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A slow cooker is a one pot cooker that specialises in slow cooking food. They are made from heat proof material and the casing the dish sits in is metal and has an internal heating element.

The beauty of a slow cooker is that it is a set and forget cooking mode that does not need attention or stirring. You can put a slow cooker on in the morning, go to work and come home to a perfectly safe vessel that has prepared you food whilst you’ve been out.

This is also an efficient way of cooking as you can use lesser grade cuts of meat as it is cooked very slowly so it will not be chewy or dry. There is also only one pot to clean up after the meal is served.

Slow cookers are not only for Winter time. It may get a bit more use in Winter but it can also be used for bulk cooking all year round like pasta sauce, chilli con carne, soups, roasts, desserts and dips.

If you can take or leave cooking, a slow cooker can make life a lot easier. With a little organization, you could have a few veges chopped up the night before and some meat diced. Simply toss them into the slow cooker before you leave in the morning with some crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs and you will be walking in that even to a meal fit for a king. Just a tip – when organising the weeks’ menu, make sure you have enough food to cover 3 meals in the slow cooker. Most homes are busy these days so if you know you will have 3 meals cooked and ready to come home to, it won’t matter what time the tribe arrives. There will be something hot for them to gobble down quickly.

In a world with rising food costs, a slow cooker is just about your cheapest form of feeding the family. You can make the most of those veges that have seen better days and those cuts of meat in the freezer that you forgot you bought. Slow cooker recipes are everywhere and cater for the vegetarians as well.

I have never heard anyone says they ruined a meal in a slow cooker.

Things to consider when you’re choosing your slow cooker

There are only a couple of sizes so if you have a small family, 2 adults, 2 kids, a 4 litre will do. However, if you want to do bulk cooking or have more people in the home, I would suggest a 5 litre or above. When it comes to slow cookers, bigger is better. Grab the biggest one your cupboard will house.

Slow cooking can be a really easy way to feed guests. I will save you slaving in the kitchen all day. Grab some lamb shanks and let them cook all day, yum!

Budget slow cookers will generally have only 2 settings, low and high. Better models will have a medium and warming functions as well. If you can stretch the budget go for a model that has some more functions as not all recipes will call for the same setting so you need to give yourself some options.

Slow cookers come in a circle or oval shape. Consider which one will fit in your cupboard more easily.

Half the fun of having a slow cooker is watching the food bubble away. Try to purchase a cooker with a glass lid.

You may like to present the food on the table in the slow cooker dish. It is an easy way for people to serve themselves and again, saves on cleaning up.

Try to buy something with cool touch handles so it makes removal from the steel casing is safe.

Check to see if it is dishwasher safe.