Staying Frugal and Fit with Slow Cooker Cooking
by Maria Rost Rublee
Crockpot cooking has long been known for the convenience it offers cooks. Just stick everything in the crockpot, turn it on, and several hours later, you've got a great home-cooked meal. But did you know that crockery cooking can also be frugal and healthy?
The frugal side of crockpot cooking is easy to figure out. Since it cooks with slow, moist heat, crockpots can turn cheap, tough cuts of meat into tender, delicious meals. In fact, more expensive cuts of meat usually don't do too well in the crockpot! In addition, slowcooking lends itself to root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots -- also inexpensive -- turning them soft and tasty. The best money-saving aspect of crockery cooking is that because it's so easy, you can stop relying on prepared meals or takeout when your time is limited. If your crockpot has a removable liner, you can put everything together at night, put the crock in the refrigerator, and then start it in the morning. Dinner will be ready when you arrive home from work! Or, you can cook meals overnight, move the crock to the refrigerator in the morning, and then heat dinner up at night.
Crockpots also help you eat healthier, if you know how to utilize them. First, the moist heat of slowcooking doesn't require any oil or butter, saving on calories and fat grams. You can use BBQ sauce, broth, wine, or even water for crockpot dishes. And some recipes, such as for cooking a whole chicken, don't require any fluids at all. Second, when using a crockpot, all the vitamins from vegetables stay right in the pot, allowing you to serve nutrient-rich gravy with meals, instead of boiling them away. Third, you can successfully cook lower-fat meats, such as chicken, turkey and pork, in the crockpot -- although cooking times are usually less than those for beef. If you use a crockpot overnight and refrigerate the meal during the day, you can skim the fat off the top of the soup/gravy. Finally, the best healthy contribution of the crockpot is it allows you to make your family meals with your own two hands. You control what goes in and you can work with substitutions to change recipes to suit your family's needs.
Maria Rost Rublee is a Ph.D. student at George Washington University and Slowcooker List Owner. To join, send mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org