One thing I tell people who don’t have the time or people like me who just don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, “use the slow cooker.” Those delicious, albeit sometimes tough, cuts of inexpensive meat can become amazing, tender, delicious morsels.

When using the slow cooker, don’t choose recipes that need a lot of preparation. There are tons of recipes out there specifically for the slow cooker, but many can be adapted for it also. If you want a meal that needs prep after the meat is cooked, consider slow cooking the meat throughout the day and setting it up right before the meal. Or even cooking the day before and storing in the fridge for an easy setup.

If it is hard to set everything up in the mornings, put everything in the cooker dish, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, simply remove it from the fridge as soon as you get up and turn it on right before you leave.

Slow cookers don’t need extra oil or fat. As long as there are liquids, the food will not burn to the sides or bottom. The fat on meat will not go away so you want to trim it, too. Be careful with the liquids, though, they don’t reduce, and don’t thicken, meaning you don;t need much and you will probably want to place chicken and other poultry on a stand or aluminum foil balls so it does not sit in the liquid and become squishy.

Try to choose recipes where most of the food can be added in the very beginning. Every time the lid to a slow cooker is removed, it loses some heat and the water rolls off the top. So don’t check on it constantly or worry about stirring often. Usually, the only things that will need to be added at the end would be pasta and rice.

If the recipe is not meant for a slow cooker, here are some times to help set it up.

  • 15 – 30 mins, cook it for 1 – 2 hours on High or 4 – 6 hours on Low
  • 30 mins – 1 hour, cook it for 2 – 3 hours on High or 5 – 7 hours on Low
  • 1 – 2 hours, cook it for 3 – 4 hours on High or 6 – 8 hours on Low
  • 2 – 4 hours, cook it for 4 – 6 hours on High or 8 – 12 hours on Low
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