A visit to nearly any recipe site will likely yield numerous recipes for slow cooked meals, desserts, and even snacks. Slow cooking may seem like a relatively recent phenomenon, but it actually has its roots in Jewish culture. Because no cooking could be done on the Sabbath, food was put into a hot oven the day before. The oven was shut off, but the residual heat slowly cooked the food over time. Eventually, an inventor who grew up eating his mother’s bean stew, which was cooked in this manner, invented what is now known as the Crock Pot. Since the late 1930s, people have been using this device to cook a wide variety of different meals, and it’s estimated that as many as 83% of households have at least one.
Unfortunately, many people may not be taking advantage of this cooking technique as often as they could be. There are a lot of benefits to cooking your food in a slow cooker, many of which go far beyond the original use it was intended for.
Meals for Busy Families
In the 1970s when Rival Manufacturing purchased the patent for the Crock Pot, they quickly landed on what is probably the best benefit that the device has to offer; an easy way to cook meals for busy families. With more women and families with both spouses working than ever before, dinnertime can be a rush, particularly for families with children. By the time everyone arrives home, homework is seen to, chores are done, and sports practices have been attended, there isn’t a lot of time left in the day to eat dinner, let alone to make a hot, nourishing meal.
That’s what makes a slow cooker such a beneficial tool for busy families. At the start of the day – or even the night before if the inner chamber is refrigerated – it’s easy to put everything needed for that night’s meal into the slow cooker and turn it on. On a low setting, the appliance will slowly cook food for between 8 and 10 hours, and then keep it warm for several hours after that if desired. So a hot meal can be waiting when the family arrives home at the end of the day, rather than needing to be prepared. This frees up valuable time for family members who usually do the cooking or prep work in the evening, which can lead to less stress, as well as to more quality time spent together as a family.