WHEN it comes to cooking, very few of us have the luxury of being able to spend hours in the kitchen each evening making dinner.
This means we often end up resorting to grabbing something on the go, or eating the same quick and easy meals more regularly than we'd like.
However, if you want to save yourself time, ironically one of the best tools you need is the slow cooker as you can just whack all your ingredients in and abandon it for hours.
When you come back, it's ready and waiting for you!
Slow cooker fanatic Stephanie, who writes about her obsession on her website, A Year Of Slow Cooking, says: "I really am a lazy cook.
"I prefer to assemble my crockpots early in the morning and then get on with my day.
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"My children are older now, but when they were younger it simply wasn't safe for me to be chopping onions or sautéing on the stove with toddlers around my ankles.
"I got really good at popping everything into the slow cooker, pressing a button, and walking away.
"As my kids grew up, our afternoons were filled with gymnastics and swimming and having the slow cooker do the heavy lifting meant we had dinner hot and ready for us which really saved us a bunch of time and money."
Here, Stephanie shares five of her favourite quick and easy slow cooker recipes…
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- Chicken of your choice – breasts, thighs
- Shop-bought sauce
- Rice, potatoes or pasta
One of my absolute favourite lazy ways to cook is called "lazy chicken" – you essentially just pop in frozen chicken pieces (breasts, thighs) with your favourite already-made sauce.
You can use pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, or any of the pre-made simmer sauces sold at your regular supermarket.
Put the meat into a four-quart slow cooker, cover with the sauce, cook on low for six to eight hours or on high for about three to four.
Shred the meat and serve over rice, potatoes, or pasta.
This recipe uses a lot of cans, but is a crowd-pleaser and potluck favourite.
I've served up to 24 people with this recipe (served over baked potatoes) and the ingredients all together are under £16 – approximately 70p per serving.
- 1 pound browned ground turkey or hamburger (optional)
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced (optional, brown with the ground meat)
- 2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans of corn
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomatoes and chiles
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 1 packet ranch dressing mix
- Shredded cheese and sour cream
- Brown the meat in a pan (if used).
- Drain fat from meat and add to crockpot.
- Sprinkle seasoning packets on top of meat.
- Drain and rinse the beans and add.
- Add the entire contents of the corn and tomato cans.
Cover and cook on low for eight to ten hours or on high for four to five.
This recipe serves six, and costs less than £8 – so less than £1.30 per serving.
- 1 pound lentils
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 small onions, peeled and diced
- 5 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups of water
Use a six-quart slow cooker. Rinse lentils well in hot water.
Put into the bottom of your slow cooker with the entire can of tomatoes.
Add onions, garlic, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and spices.
Pour in water.
Cover and cook on low for eight hours, or on high for four to five.
Add a bit more salt to taste at the table.
This recipe serves six to eight and pork shoulder can be stretched over rice or in corn tortillas too.
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1kg pork shoulder
- 7 cloves garlic (whole intact)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- corn tortillas
- sour cream, salsa, sliced avocado (optional)
Use a six-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the salt and cumin.
Rub mixture all over the pork, then pop into the slow cooker.
Add whole garlic cloves. Squeeze on the citrus, and pour the beef broth evenly over the top.
Cook on low for eight to ten hours, or until the pork shreds quite easily with a fork.
If your meat is still fully intact after eight hours, remove and cut into chunks, then return to the crock and flip to high for about an hour or two.
Shred meat fully and serve on warmed corn tortillas with desired toppings.
Baked Maple Apple Halves
This is a dessert recipe, that serves four.
- 2 large apples, cored and cut in half (I used Fuji)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons whipped cream (from a can!)
Use a six-quart slow cooker.
Put apple halves into the bottom of your slow cooker, flesh-side up. In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave.
Stir in orange juice and maple syrup.
Spoon butter and syrup mixture evenly into the apple halves.
Cover and cook on low for two to three hours, or on high for one to two.
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