New York Times bestselling author, slow cooking expert and mommy blogger next door
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A Year of Slow Cooking

Monday, October 27, 2008

Save Money By Using Your CrockPot Slow Cooker

The economy is all whacked out right now and it's scary. I'm not watching the news.

I get an email almost every day asking if I am saving money by using my CrockPot daily.

No. What I am doing is not normal. Most people do not try to do what I'm doing in the crockpot. We are pretty much breaking even on the grocery bills, thanks to BlogHerads. I am grocery shopping more than I ever have before, and am cooking way too much food. I am also buying ingredients that cost more than I would normally spend because I'm trying so many new things.

But you can save money. You don't need to cook a different something every single day. You can cook a big pot of beans, stew, or a casserole and eat it for a few days in a row. You can stock your freezer with homemade broth, stock, and cream of something soup. You can freeze your own cooked beans. You can make yogurt. You can make baby food. You can cook a whole chicken and pick off the meat for future meals. You can even make playdough, crayons, or use the crockpot as a footbath (not really. this one is just for fun.)

When I was first married, I stunk at cooking. I still kind of do, but at least the crockpot allows me a bunch of wiggle-room. I would make Taco Soup every other week, and Adam and I would stretch the food to last for days by making burritos, or adding it on top of rice.

I've put together a round-up of money-saving CrockPot ideas for you. I will continue to add more posts when I come up with them.

homemade chicken broth
homemade beef stock
homemade cream of mushroom soup

Myron's famous whole chicken
lemon and herb chicken
rotisserie-style chicken

How to make canned beans
or refried beans
How to make yogurt
How to make babyfood
Playdough recipe
Recycle crayons in your crockpot
Recycle Candles, too!
Use your crockpot as a rice cooker
Make homemade chicken nuggets in the crockpot
Skip the coffee house and make pumpkin spice lattes at home or peppermint mochas.
Having a party? Stretch your wine by turning it into mulled wine.

Extra food? Make fried rice in the crockpot!
You can make applesauce or apple butter, or homemade granola.

And my favorite way to use my crockpot: the lazy way. Plop in a hunk of frozen meat---it really doesn't matter what kind---and cover it with a bottle or jar of your favorite sauce. Cook on low all day, and serve the shredded meat over rice or pasta. I've used spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, A-1, salad dressing, and bottled marinades.

If you are concerned about the amount of energy consumed by using a crockpot (which is a very valid concern!) here is a pamphlet put out by First Energy Corp., in Ohio. The chart on page 5 says that a crockpot uses $0.02 power per hour.
Here's another energy usage list put out by the Northeast Utilities System, that says the monthly cost of using a slow cooker is $1.17.

For more frugal dinner ideas, visit Erin at $5 Dollar Dinners.

Slow Cooking During a Recession
Meal Planning With the CrockPot
Alphabetical Listing of Recipes
Frequently Asked Crock-Pot Questions
Help! My CrockPot Cooks Too Fast!
An Important Note About Safety
My New Year's Resolution
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Melissa Henning said...

stupid question, but what's the difference between broth and stock?

I use those cans of what i thought was chicken stock, and thought that I was going to be making the same thing tomorrow...but now I see you called it broth. It's the same thing, right?

quinn said...

I have to politely disagree with the notion that you stink at cooking in any way, shape or degree :)

And I appreciate SO MUCH the fact that you are crocking the way you are - experimentally and with great bloggy attentiveness - so that others (like me, for instance) are already saving money - and cutting down on wasted food - by crocking more frequently than ever before.

Crockpot Lady said...

Hi Melissa, it's not a stupid question, and I don't really know the answer. I think you're right, and in this case, that's how I use it. here's a lengthy discussion if you are interested: differences between broth, stock, and boullion.

aw, thanks Quinn!

Jill said...

I just found your blog and I am very excited! I am a fellow Celiac of about 3 years. I am always looking for new recipes. Thanks so much and I will be checking daily!

