Lakeland, in their desire to peddle us slow cookers, have made a very strange claim – one-pot meals mean less preparation.
If you’re tempted to buy a slow cooker (aka a crockpot in the colonies) in the hope you’ll get to spend less time cutting and chopping, forget it – that claim is complete garbage.
Given my assortment of ailments, it’s the prep – the standing – that does for me, and prevents me from cooking most of the time, and I can assure you that whether your meal ultimately emerges from a single pot or from several, the amount of prep you have to do is – exactly the same.
You might think “Huh! Not worth making a fuss about,” but you’d be wrong. There are always young disabled people getting to grips with life in a home of their own, who, like me, would love to have to do less prep, and who might rush out and buy a slow cooker – and they can be expensive – on the strength of this ad. And come unstuck.
Oh, and if you are disabled, be aware that the crock – the inner pot of a slow cooker – is usually earthenware and very heavy.
A slow cooker will save you money on fuel, and if you go out to work, it will have a meal waiting for you when you get home, but don’t forget – you have to do all the prep before you go to work. That, for me, wipes out any advantage at the other end of the day. Personally, I cook stews and freeze them – much less hassle.
But getting back to prep. I rate the recipes I post here in Spoons (for Spoonies!), and it’s almost always the prep work that adds a spoon or two. You can reduce the amount of prep quite dramatically if you’re prepared to accept a reduction in the quality of the raw materials and use pre-prepped vegetables, either fresh or frozen. All the supermarkets stock a range of both.
Steer clear of mixed veg or any sort, though, as they are almost invariably combinations which take vastly differing times to cook (of all the veg you’ll cook, carrots take the longest, and broccoli probably the shortest yet, bizarrely, you can buy mixed broccoli florets and carrots. Who the hell thought that was a good idea?
So, buy single prepped veg, fresh or frozen (any fresh that are left over can be frozen as long as you use them fairly quickly), and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and, if you’re sick and disabled, quite possibly a lot of pain, too.
Ah, I hear you mutter, what was that about reduction in quality? Simple. I use specific veg, when I can. Alliums will be Echalion shallots and strong cooking onions, both from Sainsbury’s (their quality is better), and carrots will be Sweet Spear, also from Sainsbury’s. However, buying pre-prepped veg, you get what you’re given, which will be pretty generic. You’ll lose out on flavour – maybe a little, perhaps a lot, I honestly don’t know – but you’ll save on time and effort – and pain.
But trust me, a slow cooker will save you none of those things.. Or don’t trust me, but do think about it logically – the components of a meal are the same no matter whether you cook them in one pot or several – so how can you save on prep work? Simple – you can’t.
Tomorrow – if I’m able – and I won’t know that until tomorrow arrives, I want to cook a dish based on Toulouse sausages (the recipe will be published – I thought I’d already done so, but it appears not). Whether I cook it in a lightweight but heavy-bottomed stainless steel and very Spoonie-friendly casserole (with no long handles sticking out to snag in a moment of inattention), or whether I dig out my very heavy and unfriendly slow cooker from the depths of the cupboard, the amount of work that goes into the dish will be exactly the same.
Do not be fooled by advertising claims.