Cooking for your family gets even better when you can shop on a budget and make healthful meals at the same time. But, it also helps to have some kitchen tools to make the cooking process even easier. Your slow cooker is the answer.
How can your crockpot help? From easy meals that you set and forget to stretching your budget by using inexpensive ingredients to create delicious meals, your slow cooker is a go-to for healthy eating on a budget.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how to use a slow cooker to make your life a little easier.
Save On Meat
When you're using a slow cooker, you're cooking at lower temperatures slowly. The advantage is that you can use cuts of meat that are less expensive and the meal still turns out great because the cooking process makes everything super tender. Cooking these cuts of meat using the oven or other traditional methods doesn't yield the same tender results. Cuts of meat like flank steak are often leaner and therefore healthier, too.
Want to give slow-cooked flank steak a try? Check out our Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli recipe. Made with flank steak, broccoli florets, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha and a few other ingredients, this recipe goes great with white or jasmine rice.
How to Use a Slow cooker to Cook in Bulk
This tip is a great way to save money with your slow cooker. Buy meats when they're on sale, and make larger batches of your slow cooker recipes to have for dinner one night and freeze the rest for later. Many slow cookers are large enough to cook five pounds of meat at a time, some even more.
Here are some slow cooker recipes that are easy to freeze (in an airtight container) and eat for another meal:
Use Beans and Rice
Dried beans are not only healthy, but they're also a very inexpensive, yet filling ingredient. However, it takes a lot of work to cook dried beans on the stove, and the process involves several steps like soaking before cooking.
But, when you're using a slow cooker, you can throw the beans in with water or stock and slowly cook them until they're tender. Use beans in soups and stews or mixed with rice or quinoa for a healthy side dish.
You can also make filling and budget-friendly dishes with rice in your crockpot. Our recipe for Slow Cooker Wild Rice Soup is a great example. Creamy and savory, this soup is fantastic for cooler weather!
Plan & Save
It’s true - one of the best ways to eat healthily is to plan your meals. This also results in savings because you buy what you need and use it for the meals rather than throwing away spoiled food at the end of the week. It also helps you to eat homemade food rather than ordering out because you're too tired to cook.
Also, by planning out your meals, you can plan to use your slow cooker ahead of time. That way, you can prep everything and put it in the crockpot in the morning (or even the night before) and let it cook while you go about your busy day. Then, your dish is ready to eat at dinner time. What a relief after a long day, right? Plus, you will walk into a house that smells absolutely delicious!
Spend Less on Utilities
Did you know? Slow cookers are actually very efficient! That means you use fewer resources like electricity and gas when cooking. Plus, cleanup takes much less time with one-pot cooking, too, which also leads to savings on your water bill — and frees up your time in the process.
How to Use a Slow Cooker to Enjoy Healthy Ingredients
You don't need oil and fats to create amazing flavor in a slow cooker. The low and slow method concentrates the flavors of the spices you add and leads to taste without the added calories. Also, using lean cuts of meat, spices, fresh veggies, and low-calorie broths results in healthier meals filled with flavor and packed with good nutrition.
For instance, try this Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken! Made with chicken breasts, lime juice, salsa, taco seasoning and cilantro, this flavor-packed dish is proof that extra oil and fats aren’t necessary to create a tasty dish in a crockpot. Plus, with only five affordable ingredients, this recipe is also wallet-friendly.
More Slow Cooker Tips
With these tips, you now know how to use a slow cooker to spend less and eat better. But, those aren’t all the tips we have! Here are some additional crockpot hacks:
- Avoid opening the lid as much as possible. Just like when you open the door to the oven, the heat escapes and slows down the cooking process.
- Use crockpot liners to make the clean-up process even easier. Simply put the lining in before adding your ingredients. Then, when you and your family are done eating dinner and you’ve put the leftovers in a container, throw the liner away. That definitely makes life a little easier, right?
- If your slow cooker doesn’t have a timer option that allows the crockpot to switch to a “warm” setting after time is up, make sure to set a timer on your phone if you’re planning to leave the house to avoid overcooking your dish.
Ready to start cooking? We hope our slow cooker tips help you craft the perfect meal that you and your family will love!