Michele said...

Okay, excellent ideas! But my comment is about the fact that you actually have $10 and $20 bills for that photo op!!??? I'm more impressed by that mere fact than the blog itself! ROFLMBO! As always, love the blog!

Stephanie said...

What a great round-up!

Emily said...

Thanks for these awesome recipes!! I have been thinking of trying to make my own stock, cream soups, beans, etc. and freeze them to save money, but just haven't had the chance to figure out how. With a one year old and another one on the way, the crockpot is a painless way to make these things without a lot of effort and save some $$!

melanie said...

Okay, you're already cool to be fulfilling a New Year's Resolution that is a blessing to other people. But then to compile all the money saving recipes in one post? You're just freakin' amazing.

Thank you!

PS Putting in one more plug for Baked Oatmeal before you finish this and we all miss you terribly.

Stephanie said...

Just fyi using recipies you have here has helped us save on our grocery bill bc I can usually dig through and find something that uses up a bunch of stuff from the pantry and bc my dh and I tend to really like the stuff from the crockpot and so we save it and eat it for lunch the next few days. I've also made an incredible amount of apple butter.

Michele said...

I am such a terrible cook. I have always found cooking so boring and tedious. Thanks to you, I have gained some interest. Crockpotting is so easy and not scary at all!
Thanks a bunch!

~ A once scardy pants cook

Joel, Melody, Grant, & Kate said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to post all of that. You are such a great resource!


Laurie Lynn said...

Okay Steph, YOU asked for it! You said your favorite way is the lazy way. Here's a lazy one that I'm not sure I've come across on your blog, but I admit, I didn't do a complete and thorough search of every post. Here it is. And. It. Is. So. Super. Easy. Chicken much or little fresh or frozen chicken breasts as you want. Place in crockpot. Dump as much or as little Pace Picante salsa or your own homemade salsa or whatever kind of salsa you like or have on hand over the top of the chicken. Cook on low all day. Shred the chicken with kitchen scissors. Serve with flour tortillas and cheese. DONE! Enjoy. Everyone I've ever served this to has asked for the recipe, which is kind of a joke by now! Thanks for inspiring me to step out of my own comfort zone and try some fabulous meals. Yummo! You're the best!

C. Beth said...

GREAT post! Thanks so much!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your blog is wonderful! I have two crockbpots that I almost never use. I'll be looking through your blog for ideas on how to change that. Thanks!

Kacie said...

This is both timely and EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you!

Susan said...

I tried searching your site for a crockpot stuffing recipe. My sister in law tried it and she said it came out great. I just thought with the holiday around the corner it would be something good to try out. I saw your alphabetical list, you need a search bar on your site too (unless I'm a dork and can't find it)! Today I'm making pulled bbq chicken and acorn squash. I hope to try out TONS of recipes. Thanks for keeping this going every day. I know it's a lot of work. Kudos to you!

SaraK said...

I have to politely disagree with the notion that you stink at cooking in any way, shape or degree :)

I second that!

You have helped me make so many delicious and nutritious meals in my crock pot and I am definitely saving money because crock pot leftovers taste great the next day.

Danielle said...

Can I ask what exactly is BlogHerAds and how has it helped you save money? I clicked on the link to the site and really didn't get what exactly the point of it was. Could you simplify? Thanks!!!

shweetpotato said...

Thanks so much for the cheap dinner ideas and recipes :D Carm

Christine said...

I don't have to stop at McDonald's because I have frozen, leftover soup I made in the crock pot a month ago, and nuking soup is nearly as fast as a trip to McD's---plus it is full of carrots.

I'm finally using those pecans we bought and got sick of and that have been taking up space in the cabinet, because we're making pecan payday candy in the crockpot.

So, yeah, if the candy works out I only have to buy "store candy" for the neighborhood kids, this week, and my own kids can chomp on homemade stuff from ingredients I already had in the house. Yeah.

