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The world has recently rediscovered slow cookers, and I've discovered the joys of easy meals for the first time. Why should you get a slow cooker too?

Are you a busy professional trapped in a fast-food routine because you're simply too tired (and, perhaps, too hungry) to prepare home-cooked meals after work? Do you have a young family and think you have better things to do with your time than to spend hours in the kitchen? 

Anyone who has ever had a great home-made family meal knows that few things as are satisfying and healthy as real meals made from scratch, yet it's also painfully clear that not everyone has the time to make them. So what can you do? Slow cookers first appeared in the 1970s, as increasing numbers of women found work outside of the home and no longer had time to hang out in the kitchen. They're now re-emerging and loved among people who want decent and nutritious meals without putting in the effort. Would you benefit from a slow cooker, and what exactly can you do with it?

What Is A Slow Cooker?

A slow cooker is a counter-top electric kitchen appliance that's sometimes known as a Crock-Pot, though the latter is actually a trademark. Slow cookers are usually round or oval in shape, and many look an awful lot like a regular saucepan. Slow cookers have a metal outer shell and heating component, and an inner dish that is usually made of ceramic or porcelain. As the name suggests, a slow cooker cooks foods slowly, at relatively low temperatures that preserve both flavors and vitamins. 

Slow cookers come with three heat settings: high, low and keep warm. The actual temperatures involved vary a little from machine to machine, but the high setting is designed to prepare a meal in about four hours, while the low setting takes a bit longer: roughly eight hours. That sounds like a long time, doesn't it? What this means is that you can prepare your ingredients before heading off to work and come home to a fully prepared hot meal. You can also start your meal off in the evening and have, for instance, oatmeal with fruits waiting for you in the morning. The keep warm setting is designed to keep your already finished meals warm. 

Some slow cookers are mechanical, while many now have digital screens that allow you to decide for how long you want to cook your meal. 

I got my slow cooker only about a month ago. I'm a busy, single and middle-aged professional woman. I am out of the house rather a lot. As a vegetarian who loves healthy meals, the easy and not so healthy dinner habit I had fallen into was frustrating. I opted for quick meals, and both flavor and nutrition took a back seat. I knew something had to change. Then, one day, a friend with a large family invited me over for dinner. The flavors floating around her house were amazing, so I had to ask her what was cooking. The answer came in the form of a charming saucepan-like device sitting elegantly on her kitchen counter: a slow cooker. I ordered one on the internet when I came home — way past midnight — that very night. I haven't regretted it one moment, and I think you'll feel the same. 

Still not convinced? Check out the reasons to get a slow cooker on the next page.

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