Tips On Slow Cooking For The Family
Sometimes there are simply not being enough hours in the day to meet the demands of a family, which can sometimes make cooking tasty meals from scratch a real challenge. With this in mind it’s no surprise that slow cooking has become increasingly popular in recent years, giving us the freedom to spend quality time with the children rather than slaving over a hot stove for hours on end.
Slow cookers can be picked up at your local supermarket or department store at very reasonable prices and with so many varieties available there’s sure to be one that suits you and your family’s needs.
Here are just some of the reasons we love slow cooking:
- It’s a convenient way of cooking cheap cuts of meat to create dishes that offer superb depth of flavour but don’t tug at the purse strings. Popular cuts include beef shin and chuck, pork belly and shoulder, lamb neck fillets and chicken thighs
- These types of meal are particularly toddler/pre-schooler friendly with tender meat, soft vegetables and tasty sauces. If cooking for a little one remember to add the salt at the end for you and any other adults
- Once a slow cooker is on you can get on with everything else you need to, there’s no need to stand over it and stir. So if you need to pop to the shops, a slow cooker on a low setting is fine to be left
- You can make big portions some of which can then be frozen for another day. Perfect for weekends when you want to spend time together with no need to cook
- Dinner can be prepared at a quiet time during the day, like during a baby’s morning or afternoon nap, which saves stress during the busy early evening dinner and bedtime routine. If you’re super organised you can put it on just before going to bed so that the meal is already cooked for the next day
- Meals can be kept warm for hours without the risk of burning or being ruined. So there’s no need to worry if you’re delayed coming back from the school run or get caught up in your favourite TV show, it will be ready whenever you are
- Most slow cooking recipes are packed full of vegetables, beans or lentils to help you all towards your 5 a day without even noticing
It’s really simple to get to grips with slow cooking and once you’ve tried a few recipes you’ll have the confidence to create your own masterpieces in no time. Here are some tips to get started.
- Even if you have a small family, consider getting a larger sized slow cooker than you think you need. They don’t cost much more and you’ll then be able to use it to cook larger batches for when you have family over or even a party
- Most slow cookers come with their own recipe suggestions that are a great way to get started. A quick search on the internet will show you recipe books with the best reviews which will open up a whole world of new menu possibilities!
- If possible, choose a model with a digital display, high, low and warm temperature settings and a timer to give you maximum control over how and when your recipes are cooked
- Some slow cookers may vary but in general you should turn the cooker on to warm up about 20 minutes before you want to add the food. This usually gives you plenty of time to do your chopping and prepping and then it’s ready to go
- To make washing up easier, when doing sticky recipies grease the inside of the cooker before you start
- Remember, depending on your model, the outside and the lid of your cooker can get very hot so make sure it is out of children’s reach
- Due to the lower temperature not as much water evaporates from a slow cooker as it does from a saucepan or a casserole dish in the oven, so don’t add too much water/stock at the beginning. You’ll quickly learn to judge by eye how much liquid each recipe requires
- Slow cooker recipes are generally very forgiving when it comes to ingredients. If you happen to have a little more or less than a recipe suggests, then just go with it and you can often substitute ingredients for something similar without it causing a problem. Got some mushrooms hanging around in the fridge? Pop them in. Got onions but no shallots? No one will know the difference and you could well create something tastier than the original.
The best advice is to experiment. Once you’ve used it a couple of times you’ll start to think of flavour combinations that would work with this type of cooking so don’t be nervous about trying them out. If you like all the ingredients you’re adding it’s bound to taste nice at the end.