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There was a time when I didn't know what a crockpot meal was. When I turned 25 my dad bought me a crockpot (or slow cooker) for my birthday. I immediately thought, does this make me officially old? I am getting cookware as a birthday present.
Having never used a slowcooker or made crockpot meals before and I couldn't figure out why he would think of this for me.
Afterall, I will admit, cooking in general is not my forte. Well, my daddy is much wiser than I will ever be (he also loves - like I do - things that have a purpose). Since I wouldn't want anything to go to waste (not using something like this is like throwing someone else's money right in the trash), I set out to learn about crockpot meals and why I should be making them.
I quickly discovered that there are many reasons you should be making crockpot meals and couldn't believe I hadn't been making them sooner! And as an added bonus, crockpot meals make awesome freezer meals.
Since that fateful birthday (where I now feel empowered with knowledge instead of just plain 'ol old), I use my crockpot at least once a week. Seriously, I do!
First, before we talk about all of the awesome reasons you should be making crockpot meals, let's quickly make sure we area all on the same page.
A crockpot or slow cooker is a ceramic pot that sits inside a metal "shell". The metal shell is the heat source (which plugs into to a regular outlet). The entire pot sits on your counter. The heat in a crockpot is much lower than your other "normal" cooking sources.
Now why should you be making crockpot meals?
If you don't have a crockpot or slow cooker yet, you should get one right away. They are well worth the $30 - $50 dollars! I have this crockpot and I LOVEEE it.
It has lasted me a really long time (not telling you exactly how long) and I use it all the time. There are also super nifty totally programmable crockpots for about $20 more, but they have some awesome features.
1.Nutrients & Flavor
Crockpot cooking helps to hold in the nutrients from your foods. It also really seals in all of the foods flavors. So you end up with extra delicious, nutrient dense meals.
Crockpots are great time savers. I used to make chili in a big pot on the stove. It would take hours and I would have to be HOME to go and check on it and stir it every so often.
With a crockpot, you do a little prep work. Then you throw all the ingredients into your crockpot and leave them.
Crockpot meals can be made super cheap. Since you are going to be cooking things LONG and SLOW, you can buy cheaper cuts of meat that aren't as tender. After they are done in the crockpot they will be super tender.
Crockpots also use less electricity than other cooking methods like ovens. If you are tracking your budget and need to make some cuts in your food expenses, crockpot meals are a great way to do it!
4. Complete Meals
Crockpot meals are easy to make as complete meals with all of your food groups. I will admit, many times I might just eat a protein and starch, like this beef chilli, or just a starch and vegetable.
Whatever is easiest to get cooked. With crockpot meals, you toss everything all in together, so you can make sure you are eating healthy, complete meals.
What things can you cook in a crockpot?
This may sound like a cop out (crock out?) but you can really cook just about anything. The best things to cook are foods that you want to be tender.
So, things like roasts, ribs, vegetables, beans. But you can really use your imagination and try things out.
Can you put raw meat in a crockpot?
Absolutely! In fact, slow cooking a nice roast or other large piece of meat is an excellent way to keep it tender and juicy. Just follow FDA safety guidelines for internal temperature.
What is the easiest thing to cook in a crockpot?
That really depends on what your cooking goals are at the time. Do you want to meal prep, dinner to be ready when you get home from work, a tasty hot dessert?
The crockpot makes just about every recipe easy. Here's a whole list of recipes that only require 3 ingredients.
Do you have any other reasons you should be making crockpot meals? Drop them in the comments below!
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