How's THAT for "saving money with the crock pot?"?

Thanks again for the blog.

patternnuts said...

Woo-hoo! Awesome post!
~thank you~

Anonymous said...

Save money? Those of us with gluten intolerance that was undiscovered for years, pay later in medical bills. I feel so much better with a diet to stick with that removes all the annoying symptoms but it cannot cure the osteoporosis or anemia from not being diagnosed for 20 years. It is worth it if you can prevent first. - Margaret

Sadie said...

I am an avid cook. I love it, and honestly I had a crockpot that I wasn't really using much. Boy oh Boy have you changed that! I now read your blog every single day....Today while at work I cooked 2 lbs of black beans and now a few of them are happily simmering in a pot of your taco soup. I always cooked, but now I can do housework and read books too.

Daisy said...

I don't know if I save money (although we might), but I cook from scratch more with the crockpot, and that's definitely healthier.

Cherie said...

Awesome! Just what I was looking for! You are the Crock Pot Goddess! I have a lot of new family favourites since I first started visiting here. Thanks for all the time and money you have saved me!

THEhooahwife said...

OH my! I think I just died and went to crockpot HEAVEN! Where has your blog been all my life!? I'm in love! (and now very hungry...)

PJ said...

Thanks for putting your money saving ideas together in one post.

I've only been reading your blog for about a month (Love it, BTW!)and had missed the play dough recipe. I tried it this morning and it turned out great. It only took 1/2 hour for me. I think my crockpot runs pretty hot.

Somthing you might want to think of for the future, is to have some kind of frugal theme. I know you're not going to do as much crockpot blogging after this year, but maybe you could do something like "Money Saving Monday".

Just an idea.

Sophie Tsachres said...

Finally I found out your website!! What a gift this is for all of us especially since all my 3 girls and I are celiacs! I have been faithful to my slow cooker for the last 3 years and now that I have all these exellent recipies I am truly happy! Thank you!
Sophie T.

Chef Jen said...

This comment is for Melissa asked the question what is the difference between stock and broth?...well the answer is, stock is made with the bones and meat, and the broth is made strictly with just the meat and no bones. I learned that in culinary school =)

save said...

Any way to save money is good for me. Still, if I'd had the money in the house with me, I'm not sure I could resist the temptation and not spend it..

that's talking MOMsense! said...

I should do more crock pot cooking! Two Christmas's ago I bought my mother-in-law a 5 ingredient or less cookbook for crockpots, and I probably should've gotten one for myself!

Dave Drew said...

My wife does the same thing to save money. Not every day, but she uses the crock pot. Another great way to save is to cut up a bunch of vegetables and bake them. I think that has to be my favorite meal now. We just had baked vegetables again last night. Save money and eat healthy at the same time. The true savings will be later in life when you won't be suffering from as many ailments because you took care of yourself. Thank you for this post.

Dave Drew
Money Saving Author

ben said...

My mom bought a large Crock Pot one thanksgiving. She wanted one big enough that it would fit over her head, and that is how she sized them up in the store lol. We definitely do not have the time to use the Crock Pot every night, but it's great for making big batches on the weekends. We usually make three large dishes and freeze the leftovers. Making larger portions of food makes it more worth it to try new recipes.

The Blaskowski 4 said...

Not sure where to post this...But, I found an outstanding recipe, made it today and LOVE it so I had to share. Easy and inexpensive

Chicken Tostadas:

4 chicken breasts
2 cans enchilada sauce (red or green)Not sure if they make a gluten free one???
1 packet of taco or enchilada seasoning (again, not sure about gluten free)
Put it all in, cook on low!

Serve on tostada or burrito.

Connecticut Blogger said...

I was super interested to read both those articles about the amount of energy slow cooking consumers, but neither of your links work!

Thomas Watson said...

This is a great idea. I am going to get a crockpot today.

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