The crockpot (or slow cooker) had a bad rap for a while. But once people started discovering how to use it the right way, everything changed.
But, you might ask, how can just using a kitchen appliance save you thousands a year? Answer—By making you think differently about your meals and plan differently too.
I think more people would use their crockpot if they knew how to make it work for them. No one likes coming home to a dinner that’s just… eh. But knowing what does work and what doesn’t work with slow cookers makes all the difference when it comes to delicious food. I used my crockpot exclusively for 100 days straight and learned a ton! What I learned could help you save thousands of dollars per year by using your crockpot consistently.
Here’s how using your crockpot can save you thousands every year…
Read more: 27 health food items you have to try at Aldi
Planning ahead and using the crockpot reduces ‘convenience spending’
Have you ever noticed how much more expensive convenience stores are? That comes down to one reason—people are willing to pay for convenience. We all do it. We all know that the gas station snacks have a huge mark up, but since we don’t want to make another stop, we’ll pay the ‘convenience price.’
How does this fit into crockpot cooking? If you plan ahead for a meal to be cooked in a crockpot, you can get better deals on the groceries you need for the meal. Not only that, you can buy and cook larger quantities, giving you value pricing. And then you’ll have leftovers to bring to work the next couple of days.
So, not only are you cooking a larger amount of food for cheaper, you removed the need to buy lunches by taking leftovers for lunch!
Convenience food is also much more expensive and far less healthy. Think about the components of a —pizza flour, crushed tomatoes and cheese. Pizza places make a killing on being a convenient meal for your family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good New York-style pie, but you pay for the convenience of not cooking your own dinner.
Cheaper cuts of meat work really well
You cook the meat for a really long time with a slow cooker. This means cheaper cuts of meat that are typically harder to work with will have time to tenderize and get delicious. You don’t have to buy the top-shelf cuts of beef, pork or chicken to get the flavor and tenderness you want when you use a slow cooker.
I actually prefer chicken thighs to chicken breasts in the crockpot and they are always cheaper. Try a cheaper cut of beef. Cube steak is much cheaper than a porterhouse. You can marinate your meat as you slow cook to make it taste great and save you money.
You won’t be disappointed in the flavor and you’ll save big!
Buy big, save big!
Most stores will offer bigger packages of popular meat at a cheaper price per pound than smaller packages. If you have the resources to store the extra, you can save around $1-$2 per lb. just buy purchasing meat in larger packages!
If buying a huge package of meat just to get a better value turns you off because you’ll waste it or not use all the food, check out my next two tips.
If you really want to save thousands per year by using your crockpot, meal planning is the best way to do so.
Meal planning is simpler and takes less time than you might think. For me, meal planning is a mantra. It gives us time back in our day, money back in our pockets and removes stress from the dinner equation. Here’s a quick step-by-step process to begin meal planning:
- Get your local grocery store ads
- See what’s on sale. Pay attention to the ‘loss leaders’ on the front page.
- See what sides or pantry ingredients are on sale or make a note of what you already have.
- Look around online for crockpot recipes with your ingredients. You can find tons with a simple Google search.
- Make your meal plan for the week.
Meal planning this way allows you to buy all of your food at the best possible value, by shopping sales and buying value-sized quantities. Not only that, if you plan this way, you know you’ll use all the food you bought. You’ll save big money and minimize waste.
Freezer cooking (Meal planning 2.0)
Something that takes meal planning to the next level is ‘freezer cooking.’ Freezer cooking is where you prep a bunch of meals ahead of time, freeze them and then put one in the crock pot in the morning. Your meal is done by the time everyone gets home from their busy day. It is amazing.
My husband and I started freezer cooking simply to remove the “What’s for dinner?” stress that looms over many of us all day. It has made our very busy days a lot easier. If you can prep 10-20 meals in one afternoon and put them in the freezer, it basically combines everything into one (planning ahead, using cheaper meats, value-size quantities, making meal plans)!
If you’ve been asking yourself how you can save the most amount of money using your crockpot, freezer cooking is the answer.
The best method is to prepare 20 meals at once and put them in the freezer. Don’t eat those meals for 20 consecutive nights in a row though! We typically have days during the week that are busier than others. On those days we put a freezer meal in the crockpot. On days that aren’t as busy, we’ll have enough time to throw something together for dinner or eat those leftovers. Freezer meals save us tons of money, time and stress. Not only that, they are way healthier than eating out.
Though using your crockpot can easily save you thousands of dollars a year, it’s more than just the money. I’m talking about less stress, more time to do other things, a more organized schedule and eating healthier. The crockpot is magical! See what it can do for your family.
Read more: How to create a successful meal plan