Why you need a slow cooker
It’s simple. It cooks slowly — really slowly. You can just throw the ingredients in, set the timer and walk away. A slow cooker requires very little energy. On average it costs 21 cents to run a slow cooker for 10 hours. If you cook a pork roast in the oven 2 hours it costs $2.51 for an electric oven and $1.49 for a gas oven. A slow cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen the way a stovetop or oven can. This time of year when temperatures are soaring right along with the cost of air conditioning, that’s a big deal.
Slow cookers are pretty basic. Some have programmable timers, but they generally have “On” and “Off” buttons and a dial to tell the thing how many hours to cook.
What you’ll want to pay most attention to when selecting a slow cooker is the size. For peak performance it should only be about threequarters of the way full while cooking.
Here are the three best inexpensive slow cookers on the market today, plus a fourth that is not that inexpensive, but has all the bells and whistles.
Proctor Silex 33015YA 1-1/2-Quart Round Slow Cooker. This small slow cooker, suitable for two or three people, has regular temperature settings — high, low and warm. The removable crock and glass lid go in the dishwasher. It costs about $18.
Crock-Pot SCV401TR 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker. This beautiful red slow cooker is your basic workhorse. It has high, low and warm settings, and the removable stoneware and lid are both dishwasher-safe. It’s perfect for four or more. It handles a 4-pound roast well. This one costs about $25.