Life Skills for Teens: Slow Cooking Fundamentals
As I’ve mentioned before, cooking is one of those life skills for teens that we definitely need to teach our kids before they grow up and move out. Have you been teaching your teen how to cook?
Personally, I think the younger you start, the better.
That being said, have you taught your tween about slow cooking yet? If so, yay for you! You’ve shown your child one of the best kitchen appliances for easy cooking. If not, what are you waiting for? Not sure about it yourself? Well, here are some tips to get you started.
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Why use a Slow Cooker
With a little bit of preparation, you can come home from a long day of work to a home-cooked meal that’s already prepared. For many recipes, all you have to do is dump all of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Seriously, it’s often that easy. It’s the perfect tool for making sure you don’t eat out every night.
Since you’ll be cooking over many hours, you can use tougher cuts of meat, which are usually less expensive. The long cooking process will tenderize the meat.
Why heat up your house during the hot days of summer by using your oven and stove? Use your crock-pot to serve a delicious meal without breaking a sweat.
When it’s cold outside and you’re craving something comforting and warm to eat, use the slow cooker to make some soup or a stew. They are perfect foods to cook long and slow.
Does it matter what kind of slow cooker you buy? Well, yes and no. Ideally, you want one that will comfortably fit the recipes you regularly make. Meaning, you don’t want a large-sized one (6 quarts) if you’re always cooking for just yourself and vice versa.
For ease of cleaning, buy one that has a removable stoneware insert if you can.
Also, it’s not necessary, but we’ve recently switched to a programmable Crock-Pot and I love it. It costs a bit more, but I can tell it how many hours to cook at what temperature (high/low) and when it’s finished, it automatically switches over to the warm setting. Simple!
5 Basic Rules for Crock-Pot Cooking
- Resist the temptation to open the lid. I know you want to make sure the magic is happening. Trust me, it is. Every time you open the lid, you’re letting cooler air in and hot air out, meaning you’ll need to add almost 20 minutes of cook time to the recipe.
- Brown ground beef before adding it to the slow cooker. Why? If you don’t, you will most likely end up with big clumps of greasy ground beef.
- It’s okay to throw the frozen chicken into the Crock-Pot. It will thaw and cook while in the pot. I promise. FYI – if you’re cooking a whole chicken, thaw it enough to take the gizzard pouch out of the inside before putting it in. Not that I’ve ever forgotten to do that *ahem.*
- Don’t overfill. The slow cooker should be half to 2/3rds full when you start cooking.
- Follow the recipe instructions. If it says to add something in during the last 30 minutes of cooking, do it. If it wants you to combine ingredients before adding them, do it. There are reasons why the instructions are what they are, so trust them.
What can your teen make in a slow cooker aside from main meat dishes?
More Ideas to Get Your Teens Cooking
- 10 Simple Breakfast Recipes Teens Will Want to Make
- Cooking Ideas for Teens Inspired by Festival Dishes
- Holiday Dishes from Around the World Teens Will Enjoy
- How to Make a DIY Cookbook for Kids
If you don’t currently use your slow cooker much, it’s time to dust it off and let your teen test it out. This might be the tool that gets him excited about cooking!
Thank you for this fun post. Cooking is definitely something I want my kids to know how to do and so far I have found that they have a natural interest in it – who doesn’t love food! I never thought to have them using my slow cooker though – what a great idea! I am excited to expose them to the world of slow cooker convenience. 🙂 Thanks for the fun pinterest board too. Some of our favorite slow cooker dinners are chili, all sorts of chicken dinners, and roast. Yum! You mentioned adding frozen chicken to the crock pot – I love cutting down on preparation time. Can that be applied to other meats as well? And does that add on to the cooking time for the recipe? Thanks!
You’re welcome Sarah! With 3 nights filled with commitments every week, we have been using our slow cooker more and more. It’s definitely a tool I want my girls to have in their cooking arsenal 🙂
I’ve never added much time when I use frozen chicken. Just make sure it’s cooked through before you take it out. My experience has been that there is plenty of cook time built in, so I’ve rarely had to extend it. Plus, often, we don’t eat right after the timer goes off and it sits warming for a while, which continues the cooking too. I’ve only done it with chicken because it’s one of the only meats you don’t have to sear or cook through before adding.
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