- Food and Cooking
Crock Pot Ideas: Save Time and Money
One of the most practical, and best tasting, ways that I’ve found to save both time and money has been by using my favorite kitchen appliance, the crock-pot. Sometimes knows as a slow cooker, this kitchen appliance has helped me make great meals for my family.
The crock-pot is an incredible help to any household cook, but to the working mom, it’s a lifesaver. Simply put in some meat with some water or sauce, turn it on low and then presto! You have the main course already prepared for dinner when you come home.
Few women would doubt the time saving convenience of the crock-pot. Many of us have used it at least on occasion. But how can using the crock-pot save money as well?
Personally, I can save money because using the crock-pot allows me to purchase a cheaper cut of meat, and still get fantastic results. One of my favorite things to cook in the crock-pot is steak for steak tacos. Steak can be a very expensive cut of meat. If you’ve tried to skimp on the cost of steak and grill a less expensive cut, then you’ll know how tough it can be. With the crock-pot, however, I can slow cook steaks that would normally be tough on the grill and they will turn out as juicy and tender and delicious as any well cut steak.
The same is true for chicken. Chicken can often be bought in bulk packs of frozen cuts for a fairly low price. Sometimes, however, these packages of chicken aren’t really the best quality. In the crock, pot, however, chicken that is cooked slowly comes out tender and moist.
There are countless ways to utilize the crock-pot. While my crock-pot is a well used appliance in my kitchen, I know that I’m still not using it to its fullest potential. Crock-pots can be used for meat, vegetables, sauces, and soups. I primarily use it to slow cook the meat while I’m at work during the day and then prepare vegetables and side dishes when I get home. Not only do I use it for steak and chicken, I also cook roast beef, roast pork, and ribs.
Here are some simple crock-pot ideas for slow cooking meals:
Using a tough, inexpensive cut of steak, you can create some incredible steak tacos or steak sandwiches. Simply place the steak in the crock-pot with some water and seasoning and let it cook on low all day.
For tacos, I’ll sprinkle some Lowry’s Taco Seasoning in with the water. For steak sandwiches, I’ll sprinkle some McCormick’s Grill Mate seasoning. You could use your own seasoning for either. Just make sure there is some water in it as well.
After about eight hours, the steak will be so tender that you can easily shred it with a fork. Add a little sauce or seasoning, and you have a great main course for your meal.
You can also cook cube steaks in the crock-pot. By slow cooking cube steaks with a can of cream of mushroom soup, you’ll have your meat and gravy already prepared. (No need to add water when using condensed soups)
For chicken, I almost always cook a double batch and then freeze half of the meat after it cooks. This is a great time saver for the next meal.
- You can slow cook the chicken with chicken stock to make chicken and noodle soup, or to mix it with pasta or rice. You can also use it for a great chicken salad.
- By slow cooking the chicken with any condensed soup, such as cream of chicken or cream of mushroom, you can create a delicious entre to serve over pasta or rice.
- With taco seasoning, you can create some great chicken tacos, chicken taco salad, or a chicken burrito bowl with rice and salsa.
- Slow cooking the chicken in barbeque sauce will make some incredible BBQ chicken sandwiches. This is a great main course when having guests.
Beef or Pork Roast:
Vegetables are often slow-cooked in the crock-pot with either of these meats. I usually don’t add the vegetables for a couple of reasons. For one, I never have time to cut and prepare them in the morning before work. The second reason, is I think they taste better cooked separately and then added later.
Simply place the roast in the crock-pot with some water and salt and pepper, or your favorite seasoning and let it slow cook all day. Once the roast is done, you can shred it for beef stew, beef and noodles, beef stroganoff, or beef and rice. You can also simply slice the roast and serve it with your favorite vegetables or side dishes.
Ribs can be tricky to grill but always turn out great in the crock-pot. I always cook ribs with barbeque sauce to make some delicious pulled pork sandwiches. The meat is always tender and juicy.
As you can see there are several ways to use your crock-pot to save both time and money. By purchasing less expensive cuts of meat, or stocking up during sales, you can still prepare some amazing meals for your family.
How do you use your crock-pot? If you have any family favorites, be sure to share them with us in the comment section below. If you haven’t used your crock-pot in a while, why not break it out and give some of these ideas a try?