Five months ago, I was standing in my kitchen with the cabinets open, looking around and doing mental math. My kitchen at home is small — just big enough to take a few steps while shooing my kids out. But I was condensing into an even smaller space: my husband and I were setting out on an RV trip, and our new rig had a kitchen that was hardly big enough for me to stand in.
As I stood there deciding what kitchen supplies would let me feed our family of four in a tiny space, I knew there was one appliance I wouldn’t be leaving behind: my slow cooker. Years earlier, when my grandma gifted me the slow cooker that had been collecting dust in her cabinets, I felt like a certified 1950s housewife. But since then the Crock Pot has become one of my favorite household items.
January is Slow Cooking Month (yep, there’s a month for everything). Although slow cookers might seem dated — after all, they’ve been around since 1936 — I’m in love with mine. Here’s why.
It Makes The Evenings Easier
No matter what I do, my kids are early risers. Which means that by 5 p.m. my younger child has turned from a sweet, if messy, little girl into an absolute beast. Even her sister knows that 5 o’clock is “baby meltdown time.” It’s all we can do at that point to get some food into her and keep her appeased until 6, when she can go to bed.
Because of that, it’s all-hands-on-deck in the evenings. I’ve just finished work, we might be returning from an afternoon adventure, then bam — baby meltdown. Which is when the crock pot becomes a lifesaver. Since our mornings are so much easier I can take time to enjoy preparing a meal, rather than scrambling to assemble one amid the shrieks.
I’ve thought a time or two about getting on the Instant Pot bandwagon. But then, I just look at all those buttons, and my head hurts. I don’t have the time, bandwidth or frankly desire to spend even an hour learning how to operate a new machine… let alone taking the risk of bungling dinner.
My Crock Pot has three settings: High, low and warm. There’s not even a light to tell me that it’s on — I have to carefully hover my hand to feel for heat. Although it might be dated, that’s a simplicity that I can embrace.
It Sets My Husband Up For Success Cooking
I’m the family’s breadwinner and my husband stays at home with our girls, but in one way we fall into traditional gender roles: I do nearly all the cooking. Like many men, he just never learned the skills to whip up a meal on the fly.
However, he’s perfectly comfortable following a recipe. The crock pot lets him put together a dinner without any extra challenge, something we both appreciate.
It Lets Me Prepare Healthy Foods Easily
When my grandma first gave me a crockpot, my mom rolled her eyes, saying there was nothing healthy that I could whip up in a slow cooker. Luckily, I’ve proved her wrong. Sure, there are plenty of recipes that involve cream and butter, but there are also light persons that have tons of flavor.
One of my favorites is chili, which is as easy as dumping canned beans and frozen vegetables into the Crock Pot and switching it on. Another is pulled pork, combined with piles of shredded carrots, zucchini and summer squash, a meal that’s become so popular even my mom requests it.
Most moms are looking for anything that will make life easier. It turns out our grandmothers and even great-grandmothers had an answer the whole time. If there isn’t a slow cooker in your life, this is the month to give it a try — you might even find yourself a total convert, like me.
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Reviewed by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN…