A Slow Cooker Gives You a Lot Of Different Meal Prep Options

Planning and prepping dinner after a long day can seem like a nearly impossible task. It might even seem like ordering take-out is a better option than cooking at home.

With the correct tools and a little pre-planning, dinner can be ready and waiting on the family rather than the family waiting for dinner. Using a slow cooker is a good way to prepare flavorful meals easily.

Slow cookers can be used to make everything from Grandma’s pot roast to vegetarian dishes to soups to desserts. Recipes are available in a multitude of locations including online cookbooks and social media groups. The options are potentially limitless.

Choosing a slow cooker is not as easy as it was in Grandma’s day. Now, several sizes, styles, and options are available to the discerning consumer. Five, six, and seven quart slow cookers are typically the most popular choices. Here are five of the top slow cookers available.

1 - Cuisinart 3-in-1 6-Quart Multi-Cooker

The stainless steel exterior of the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Multi-Cooker is a stylish addition to the kitchen. Slow cooking is only one of the multiple functions of this appliance. It can also be used for browning and steaming. Three preset selections take the guesswork out of programming the cooker. A “keep warm” setting helps keep dinner warm after the cooking time ends. The base of this cooker is wide and shallow and designed for a more even heat distribution while the appliance is in operation.

2. Hamilton Beach Set and Forget Programmable Slow Cooker

Smart technology allows this cooker to be programmed for either specific temperatures or specific cooking times. It includes a thermometer to test the internal temperature of the meat that is being cooked. The cooker features a digital display that indicates the temperature reading as the food cooks. After the food reaches temperature and is cooked, the keep warm feature automatically activates. Clips attach to the lid to keep it closed for transporting the cooker. The dishwasher can clean both the crock and the lid of this appliance. In addition, power outages are no worry because there is a power interrupt protection feature that will keep the cooker working when the power is out for a short amount of time.

3 - Kitchen-Aid 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

The programmable 6-quart slow cooker from Kitchen-Aid features a removable oval crock that is made of ceramic. It has the traditional low and high temperature settings, as well as a medium setting, and a keep warm setting. Using 30 minute time increments, this slow cooker can be programmed for up to 24 hours of cooking time. A digital display indicates how much cooking time is left before the meal is ready. When cooking is complete, the food can be kept warm for up to four hours using the keep warm function.

4 - All-Clad 7-Quart Gourmet Slow Cooker

The All-Clad slow cooker is a multi-functional appliance. It has four cooking modes including browning, steaming, rice cooking, and slow cooking. The cooking insert is made of aluminum and can be used on the stovetop to brown foods. This appliance features LCD controls and is programmable for up to 20 hours of cooking time. Food can be kept warm for up to six hours following the completion of the cooking time. A nonstick coating makes the insert relatively easy to clean, and the lid, steamer basket, and measuring cup for rice can be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning.

5 - Crock-Pot Cook and Carry Portable Slow Cooker

This slow cooker from Crock-Pot has multiple features. In addition to high and low settings, it can be programmed for up to 20 hours of cooking time. A keep warm setting takes over when cooking is finished and will help food remain warm for up to four hours. The crock on this slow cooker is made of ceramic. Its lid features a hinge as well as a locking function. The 12-pound slow cooker includes a handle attached to the lid to increase portability. When it needs to be stored, the rear of the cooker conveniently holds the cord.

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