How To Choose The Right Crock Pot
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Are you ready to give cooking in a crock pot a try? It’s a wonderful way to prepare your family’s meals without having to spend hours in the kitchen actively cooking. This is truly a time saver, and if your life is crazy hectic, you need to use it more often.
What if you could make a pot of beef stew that tastes like you’ve slaved for hours over the stove? When all it really took was dumping a few ingredients into your crock pot and turning it on.
And if your finances are tight, even the toughest cheap cuts of meat will come out tender and tasting like it cost more. Here at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs we are always looking for ways to EMPOWER you towards a HOPE and a FUTURE. A crock pot might be one of those empowering tools for you and your kitchen.
And since you’re only using one pot, clean-up is a breeze as well. And if you don’t like washing dishes, then this should become your favorite way to cook meals.
Take It For A Test Run
Start with any crock pot you currently have and make it work for the immediate time being. Maybe you inherited it from your mom or grandmother when they were commonly used in the 1970’s. You know what I mean, that dusty pot stuck in the back corner of your cupboard.
Take it for a test run and see if:
- you like the dishes it creates
- and if slow cooking works well for you and your family.
One way to take the crock pot you currently have for such a test run is to join us for our 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge. A month of tips, ideas and recipes to help you get the feel for your crock pot. This challenge would certainly help you decide if crock pot cooking is for you.
You can join here:
If you decide crock pot cooking is for you and you are ready to shop for a new model, use the tips below to guide you in your purchasing decision.
Slow Cooker Sizes
Firstly, you need to answer a few basic questions.
How many people are you feeding? Are you cooking for 2 or as many as 7 people in your family? This information is needed in order to determine whether you only need a 4 quart crock pot or one as large as 6-8 quarts instead.
And are you planning on making mostly:
- main meals,
- soups and stews
- desserts, such as steamed puddings
- or cooking the entire turkey.
For a family of four to six people, a six quart model will be your best bet.
If you’re doing a lot of cooking for crowds (community gathering anyone?), you may want to go with a bigger model. They can be purchased in sizes as big as 22 quarts.
However, if you’re cooking for two, or only plan to make side dishes and desserts in the crock pot, a four quart one will suffice.
If you’re not sure what to get, go in the middle and stick with the standard six quart version.
There are quite a few different brands out there that make quality crock pots. Favorites include:
- Crock-Pot (of course…),
- Hamilton Beach,
- and Kitchen-Aid.
Sticking with a popular brand not only guarantees you’ll get a quality product, it also makes it easier to find parts down the road, should for example the lid fall and break.
Used or New?
One question we haven’t addressed yet is if you even need to buy a new crock pot at all. As mentioned earlier, start with what you got.
After that, it’s perfectly fine to look for a used model. After all, remember, we are here to give you ideas on easing the financial stress in your life.
You can find crock pots very inexpensively at your local thrift store or even a local community fund raiser yard sale.
You may even have a friend or family member who will be willing to give you theirs. So many people have a crock pot sitting in the back of their kitchen cabinet and never use it. Ask around, you may get blessed with a free one.
However, don’t be surprised if they ask for it back once they see, smell and taste some of the amazing meals you’re making in it. Remember to join our 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge for recipes to get you started.
How Much Can You Afford To Spend?
Admittedly, there are some fancy crock pot models on the market today. The prices range anywhere:
- from $13.77 at Walmart for the basic models
- to as high as $139.98 for the deluxe ones.
These very affordable basic models may only have a high or low cooking feature, but they may do everything you need your slow cooker to do. What have you been learning from the 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge test run?
Remember, the more functions or added features, the more expensive your crock pot will be.
What Bells And Whistles Do You Really Need?
Think about what functions you really need. Some of the functions available include:
- Retractable Cords
- Keep Warm feature
- Programmable Timer
- Adjustable Temperature
- Removable Liner
Retractable cords are nice, but it’s also not that hard to tuck the cord under the slow cooker when you store it.
Having a “keep warm” feature can be helpful.
Do you need a programmable timer so the chili can start cooking itself even if you’re out running errands or just getting back to the office after a quick lunch?
Take a look at what’s on the market and decide what you can and can’t live without. Remember, is it a “need” or a “want”.
If this is your first slow cooker, start with a very basic model. You can always add another one with more features down the road. However, my personal recommendation is to make sure it has a removable liner. Why? Because this will make clean up a whole lot easier.
Do You Need More Than One?
Having more than one slow cooker is definitely not out of the question if you enjoy this way of cooking. You can fix pulled pork in one, and still have room for Mac and cheese or a squash casserole to cook away in the second one as a side dish.
And there are even really small models that come in handy for hot dips, appetizers and desserts. Sometimes they come as a bonus gift with the bigger crock pot.
Multiple slow cookers really come in handy around the holidays when you’re fixing a variety of different casseroles and the likes. If you can prepare a few of them in your crock pots, you don’t have to worry about using up precious oven time.
And it’s one more thing you can set and forget. Which gives your more time to spend making precious family memories, instead of slaving in the kitchen.
Now You Know How To Choose The Right Crock Pot
Head on over to Amazon or take a walk through the small appliance section of your local super store and see what your options and price ranges are. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon and see what folks like and what they don’t like.
Save Money And Give Too
And don’t forget that you can purchase an Amazon gift card from (affiliate) Fundscrip. In this way, you are helping to support Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs.
It takes a few steps, but it is worth it to make money back from your purchase, and to support Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs too.
Then you can make an informed decision and purchase your first crock pot.
When you get it to the house is when the real fun starts… cooking with it. Enjoy!