Slow Cookers

Take all day to make your favorite meal

Your life is hectic. Maybe you hit the snooze too many times every morning, grab a coffee on the way to work only to be stuck in traffic, then you get to work and find you've missed two meetings and you're facing an impossible 4 p.m.deadline. After a day like that, who has the energy to come home and cook a well balanced meal?

Well, with just a little advanced planning and a crock pot or slow cooker, that day could have a happy ending after all, in the form of a fine supper of stew or chili.

Crock pots and slow cookers are excellent small appliances that give busy cooks the convenience of making hearty stews, soups, chili and meat dishes without having to spend hours in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove. And not only are they versatile, crock pots come in many different styles that will match anyone's kitchen design.

With various cooking settings and elaborate time and temperature controls, crock pots can help you fit cooking a good meal into your schedule, rather than fitting your schedule around cooking a meal. Safety features such as automatic shut off or heat reduction control systems allow you to leave your crock pot unattended for long periods of time, such as when you're at work or out shopping. Some crock pots even allow for recipe times and temperatures to be saved in memory, so you can easily prompt your pot to make your favorite meal the same way every time.

Most crock pots have removable stoneware crocks that make cleaning, serving meals and storing leftovers very convenient. Stoneware crocks often have non-stick coatings for easy soap and water clean up and many can be popped directly into the dishwasher. If you do a lot of cooking and want to make two meals at once to save time, you can purchase crocks that have space for two bowls.

Crock pots and slow cooker lids are usually made of glass or metal. Glass covers have the benefit of letting you see how your meal is doing without releasing any heat. Both materials are dishwasher safe and clean up in a snap. Some variations of crock pots have deep, oven-safe pots that can double as casserole dishes. A basic crock pot or slow cooker costs around $30, but expect to pay more if you need any of these extra features.

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