The Slow Cooker; revolutionising dinner for busy parents

I bought a slow cooker probably about a year ago now in anticipation of going back to work. For some reason it sat gathering dust until recently but it’s use has become something of a revelation to us. We have used it a good few times over the past couple of weeks and are totally sold on the idea of its use. To contextualise things, we always make dinner the night before so that it simply needs to be heated and the accompanying starch (rice, noodles, spaghetti, pasta etc) needs to be cooked from scratch. I need to have dinner on the table in about a half hour after getting in the door otherwise the girls would literally be eating their spuds in the bath.

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So far we’ve done a cooked chicken in it which is so moist oh my god yum. You literally just put the whole chicken in and turn it on. A nice trick is to roll a couple of pieces of tin foil up into balls and place them under the chicken so that the bottom doesn’t get soggy. The skin of the chicken won’t be crispy but that doesn’t bother me, water does build up inside the skin so pierce it a little if you plan on going away from it for the day. For about €5 though you get a the most fabulous chicken which will do for at least two dinners and a couple of lunches.

roast chicken

Another recent firm favourite is a spicy lamb stew which we had for dinner last night. Diced lamb pieces and heaps of vegetables into liquid with stock and herbs and spices, prep it the night before, combine it in the morning and set it on low to cook. We turn ours on at 8am and we eat around 6 and at that stage everything is cooked obviously and the lamb just falls to pieces, yum, divine. I’m not even the biggest fan of lamb but it’s important to make sure the girls get used to as many varieties of meats as possible.

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This is probably going to sound bizarre but I’ve cooked large piece of ham in it previously using Cider as the liquid to cook it in, or you can use coke like the picture – the ham is so moist and it literally just falls apart. You can see a theme here can’t you!? Meat cooked in the slow cooker is so tender.

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I got our slow cooker in Lidl, I can’t remember which, you can get them in Argos too. Ours is a medium sized one, I’ve thrown out the box so I think it’s in and around the 4.5L range. Cost us less than €20 so it’s possibly one of the best value cooking items we’ve bought. I can’t even describe the sheer pleasure to be got from walking in the door after a day of work to the smell of a cooked dinner. There are lots more than can be made using it like soup and even deserts so watch this space and I’ll keep you all posted if you’re interested. Also keep an eye in Lidl or Aldi because with the winter approaching they’re sure to be doing them again soon. Pinterest, my favourite place to waste hours online, has HEAPS of recipe suggestions which you can check out here and there are groups on Facebook dedicated solely to slow cookers. It’s a movement not a cooking appliance!

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24 thoughts on “The Slow Cooker; revolutionising dinner for busy parents

    1. David I saw a thing on twitter which was like an insert like a.sieve so you could lift the food out and leave the juices behind then you could reduce these down separately I guess?!

  1. I’m with you – I absolutely love to slow cook! I’m lucky in that I have an AGA in my kitchen which works just like a massively oversized slow cooker. I urge every Mum in the country to join the slow cooker brigade – it’s a lifesaver!!

  2. We should use ours more. It’s so nice to come home to food ready after going out and the smell is lovely. That’s a great tip about the silver foil balls. I like to chuck the bones straight back in with some water and cook again to make stock

  3. If there’s lots of liquid – ok let’s face it when there’s lots of liquid, decant it out and reduce it in a pan for 10 minutes until it becomes as thick as you want, then return and serve. There’s tons of goodness in that liquid – don’t pour it away.

  4. I’m so terrible, i begged my partner to buy me a slow cooker last year with the intention of making fresh, homemade meals and to date it’s just sat in the cupboard gathering dust. These photos look divine though and seriously make me want to get it out the cupboard and start using it. Thanks for the tip of using tin foil balls in the bottom – genius! xxx

  5. Youve made so much with your slow cooker, I’m getting lots of ideas! I didn’t realise you could so so much in it. I usually just do the chicken or lamb etc. Never ever thought of doing beg etc. Thanks for sharing !! Xx

  6. I love using our slow cooker! I made a Thai masaman curry the other day and the chicken just fell apartm. I’ve tried spag Bol before which ended up really watery so I won’t bother doing that again. I’m definitely going to try cooking a roast chicken one day! Oh and I buy a bacon joint from Tesco and make pulled pork – so delicious! Xx

  7. I really need to get one. We have an aga, but it needs quite a lot of work before putting it in the oven, plus it needs to get up to temperature in the top oven before being moved down, and I can’t do all of that before work. So a slow cooker will be the way to go. Just need to decide on one!

  8. I love my slow cooker, I stole it from my parents cupboards (they were throwing it out anyway, retired people have more time to cook from scratch!). It’s made life so much easier knowing that dinner is already on. My favourites so far are meatballs and chicken satay

  9. I love my slow cooker, I always tend to use it more at this time of year too. I’m currently breastfeeding my three week old and I have found my slow cooker brilliant as I can make tea whenever he isn’t feeding (its rare he is off the boob lol) xxx

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