Eating on a budget - Slow Cooking
If I had to recommend just one kitchen essential from my time at University then it would have to be my slow cooker.
Now, normally I don’t have much time for useless kitchen gadgets that end up gathering dust but this is completely different – it was actually used, a lot!
It was bought for me as a gift – my parents probably thought I would starve to death away from home so they decided to give me a helping hand! I’d never even heard of a slow cooker before then but I soon learnt how invaluable it would become as a student! In fact, it was a bit of a revolution for my kitchen skills!
As it’s coming up to Christmas, why not add one to your wish list – although they can be picked up really cheaply from retailers such as Argos or Amazon if you wanted to treat yourself.
So why I am raving about slow cookers so much? Here’s just a few reasons I think they're amazing!
- Time-saving – if you don’t have time to cook a proper meal when you get back from your classes then don't worry. You can pop all the ingredients in the slow cooker first thing in the morning and you’ll come back to a perfectly cooked hot meal.
- Cost – the cooker itself is an initial expense but at around £10 for a basic model it won’t break the bank. It also allows you to cook with low-cost ingredients, such as cheap cuts of meat. Slow cooking is perfect for this as it helps to break down tough fats, making it much more tender. And don’t be worried about high electricity bills because it’s on all day. It’s actually more economical to cook at a very low heat for 8 hours than it is to have your oven at a high temperature for a short period of time.
- Easy to use – making a meal in a slow cooker requires absolutely no technical knowledge – just whack all the ingredients in at the same time, switch on and leave it! Ideal for soups, casseroles, stews and curries. The fact that it’s all cooked in one pot, means less washing up to do too!
- Health – even if you don’t like veg that much, it’s easy to hide it in a slow cooked meal so not a problem to get your 5 portions a day in.
- Smell – there’s nothing better than coming home to a house that’s smells of delicious, cooking food. Although be careful, I once added too much garlic to a recipe and the house smelt of it for days – not so great for your housemates!
Want a recipe to get you started? Here is the easiest recipe EVER and what’s more you only need three ingredients to serve four people…
BBQ Pulled Pork
1kg boneless pork shoulder joint (£2.50
125ml bottle of coke (£1)
1 jar of BBQ sauce (£1)
Total cost: £1.13p per serving1
Place your joint of meat into the slow cooker and pour the jar of sauce over the meat. Pour over enough coke to just cover the meat. Switch on your slow cooker and cook for at least 6-8 hours on medium/high heat, or 8-10 hours on the lower setting.
Don’t worry if you are out for a little longer than expected – the longer it is cooked for, the better it will be! Cooking for longer will also help to thicken up the sauce – if it is too thick you can add a little coke to loosen it up a little.
Once you have checked that the meat and the sauce is cooked to your liking, then grab two forks and pull the meat apart, it should shred really easily. Stir it to coat it in the sauce and serve!
It works really well served on buns, with nachos or a jacket potato. Or just grab a big spoon and eat it on its own.
Simple. Slow food beats fast food anyday!
1 Cost based on the lowest priced items at Asda.com. Prices at other supermarkets may vary.