Why I'm Obsessed with My Slow Cooker

Why I'm Obsessed with My Slow Cooker

For me, one of life’s biggest mysteries is why everyone doesn’t use a slow cooker every single day! They are undoubtedly one of the handiest yet most underrated kitchen gadgets. Let me tell you why...

It literally could not get any easier. Dump and run – no checking, no monitoring, no stirring. Set and forget. Everyone can cook!

It frees up time. Slow cooking is by far the quickest form of cooking (in a roundabout way!), as once everything’s in the pot you’re free to not only manage something else in the kitchen but to leave the house entirely! Or sleep. Or do whatever you need to do. The slow cooker doesn’t need you – spend your time doing something that brings you joy.

Meals are ready when you want them. Breakfast is ready to eat when you wake up in the morning, lunch is ready to be ladled hot into a food flask or thermos before heading out for the day, and dinner is ready to serve when you walk in the door at night. Even the speediest microwave meal (eek!) can’t do that.

Your meals are healthier. Slow cookers cook on a low heat, which means more of the ingredients' nutrients are retained without any potentially carcinogenic burnt bits. High temperatures can cause a 30 per cent loss of the vitamin content of some vegetables, whereas cooking them low and slow preserves those nutrients. Food is also often easier to digest when cooked slowly. Not to mention your meals will be healthier simply by virtue of the fact that you cooked them yourself!

Your food has more flavour. Literally, as there’s no evaporation of volatile compounds – all the flavours stay right in the pot. Vegetables taste sweeter slow cooked, while grains, beans and legumes cook to tender perfection and taste far superior than anything coming out of a can (which, let’s be honest, is what we'd be using without a slow cooker).

You can’t stuff it up. Slow cooking is incredibly forgiving! Where a stove or oven can take a dish from perfection to charcoal in a matter of minutes, a slow cooker isn’t fazed if the phone rings right as you’re due to serve it up. You couldn’t stuff this up if you tried.

They’re cheap to buy. You’ll spend between $50 and $250, and you’ll have your slow cooker for life! They really are very accessible.

They’re cheap to run. Slow cookers use much less power than other forms of cooking – just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb – making them good for your wallet and the environment. You’ll also often be running them during the day, so you’ll be using power at a low-demand (aka cheaper) time. They also won’t heat up your kitchen in summer, so the air conditioner won’t need a run either.

You can leave it on. Unlike the iron or hair straightener you’re forever petrified you've left on, the slow cooker is perfectly fine to continue working its magic while you’re out. For people who spend most of their day away from home, this feature cannot be overstated!

You can bulk cook. Most slow cooked food freezes really well, meaning you cook when you’ve got the time and energy, and when you don’t, you heat up something delicious and nutritious from the freezer. To my mind, it's the ultimate way to run your kitchen – it’s no more effort to cook 2 L of soup than one, so why not? Defrost and reheat it a month later, and you’ll never feel like you’re eating the same meal twice. It’s almost like ordering takeaway, but without the cost, wait time and unhealthy ingredients, right? All the recipes in my cookbook ‘Modern Slow Cooker that a freezer-friendly are labelled as such.

Dirty dishes are kept to a minimum. Most of the time you’re only dirtying your slow cooker insert, a chopping board and a knife . . . meaning there’s barely any washing up (phew!). Sometimes you’ll also need a frypan, and occasionally a food processor or blender, but really it’s pretty low key. Fewer dishes equals more quality time with loved ones around the dinner table. Recipes that only use the slow cooker insert I call my ‘one pot wonders’, and these are labelled accordingly in my book ‘Modern Slow Cooker.

Your shopping bill will be low. Slow cookers generally do best with ingredients that are cheap to buy – root vegetables, apples, cooking tomatoes, dried lentils, beans, grains and pulses. Many of the recipes in this book will cost you around $10 to shop for and will feed six. Compare that to a quick sizzle-on-the-stove recipe and it seems cheap; compare that to ordering takeaway and you’re laughing!

Whether you’re a great cook or a novice, whether you love or hate cooking, the slow cooker will make your life a whole lot easier. You’ll be saving money, reclaiming precious time, eating healthier and doing your bit for the environment. What’s not to love? You just need the right recipes…