. You program the specific amount of cooking time, and after that time has passed, this cooker will automatically turn on the “keep warm” function, keeping your food from over cooking. And the keep warm setting goes for as long as 14 hours. Imagine coming home from work, and having dinner perfectly prepared and waiting to be served.
The second best feature found in this cooker is it’s 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 cooker automatically switches to a low setting to keep the meal warm. When using the probe mode, instead of specifying a time, you select a finished temperature, usually between 145-180 degrees Fahrenheit. The probe is perfect when cooking a large cut of meat, or a dish that requires reaching a certain temperature.
There is a total of three automatic cooking modes - program, manual, and probe, all entered using the flat-panel push-button control panel. Use the program mode if you are going to be away while your food is cooking. The manual mode, a more traditional setting, for reheating foods and the probe when you need to control the temperature.
Which size pot is right for me?
It’s important to select a slow cooker that is the right size for your needs. This Hamilton Beach slow cooker is a 6 quart size, perfect for feeding around 8 or 9 people. It measures approximately 10-2/5 by 16 by 16 inches. Even if you don’t think you will need to cook this large an amount of food, you can save money on lunches by freezing any leftovers. If you want to go smaller, try the 3 ½ quart sized cooker, it will feed around 4 people.
If you ever had to transport a dish to a social function, say an office party, then you know how challenging it can be to get your dish from your home to the party without spilling. The clip-tight gasket lid solves that problem, as the lid snaps tight preventing any leaks. No more spills on you or your car’s upholstery.
The stainless-steel housing is accented with black, making this an attractive accessory in any kitchen, but especially pleasing when paired with stainless steel appliances. Hamilton Beach offers a white slow cooker (see pic below), which also offers the same great features, and works well with all kitchen colors.
The removable stoneware crock and tempered-glass lid are dishwasher safe. The crock itself is microwave safe, and ovenproof. You can put the crock in the frig, and the next day, stick it in the microwave to heat up any leftovers for lunch.
Other features in this model are it’s power-interrupt protection, an easy to read instruction manual with great crock pot recipes and a limited one year warranty.
Using a crock pot/slow cooker doesn’t require any advance cooking skills. Even beginner cooks will prepare delicious meals. Great crock pot recipes can be found for free online, and in cookbooks from your local library.
I love the fact that slow cooker/crock pot cooking in general makes saving money on food easier to accomplish. Slow Cookers make inexpensive meats taste like more expense cuts because the slow cooking process tenderizes the meat. If you prepare dinner while making breakfast, you can avoid those last minute, money stealing decisions to dine out.
Best Slow Cooker Possible Drawbacks
One concern reviewers have expressed has been that the cord should have been longer. The manufacturer states that they made the cord shorter to avoid a tripping hazard. An extension cord can safely be used with this product.
Some reviews did not like that you cannot switch between modes. You can program it to be on low for 4 hrs and then it will auto switch to warm to keep food from getting cold, but you are not able to set it 4 hrs on high and then 4 on low as a programmable item.
It will not allow you to set a start time in the future. It only lets you program how long it will need to cook and then it go into the keep warm cycle. For example, it is not possible to leave for work at 8:00 a.m. and set the cooker to start at 10:00 a.m. Would you really want raw food sitting out in the crock for long periods of time anyway?
I recommend this model as the best slow cooker, and slow cooker cooking in general as a great way to save money on food. The slow cooker has earned it’s place among the most frugal tools in the kitchen. Along with weekly meal planning, savvy food shopping, and at home dining, the slow cooker supplies one more piece to the budget cooking puzzle. This specific slow cooker model has many great features, costs under $50.00, and is available both online and in stores. My advice is to either buy this crock pot/slow cooker, or dust off your existing crock pot. You will not only save food dollars, but make dinner as nice for the cook, as it is for the diners.
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