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The reliable slow cooker is perhaps best known for saving time in the kitchen. But while we love the hands-off way they cook delicious smelling and complete meals while we’re busy, slow cookers have another benefit: keeping extra money in our wallets.
Fewer things are better than cost-saving kitchen tools that are convenient and can produce a comforting meal to feed the whole family, but the best slow cookers can do just that. And a slow cooker can make a difference in your monthly budget before you even use it the first time.
So, does a slow cooker save money? Yes, and in more ways than you think.
1. You Can Buy Cheaper Cuts Of Meat
Using less expensive meat actually works better when cooking with a slow cooker. The slow, low heat of the cooker breaks down tougher cuts of meat, and tougher cuts mean lower grocery bills. What are the best meat cuts for your slow cooker? Try chuck roasts, short ribs, pork shoulders, lamb shanks, chicken thighs or drumsticks.
If you plan to use this slow cooker tip often, opting for a model that allows you to sear, sauté, and braise at the same time is a good bet.Instant Pot’s Electric Round Dutch Oven does all of that while also being, you guessed it, a slow cooker. You can get that perfect sear without having to stand over your stovetop for hours.
Instant Precision 6-quart Electric Dutch Oven
2. You Can Turn One Recipe Into Multiple Meals To Stretch Your Budget
Cook once, eat two, even three times! That’s what good slow cooker recipes can do for you. Yes, it’s a time saver, but this tip also saves you money. Buying a full roaster chicken or large roast of any kind is usually cheaper by the pound overall. This saves on buying multiple packages of meat and other ingredients for meals.
One full chicken can be used for chicken and rice one night. The next day, how about some shredded barbecue chicken? You can even use the broth and bones to make a yummy slow-cooker chicken soup.
Of course, if you’re planning to make a large slow cooker meal or roast a particularly sizable piece of meat, you’ll want to ensure a slow cooker is large enough. Typically, the kitchen appliance comes in a six quart, but you can get up to a 10-quart slow cooker like Hamilton Beach’s oversized option.
Hamilton Beach 10-Quart Slow Cooker
3. You Can Save Money With Meal Planning
You need to plan your meals more carefully when using a slow cooker. You must have the proper ingredients to make those delicious dishes. That means you’ll likely figure out how to start meal planning. That’s what’ll save you the big bucks.
The key is to avoid impulse choices by having a list ready. When you do that, you can save money at the grocery store you might not have even realized you were spending. Also, by planning your meals and grocery list ahead of time, you won’t have to make multiple trips to the store. It’s hard to avoid those impulse buys if you’re shopping multiple times a week.
4. You Avoid The Dining-Out Trap
Eating out is fun and a great escape from the daily grind. However, the bills add up over time. Plus, the cost of eating out has been rising over the years, and there’s often a markup on restaurant food.
As a time saver, your slow cooker can have dinner ready for you when you get home so you can avoid the “What am I going to make for dinner?” dilemma. Enjoy a night at home with your ready-to-eat meal and stream a great show for your entertainment and you’ll undoubtedly save some money!
If you’re concerned that you and your family might miss the good old days of menu browsing, you can always create your own. There are great chalk and dry erase menu boards you can add to your refrigerator. Create your meal plan, and then, show some creativity with doodles and bright colors.
Magnetic Dry Erase Menu Board for Fridge
5. Slow Cookers Save On Energy Costs
Slow cookers not only save money on groceries, but they also use less energy than an electric oven.
On average, slow cookers’ energy expenditure is only about 200 watts to run for eight hours. This translates to a slow cooker only costing about 10 to 25 cents for a full day’s use — about the same as a light bulb. Comparatively, an electric oven could between 2,000 and 5,000 watts.
Also, slow cookers do not warm up the house the way using an oven can. This could save you some money in cooling your house during the hottest months of the year. Couple slow cooker use with other energy-saving products like a smart thermostat or smart timers, and you could make a serious dent in your monthly bills.
Amazon Smart Thermostat
As you make your 2024 goals, consider saving a little extra money and time by using a slow cooker in your regular meal prep routine. Your stress level will be lighter, and your wallet will be fuller by this time next year.
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.