Slow cookers are the height of convenience. Nothing compares to simply putting food in the cooker first thing in the morning and then returning home to a fully cooked meal. Slow cookers are great for parents with busy schedules, and you can use them to prepare some healthy meals for your children.
Ratatouille is a broad term that’s applied to several kinds of vegetable stew. Common ingredients include aubergines, courgettes, and peppers, flavored with spices including basil and thyme. This dish tastes extra good when prepared in a slow cooker because the flavors have more time to meld together, forming a truly dense profile. Better still, ratatouille can be prepared in bulk and frozen, so it’s the ultimate convenience meal. It’s a simple way to supply kids with their five a day, and the ease of slow cooker preparation means that it’s essentially hassle-free. Be sure to add additional flavorings like vegetable bullion and be careful about thickener. Slow cooker meals have a tendency to be quite thin (vegetables release moisture as they cook), so it’s worth adding a thickener like cornflour or SimplyThick. This will give the finished product a luxurious, deep texture.
- Shepherd’s pie
Shepherd’s pie sometimes has the reputation of being quite unhealthy, but that’s easily remedied. Frying the mince before you add it to the slow cooker only takes a matter of minutes but it removes most of the fat. Blitz the mince on a high heat and then mop it dry with a kitchen cloth, leaving the fat in the frying pan. From there, load the slow cooker up with wholesome vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions and let it cook for the rest of day. Slow cookers can simmer on a low setting for as long as 10 hours, more than covering the working day. Serve the meal with mashed potatoes for a dish that kids will love.
- Vegetable tagine
Tagine is a North African dish prepared in specialist tagine pots left to cook slowly for hours at a time. Fortunately, the conditions of a slow cooker perfectly replicate those of a ceramic tagine dish, making it easy to prepare this delicacy at home. Spices are the foundation of the dish. Cumin, turmeric, and paprika give tagines their unique flavor and color. Onions are usually added too, but from there you can choose whatever vegetables you like. There are ample tagine recipes available, but be sure to serve with bread or couscous to mop up the flavorsome sauce that collects at the bottom of the cooker.
- Slow cooker roast chicken
It’s a little-known fact that slow cookers are excellent for roasting whole chickens. This is a real-time saver and much easier than cooking in the oven. Better still, you can even throw some healthy vegetables like carrots and parsnips into the cooker. The result is a fully cooked roast dinner when you return home, and one that’s rich in flavor due to the slow cooking method. Use thyme and sage as aromatics and harvest the chicken juices for gravy.