My fiance and I both love to cook, but we’re a bit hindered by our teeny tiny kitchen. The desk I’m currently sitting at to write this has about as much “counter” space as we have in the kitchen. When we buy a house, the kitchen will be one of the most important considerations. But for now, we’re happy to live in our extremely low rent house, even if that means we have to sacrifice the kitchen. In addition to a complete lack of counter space, we’re also running low on storage space to keep our appliances while they’re not in use. So it was with much consideration that we decided to add to our fleet of appliances with a slow cooker.
A slow cooker is the best friend of someone who has little kitchen space, little time to cook, and is on a budget. Though many slow cooker recipe books will instruct you to do copious amounts of prep work, you can usually get the same great flavors, or close to them, with absolutely no prep work, meaning you have fewer dishes, and spend less time cooking. Take for instance the delicious corned beef brisket I made last week: the only utensils I used besides the slow cooker were a cutting board, a knife, and a measuring cup (which was only used to transfer tap water into the slow cooker). I prepared the ingredients in about 10 minutes prior to leaving for work. Cut an onion into 4 pieces, halve a few potatoes, chop up celery and carrots into large pieces, put them all into the slow cooker with the corned beef, pour water in, and set to cook for 8 hours while I’m off at work. It was the easiest meal I’ve ever made, and absolutely delicious. .
So it’s easy, a huge time saver, and doesn’t create a lot of dishes. But I also said a slow cooker was great for people on a budget. That’s because slow cookers allow you to turn the cheap cuts of meat into tender deliciousness. If you’re like me, you’d love to have a steak for dinner every night. But since I’ve got my sights set on financial freedom, it would be foolish of me to spend so much money on meat. If you pan sear or broil a steak, you’re cooking it so quickly that the fat doesn’t have sufficient time to melt into the meat, and the meat may remain tough. That’s why you need high quality cuts of beef if you’re going to cook them quickly. But when you leave it in a slow cooker for 8 hours, the fat has plenty of time to melt, and the cooking environment is moist, so even a tough piece of meat will come out tender and juicy. You can often purchase a 4 pound piece of chuck, shoulder, or brisket for well under $20, and make upwards of 8 meals out of it.
If you have not yet tried out a slow cooker, I highly recommend it. In fact, I’ve only found one down side to it: as someone who enjoys cooking, I don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment or pride serving food that came out of the slow cooker as I do when I slaved for hours in the kitchen.