When the weather turns cool, everyone digs into the back of the cabinet to retrieve their most treasured appliance.
The little miracle maid that sits on your counter all day long and cooks your meal for you while you are at work.
However, it goes most commonly by the name of slow-cooker or Crock-Pot.
I am guessing you might have a crush on the slow-cooker just as much as me. But when should you purchase one? How much should you spend? What kind should you get? And best of all what can you do with it to maximize your grocery budget this fall?
Best times to purchase:
If you do not already own a slow-cooker you love (or three if you’re like me), the news is good. We are headed toward the best time of the year to purchase one. The prices will begin to fall as we head toward Thanksgiving and then hit rock bottom on Black Friday. So if you can tough it out for now, keep scanning the deals as the days of September and October slip away.
How much should I spend?
This is really like asking a question akin to “How much should I spend on a car?” It simply depends most upon how much money you have in your budget for household items.
As a rule of thumb $20 to $30 is a decent price, but Black Friday usually brings the price down to $10 or even as little as $4 at the big box retail stores. I have three Crock-Pots, each purchased a different Black Friday for only $4 each. They all still work great, and I love them.
So while pricier models are certainly out there, be cautious because a basic slow-cooker can get the job done. All things are best in moderation.
What kind of slow-cooker?
You’ll go cross-eyed if you spend too much time on Amazon looking at slow-cookers. There are pots with multiple settings, locking lids, timers, three separate containers, accessories and every color, shape and size.
Think very practically about your purchase and ask yourself the following questions. How many people do you plan on feeding? Will you travel with the slow-cooker? Will it sit on the counter or be stored in the cabinet? Do you need a function such as a timer, or will you be home and able to tend to the slow-cooker yourself?
My best advice is don’t get carried away. A very basic model can get the job done. Be sure to read the reviews online before purchasing anything.
Think outside the soup pot.
Many people automatically think of soups when considering slow-cooker recipes. Or they think about slow cooking large portions of meat.
While both are yummy and useful, there are plenty of other amazing uses. You can use your pot to make baby food, cook breakfast overnight (we love to make French toast), bake bread, cook dried beans, use as a rice maker and even make crafts. Pinterest is a great place to find cooking ideas and inspiration.
Slow-cookers can certainly be a money saver, but don’t go in the hole by biting off more than you can chew (or even need). Maximize your time and money and come home to a yummy dinner at the end of a long day this fall.
Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. Send questions, column ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org