Student food is stereotyped as pot noodles and beans on toast. For many freshers it is the first time they will be cooking for themselves. Whilst most students will rely on the microwave and the oven, there may be another kitchen essential that is worth investing in.
A slow cooker is an electricity-powered pot that cooks food slowly at a low temperature. Food can take one to twelve hours to cook, and the user is given the option between low and high settings. Low tends to take longer to reach the cooking point, so food will be cooked longer.
A few weeks before I left for university, a friend of mine gifted me a slow cooker. I was over the moon with it and so excited to try a multitude of different recipes. At first, I used it to make simple things like soup and mince. The soup was always delicious and the meat tender, even if I was throwing in cheap ingredients.
However, the world of slow cooking opened to me fully one evening when I stumbled across Facebook groups that boasted recipes I hadn’t even fathomed. Who knew you could cook a jacket potato in your crockpot? The next day I drizzled a potato in oil, sprinkled on some salt and wrapped it in tin foil. Five hours later it was done. It was the most delicious baked potato I have had.
The slow cooker has more benefits than delicious food, though that is the main one. Student kitchens tend to be shared by a lot of people, so using a slow cooker cuts down on oven waiting time.
It is an absolute timesaver. You can throw your ingredients in and leave it while you attend lectures. Most recipes do not require you to precook anything, however it is better to brown off mince in order to get rid of the fat and sear in the flavour. Additionally, your food is all cooked in one pot which reduces washing up.
Slow cookers can be small, which gives the perfect portion for just you. They can be cheap and are easy to use once you practice a few recipes. You can even make desserts and sweets in them.
Of course if you want a quick meal, the slow cooker is unsuitable as it does need to be planned in advance. Not only does it need to be set up hours prior, but the required ingredients will also need to be ready. As long as you plan your meals for the week – which is a great way to cut down on food wastage and save money – the slow cooker is ideal for a student. It just takes time and practice to become confident using it. The key things to remember are:
- Don’t take off the lid. Slow cookers take time to heat up so removing the lid will cause the temperature to fall. This means the food will not cook evenly or it may take longer.
- Avoid beans as they can be toxic if not cooked through.
- Do not overcook. Although it cannot burn, the food may become mushy and flavourless.
- Make sure to add liquid so that your food will cook through and taste better, but don’t add too much or your food will be far too watery.
The rest is trial and error, but slow cookers are definitely a friend of students.
Feature image credit: Kitchn
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