It’s probably one of the most money saving appliances in your kitchen. If you know how to use it (and where to buy it), your crockpot can keep your family well fed and even decrease your energy bills. And your slow cooker can cook way more than chili! I own four crockpots and sometimes have all of them running at once. Follow this simple guide to save the most money with my favorite kitchen tool.
As with any appliance, it’s wise to seek a middle ground on any purchase you make. You don’t need the most expensive model and you may want to stay away from cheaper models with poor reviews. From the weeks just before Thanksgiving through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, November is the best month to purchase a crockpot or replace one you already own. Three of the four slow cookers I own were purchased for $4 a piece on Black Friday and served our family faithfully for years.
Bells and whistles like timers and special handles cause some models to stand out, but they may not be necessary for your family’s needs. Check out these deals on crockpots right now on Amazon (prices subject to change depending on when you read this post):
Consult the Experts
If you’re like me and fall into the rut of fixing the same 2 or 3 crockpot recipes over and over again, it’s time to get some fresh inspiration! Plenty of fantastic authors and bloggers cook up tasty ideas on a regular basis. Some of my favorite places to go include:
- Recipes That Crock: Cris and Mikey Goode, and their sidekick Sara James teach you how to make the most of your crock on their popular website and YouTube channel. You’ll come for the recipes but you’ll stay because they’re fun and hilarious. From trying out new and popular equipment to tried and true classics to out of the box recipes, they are foremost experts on making your slow cooker work for you! Be sure to follow them on Pinterest and Facebook, too.
- $50 ALDI Crockpot Meal Plan: Want to know which dishes we fix most frequently in our many crockpots? Check out my $50 ALDI Crockpot Meal Plan. You’ll be able to whip up six very simple meals for less than $50. There’s even a printable list for you to take to the grocery store with you! There are nine other ALDI meal plans on my site, too.
- Pinterest Ideas: When I don’t know what to cook, I often head to Pinterest for inspiration and recipes. I have two boards where I love to look over ideas. Check out crock o’ pot and Crockpot Pot Luck.
Move Beyond Soup
While soups and hearty slow cooked meats are the hallmark of crockpot cooking, I’ve found it indispensable for simple side dishes. Want to learn how to turn your slow cooker into a rice maker? Read Fixing Rice in Your Crockpot. You can also save a great deal of money soaking and cooking your own dried beans in a slow cooker. You can even fix breakfast overnight in your slow cooker. Check out these recipes for Oatmeal, French Toast, and even bread made right in your crockpot!
The Best Clean Up Methods
I’ll be honest, sometimes I forget to turn off my crockpot. I have been known to forget to turn it on, too but that’s another story for another day. When that happens, you may end up with a mess. Of course, the very best way to ensure you don’t have burnt food coating the sides of your slow cooker is to stir throughout the day. However, if you’re not at home, you want to consider first greasing the pot before turning it on. You can also buy liners that make clean up as simple as throwing away a little baggie. Check out these products to keep clean up easy:
- PanSaver EZ Clean Multi-Use Cooking Bags Slow Cooker Liners (25): $14.21
- Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners 2 Pack (8 Liners Total): $8.20
- Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners (Regular Size, 6 Count): $2.54
Other ways to make sure you don’t end up with a big ‘ole three days soaking in the sink mess?
- Clean It Out As Soon As Possible: There is nothing worse than a sticky, crusty slow cooker. So the sooner you can clean your appliance, the better.
- Use a Non-stick Spray or Butter: For some recipes, you’ll want to consider greasing your crock just like you would a dish you’d place in an oven. Depending your flavor and cooking preferences, you might consider a non-stick spray, butter, or even a light oil.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar: If you’ve really made a mess of things, you can fill it to the mess line with warm water. Then add 2 T baking soda, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, a squeeze of dish soap to the slow cooker slowly. Turn it on low for an hour and then come back to scrub.
The Best Slow Cooked Meats
I think I’ve always been intimated by cooking meat in my crockpot – I’ve been fearful of undercooking or overcooking. However, the more I use my slow cooker to cook large cuts of meat, the more I realize it really isn’t that difficult. Pay close attention to price per ounce when purchasing the meat you will cook. You’ll also want to consider whether or not the weight of the meat includes a significant amount of bone or not. If at all possible, cook the meat on the lowest temperature for the longest amount of time (think low and slow).
You don’t have to get incredibly fancy with your seasonings. In fact, sometimes I find that not adding anything but a bit of water allows the meat’s flavor to truly come to life. You seriously can’t mess this up. No matter if you choose to turn a pork loin into shredded pork (it simply falls apart after cooking all day long) or tossing frozen boneless, skinless chicken into the crockpot or if you’re adventuresome like me and attempt to cook a whole chicken for the first time, cooking meat in the crockpot, you can save a bundle of time and money by slow cooking your meat.
Just can’t get enough of your crockpot read these posts I’ve written:
- Crockpot Tips: When to Buy, What to Buy, How Much to Spend, & More!
- Think Outside the Crock: Creative Crockpot Recipes
- Shocking Ways to Save Money With Your Crockpot
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
This post contains an affiliate link. That means when you get a great deal or maybe even something for free, you also help our family pay off our mortgage early. And for that, we royally thank you!