Dust off your slow cooker and let’s get this party started! Crocktoberfest is here, and what better time to put your slow cooker to work for you, saving you time and money, than in October!
I know it sounds wild to bust out the Crock-pot and use it for a whole month, but last year I did it and it was super fun! I created some truly winning, cheap crock pot meals that we now make all the time.
You know I love a good theme. I am also a nerd. So…
October is the perfect time to have some fun! How about dusting off your slow cooker and giving it a run for its money?
This month in the Good Cheap Eats Club we’re focusing on the slow cooker to help us save time and money, and I thought you might want to join in.
Let’s celebrate Crocktoberfest!
We did this last year and it was a blast. Yep, I cooked a full month of slow cooker recipes. I learned what not to do (chex mix) and what to do all the time – Hello Slow Cooker Chocolate Cheesecake!
I aim to make this a yearly thing because the challenge of Crocktoberfest is so much fun.
While Oktoberfest is a Bavarian fall festival held in October and featuring much beer and frolicking, Crocktoberfest is a celebration of the slow cooker.
And it makes so much sense for us to hold it in October. The weather has cooled in the northern hemisphere, making for a perfect time to cook up what the slow cooker does best: stews, soups, sauces, and braises.
Not only is the slow cooker an amazing invention for busy cooks, but using it will also save you money.
Ways to Save Money
Let me count the ways!
- The slow cooker is a whiz at braising cheap cuts of meat. Inexpensive cuts of meat tend to be a little tough and require longer cooking times. The slow cooker is perfect at that, allowing you to enjoy some affordable proteins that taste delicious.
- Who wants to get take-out when dinner’s all ready? If you’re out and about during the day or just hunkered down in your home office, you’re far less likely to get take-out when a meal is already prepared. The slow cooker allows you to do that advance prep pretty easily without a lot of fuss.
- Big batches are easy-peasy in a slow cooker, so fill your freezer. It’s so simple to make a big batch of stew, soup, chili, pasta sauce, beans, etc… in the slow cooker which makes it simple to cook ahead and freeze extra for later. Having a stash in the freezer will save you time, money, and effort over the long haul.
The Challenge for the Month
This month on Good Cheap Eats, I’m encouraging you to use your slow cooker more! I made sure our slow cooker recipe archive was tidy and organized so it will be easy for you to find what you’re looking for.
In our free resource library, I also have a meal planning idea sheet. It’s clickable, taking you straight to the recipe to make it easy. Library access is FREE to subscribers of the Good Cheap Eats Gazette. Check your inbox and spam before signing up again. 🙂
There are so many things you can cook in the slow cooker. Last year, I checked out a number of cookbooks from the library and was really pleased with The Complete Slow Cooker by America’s Test Kitchen.
This year, I’m looking forward to checking out The Stay-at-Home Chef Slow Cooker Cookbook.
Things You Can Slow Cook
It’s really fascinating what you can make in the slow cooker! This is just a partial list:
- chicken wings
- egg bake
- taco and sandwich fillings
- rice pilaf
- potatoes (baked as well as buttered)
- mashed potatoes
- party mix
- creme brûlée
- pudding cakes
I’m eager to try some new options.
Slow Cooker Reviews
I don’t honestly know from experience if the type of slow cooker matters.
I was really interested in AT’s reviews of slow cookers. None of the six I own made their list as recommended. Neither were they on a list put out by Good Housekeeping. Or Food & Wine.
Gulp. I confess, I’ve been very brand loyal to the official Crock-pot name over the years. Perhaps that wasn’t wise?
Well, we’ll see how this month goes. I own three large ovals (will likely donate one for lack of space), one beaten up round, one mini, and one casserole style. Over the course of the month, I will use all six and see what I truly love and what could maybe give up some valuable kitchen real estate.
- Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce
- Crock Pot Hot Chocolate
- Slow Cooker Potatoes
- Turkey and Rice Soup
- Spicy Pork Chili with Pumpkin (91 cents/serving)
- Shredded Beef Tacos
- Hot Turkey Pesto Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Chocolate Cheesecake
- Mushroom Beef Stew with Kalamata Olives
- How to Make Stock From Turkey
- Shredded Beef Recipe (Crock Pot or Instant Pot)
- Cheap Crock Pot Meals You’ll Actually Love
How to Participate
I hope you will! There are lots of ways to participate:
- Try one (or more!) of our Slow Cooker recipes blog and leave a starred review. Browse through our Slow Cooker Recipes and see what suits. Some recipes are written for both the Instant Pot and the Slow Cooker.
