After a long, busy day at work, it's all anyone can do not to fall behind. And upon returning from the daily grind, one's heart (and stomach) hopes for a meal ready on the table. Only, there isn't one, and once again, it's back three spaces. Takeout? No way. Not again. Not with that New Year's resolution still fresh on the mind. Resigned, it's back to the microwave with a frozen dinner that promises to be marginally healthier.
How can one keep this sad situation from happening again? There's a solution — why, the slow cooker, of course. It was once popular, and while it hasn't caught on quite like the microwave, it should — and its popularity isn't quite as tame as one would initially believe. After all, there's even a brand, Crock-Pot, which has become synonymous with the appliance.
But hold on, let's back up: What, exactly, is a slow cooker?
Click here to see What Is… a Slow Cooker? Go ahead and read. We'll still be here when you come back.
So as anyone can see, with a little planning and a modest investment, a true home-cooked meal can be had for very little work. A 6-quart model can be had for just shy of $30, and a programmable one shouldn't run north of $45. Just think of the possibilities! Imagine coming home to everything from a stick-to-your-ribs beef stew full of fresh ingredients, to a comforting, garlicky Spanish soup.
Dishes that would ordinarily take hours on the stove (in other words, things that busy people would never dare make on a weeknight) are cooked to perfection at a steady rate, leaving the rest of the day open to everything else that has to get done. Serve these meals with a quick salad, some warm crusty bread, or a side of vegetables and save the leftovers for the next day for lunch. That's a winner.
The delicious aroma of a slow-cooked soup when I come home is one of the most delicious and comforting smells in the world...
— Megan Watson
This is a super meaty beef stew that has more of a clear broth than the gravy-like Dinty Moore version...
— Valaer Murray
A tasty and satisfying one-pot meal doesn't really get any easier than this...
— Heather Tallman
This is the chicken soup of our collective childhood consciousness on steroids...
— Claire Bullen
Braised short ribs are the ultimate comfort food, in my book...
— Allison Beck
With chili, the longer it cooks, the more the flavors marry together...
— Erin Swing