Between all the days going on, it sure can be frustratingly hard to find the time to cook healthy meals for the family. In many instances, convenience takes over and this sacrifices our health and long-term goals.
This is where the fabulous slow cooker steps in as an essential kitchen appliance that can save you time and your sanity! Slow cooking takes preparation (as any meal does) but the reward is a lovely home-cooked meal that doesn’t take a lot of fussing overcome mealtime. Winning! Now that the weather is cooling down now is the time to dust off your slow cooker and get slow cooker savvy in 2016!
12 Tips To Get You Slow Cooker Savvy For Winter
1. Begin by making up a Pinterest board
Or collective of slow cooker recipes. Choose healthy versions that don’t need rich sauces and are bulked up with seasonal vegetables.
2. Prep your meals
Slow cooker meals are super easy to prep. Check your recipes, collect ingredients and chop them up accordingly. Throw it all in a freezer bag with instructions, making sure you thaw for about 12 hours before cooking and you are set!
3. Make enough for leftovers
Crockpots are big enough to usually cook double batches. Instead of potentially overeating a second helping, keep and freeze a meal for another night. You won’t regret it!
4. Brown your meat
The jury is out about this one, but I find it helps and lessens the cooking time. Browning the meat in a frypan before cooking seals in the meat and helps to keep flavour and tenderness.
5. Don’t be tempted to overfill your slow cooker
Aim to load up to 1/2-3/4 full to avoid spillage. Vegetables reduce down which adds water content to the product so keep this in mind.
6. Choose the right cut
Choose meats that are of cheaper cuts while avoiding lean meats. Any chicken is fine, but when it comes to other cuts of meat, bestrecipes.com.au suggests
for beef choose
- Chuck steak
- Round steak
- Blade steak
- Skirt steak
- Shin (gravy) beef
- Boneless shoulder
- Boneless forequarter
- Neck chops
- Leg roasts
- Diced pork shoulder
- Forequarter chops
- Pork neck
- Bone-in roasts
- Ham hock
- Osso Bucco (sliced veal shin)
7. Carbs and grains take less time
Rice for instance can take only 2 hours so add this in the last 2 hours. If this isn’t possible because you won’t be home, pre-cook the rice or have a handy pre-cooked rice sachet on hand so all you have to do is add before serving. Pasta is added in at about the last 30-minute mark.
8. Try meatless options
Buy up on beans and legumes, and rinse before cooking if you are using the canned variety to cut the sodium content.
9. Dairy Curdling
If your recipe calls for adding dairy (milk-cheese-yoghurt) don’t add it too soon as it will curdle!
10. Placement matters
Always add your vegetables to the base of the pot first then your meat to make sure your vegetables are cooked through.
11. Dry or Fresh?
Herbs make or break a meal so if you’re planning to use dried – they can withstand a couple of hours, whereas if you’re using fresh add them towards the end of the cooking process.
12. Keep a lid on it
Try to refrain from opening the lid (the aromas are so good, I know!) as slow cookers work by trapping heat.
13. Have fun!
Be experimental, and don’t get too caught up in the rules. It really can be a foolproof way of cooking.
Have you tried my slow cooker pulled pork?
pic via Williams Sonoma