- Subscribe to the FREE Good Cheap Eats Gazette. It comes out each Sunday afternoon with a roundup of recent posts and behind-the-scenes details. If you’re subscribed, you’ll receive an email with the free idea sheet this weekend. Check your inbox and spam before signing up again. Trust me, it’s better that way. Otherwise, sign up here.
- Follow along on Instagram. You can find me @goodcheapeatsblog where I’ll be sharing what’s cooking in the Good Cheap Eats Kitchen.
Whether you cook in your slow cooker once, twice, or thirty-one times, I hope you’ll let this money- and time-saving device help you more in the kitchen.
(This post was originally published on September 30, 2020. It has been updated for content and clarity.)
I just gave my granddaughter my crockpot. We don’t use it. Don’t like the boiled/steamed texture of meat in it especially chicken (we like crispy skin). We don’t fix big pots of stews etc and the little crock pot just doesn’t seem to do it for us. I have used my crock pot for keeping homemade noodles or mashed potatoes warm at family get togethers. Our freezers are full and so it the pantry
The timing for this is impeccable – I have to return to work after (Canadian) Thanksgiving in mid October. It’ll be a big adjustment after cooking at home for my family of six for seven months (and a rude awakening for them!). Did your white chicken chili tonight but overcooked the crap out of the white beans in the IP first – so it became chicken chick pea chili ;-). After the crisis-caused adjustments, my family pronounced it very tasty – *I* pronounced it EASY! I’m looking forward to this!
I confess, as Helen, that I tend to use my instant pot more than the crockpot. If I have a crockpot recipe I want to make, I look up how to make it in the instant pot. But that said, I do like the idea of throwing stuff in the crockpot in the morning and it’s done at night. So I will be looking for those type recipes, as well as cooking staples such as beans and rice. I don’t care for crockpot recipes that are for 2 hours, I figure I can just make those type of recipes up on the stove. Thanks for all your hard work!
Thanks for sharing, Kathy!
Can’t wait to start! Easy cooking is what I need.
Glad you’re joining us, Krys!
I am absolutely in! I need to make up a crockpot plan. I think today will be apples – either applesauce or apple crisp.
Overnight oats! I tried this last night – steel cut oats in the mini crockpot. It needs a little adjusting.
I used to make those all the time. It’s been awhile. Can’t wait to hear about your adjustments.
I’m looking forward to following this. At the beginning of September I altered my themed meal plan to include Crockpot Monday because soccer practices keep us out over the typical dinner time. This way we have dinner ready the moment we walk in. However, I do not have a large repertoire of favorites for the Crockpot, so I’m happy to see what you’re making and maybe to try a few new things!
Bonus info: I bake my granola in the Crockpot. The method is similar to making party mix in it. It’s not a chunky granola, though.
I’ve been thinking of adding granola to my list. Can you share your method?
I can’t tell you the exact baking time, and I imagine it would vary based on batch size and cooker size. I have a 6 qt. oval. I like to make a batch of granola that’s about 8 cups oats. I cook on high with the lid on sideways so heat stays in and moisture gets out. I stir about every 30 minutes. I would say it takes a couple hours, but I just judge it at stirring time to know if it’s done.
Totally looking forward to this challenge!!
Glad you’re going to jump in, Shayla!
I actually no longer own one as I mostly use the Instant Pot now for soups and stews and the like. My family aren’t big “meat and potato” eaters so the roasts like my mom would make (and I love and miss!) aren’t something I need to own a cooker for. The Instant Pot definitely doesn’t do slow cooking well so I have honestly been debating getting a new slow cooker lol it’s tempting to add one to my Walmart grocery pickup. I’ll definitely be following along this month!
I also only own an IP and a small CP now. I recently read in a group that we need to change the button from “less” to “more” so that it reaches the correct temperature. I’m going to try this.
Thanks for sharing, Cheri! Multitaskers are so nice when they can really multitask!
Cheri, the main difference is that the IP only heats from the bottom whereas the crockpot heats from the sides as well. So it can slow cook smaller amounts, but I feel like a full pot of stew would sit in the “danger zone” too long unless you were stirring it often. The less and more of the IP settings definitely don’t correlate to low and high on a CP
That’s intestinal cause the Slow Cooker heating coils are on the bottom but quests the heat diffuses through the ceramic insert. My IP is a poor slow cooker. I researched IP and discovered I would have to spend $200 + to get an IP that was also preformed well as a SC.
Ha! I am still coming up to speed on the IP, but we’re going to have an IP month in the new year. 😉
Let me know if you have questions 😉