A slow cooker is an essential tool in any busy mom’s toolbox. They can help get delicious healthy meals on the table without much fuss. Busy moms need to have quick dinner ideas and easy recipes to help make meal planning easier.
Here are some tips on using your slow cooker:
- Choose the right size for your family. For a 3-6 person family, a 6 quart slow cooker should be sufficient.
- Don’t over-fill your slow cooker. It’s best to keep it 1/2 to 3/4 full. Any more and it won’t cook properly. Any less and your food may burn.
- Keep a lid on it. It takes 20 minutes to build up heat in a slow cooker. By removing the lid during cooking, you will let all of the heat out and increase your cooking time.
- Less expensive, tougher cuts of meat work best in the slow cooker. It’s always best to cook on low for 6-8 hours rather than on high for 3-4 hours. Remember… low and slow.
- You can add frozen chicken breasts to a slow cooker. They cook perfectly. I promise!
- browning or searing your meat before placing it in the slow cooker will increase the flavor the dish. However,in many recipes (with the exception of ground beef recipes) you can skip this step and not affect the flavor too much.
- Cut all of your vegetables the same size so that they will cook evenly.
- Dairy products will usually separate when used in a slow cooker. It’s best to add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Herbs that are fresh or whole will increase the flavor of your recipes, but dried herbs and seasonings will lose flavor. Add dried herbs and seasonings during the last hour of cooking. As with all cooking, check your seasoning before serving and make any adjustments.
- The liquid in your dish will not reduce. You may need to thicken sauces after your dish has finished cooking.
- A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is one hour on high equals about 2 to 2.5 hours on low.
- Make clean up a snap by using disposable liners. They are easy to use, convenient and they don’t affect the flavor of your dish.
I have put together a list of my favorite easy crock pot recipes to help you make the most of this handy gadget. Make sure you check out my Slow Cooker Beer Braised Short Ribs — it’s the most popular recipe on It’s a Keeper!
When it comes to slow cookers, there are many options available – from the basic to the ultra fancy. My favorite is the Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. I have had a number of slow cookers over the years and this is by far my favorite. It’s easy to use and program. It’s just the right size and it has handy clips that hold the lid on securely while you’re traveling.
Here are some slow cooker accessories you might like too:
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