Do you want tasty budget meals with least possible effort? Think slow cooking!
Using a crockpot, or slow cooker to cook your food helps save on total meal preparation. It’s easy and healthier option that can help you and your family to eat delicious, homemade meals. After adding all the ingredients into your slow cooker, you can let the meal cook while you are engaged in some other activities. Additionally, foods cooked this way may have more flavor due to the longer cooking time. Cooking in a slow cooker will improve the nutrient content of your meals by controlling the ingredients added.
Apart from being a healthier option, slow cooking can also save you time and energy. Slow cookers use significantly less energy than a conventional electric oven. Below you can find the most significant benefits of slow-cooker:
- Increasing Nutrients
You have control over the nutrient profile of the meal as with any cooking technique used at home. For example, adding more vegetables than required in the recipe increases the nutrients while preparing a meal which is more filling because of the fiber and bulk of veggies.
When tough slices of meat are used, the moist cooking method and longer cooking time result in meats which are fork tender without the addition of tenderizers or fat. Besides, these more tough cuts are usually lower in fat, helping to lower the calorie content of the meal and the overall fat.
- Nutrient Loss
With all cooking techniques, there may be a breakdown in nutrients, even though a few nutrients as lycopene turn out to be more available with processing. The advantage of slow cooking over other methods is that the food is cooked at a relatively low heat for a longer period of time. This lower heat cannot destroy as many nutrients as other cooking approaches such as boiling or steaming. Another benefit of slow cooking is the fact that the nutrients can be recaptured when the resulting juices or sauces are served with the meal.
- Limiting Processed Foods
Using a slow cooker, you can reduce your intake of processed foods. Reducing the intake of processed foods decreases the consumption of fat, sodium, and calories in your diet. Foods that you may have bought from the frozen or boxed section of the store can be made at home with your slow cooker. For instance, you can find slow cooker recipes for roasts, soups, casseroles, and baked desserts. You are only limited by your own creativity. Decreasing these nutrients also increases the ratio of calories to nutrients or the nutrient density of the meal.
How Long Should You Cook It for?
If a meal usually takes:
- 15 to 30 minutes: cook it for 4 – 6 hours on Low or 1 to 2 hours on High
- 30 minutes to 1 hour: cook it for 5 – 7 hours on Low or 2 – 3 hours on High
- 1 to 2 hours: cook it for 6 – 8 hours on Low or 3 – 4 hours on High
- 2 to 4 hours: cook it for 8 – 12 hours on Low or 4 – 6 hours on High
Root veggies can take longer than meat and other veggies so put these close to the heat basis, at the bottom of the pot.
Without proper cooking in the slow cooker, the safety of your meal may be uncertain. Poor food handling makes the meal unsafe and depending on the method, may further decrease nutrients when they are exposed to bacteria or air. In order to ensure preparation of safe foods, you should follow recipes from reputable sources. 2
When buying a slow-cooker (usually referred to as a Crock-Po that is actually a brand name), factor in how many persons you cook for. Large, medium, and slow cookers are available. Most slow cookers have a ceramic interior.
Slow cooking is really popular nowadays. Slow cookers are cheap to purchase, economical to use and they are good for making the most of the budget ingredients. They require the minimal amount of effort and offer a healthier, low-fat cooking method.