One way to save time and money when preparing meals at home is to use a slow cooker. When using a slow cooker, the ingredients can be put in the night before and stored in the refrigerator or added in the morning and allowed to cook while you are at work or running errands. Since the slow cooker is doing the work, you can come home to a meal that is already prepared. When the meal is prepared like this, it eliminates the temptation of stopping for takeout or going out for dinner.
A variety of meals can be made in the slow cooker but some of the easiest are soups and stews. If your soups and stews contain a variety of meat and vegetables you may need less meat per person than if meat were the main ingredient of the meal, which saves your money. Also, since it will be cooking for a long period of time, you can use a lower grade of meat, because it will become more tender the longer it cooks.
Another way to save money is to buy ingredients in bulk and make up packages of ingredients for various slow cooker meals to keep in the freezer until needed. The bags are frozen and then thawed over night before put in the slow cooker. Many times you can get better prices on ingredients when purchasing in a larger quantity, such as meats.
Using a slow cooker for meals in the winter months is an easy way to make comfort food and in the summer months it is a way to cook meals without heating up the kitchen and house considerably. Some people put the slow cooker on the deck or in the garage in the summer months in warmer climates so it does not add any additional heat to their homes.
If you are making a soup that you want to add pasta or rice to, it would be advisable to wait and add the pasta or rice before you serve the meal. It does not take as long for these ingredients to cook, so you don’t want them cooking as long as the rest of the meal.
A meal can be easily put together once you get home by adding bread or buns and a salad to the soup or stew you have had cooking in the slow cooker.
There are various cookbooks and websites with tips and recipes for cooking with a slow cooker. Using a slow cooker is one way to save time and money when preparing meals.