Does this sound familiar:  “A slow cooker?  I have one of those – in the back of my cabinet – somewhere.  It comes out about once every winter.” I am not really sure how or when crockpots became winter-only-worthy to many people.  Sure you can use it to make great soups and stews, but a slow cooker is good for so much more! Summer is slow cooker season!  

Why Use A Crockpot In Warm Weather?

There are many good reasons to use your slow cooker during long, hot summer days. Here are five: 

Crockpots let you spend more time at the pool, beach, home office, home school, etc. Since slow cookers cook so nice and slow (a new tongue twister for you!) their recipes don’t generally have an exact completion   time the way oven cooked meals can.  You don’t need to hover over your slow cooker and remove the food the minute a timer goes off.  They are very forgiving of people who (like me!) are perpetually running late.  Newer models even have timers and sensors that automatically switch to warm after a set time or internal temperature is reached.  Spend more time with the kids and less over the stove!

Slow cooker food travels really well. Many crockpot models come with locking lids making transportation super easy.  Heading out for a picnic?  Going to a BBQ and want to bring a ready made side dish?  Attending a socially distanced backyard potluck?  Your slow cooker is the way to go!

Slow cookers are great for camping. Heading out to the middle of nowhere for some family time?   Bring your slow cooker along!  It is a great way to make a side dish to go with all the fish you plan to catch (or a great main course if you don’t catch any!).  Also perfect if you need to cook in a hotel room. 

Slow cooker meals make great family projects. Get the kids involved!  Cooking in a slow cooker is a great family activity.  Slow cookers heat up very slowly and are generally not turned on until all ingredients are in and ready to go. This makes them safer for kids than a stove top or oven. Measuring, mixing, reading and following instructions….all make for great family fun and learning experiences!

Slow cookers give off very little heat. Ovens, on the other hand, can (and do) warm a whole room.  Want to keep your house cool and avoid having your A/C work overtime? Pull out that crockpot.  

Fun Summer Slow Cooker Meals

In addition to cooking together, there are many slow cooker recipes that lend themselves to great family meal experiences. Make-your-own dishes such as tacos, bowls and salads can all start in a crockpot.  Recipes such as this one for shredded chicken tacos or this beef barbacoa are perfect for a make-your-own dinner bar. Change things up by using them to top baked potatoes or lettuce. Walking tacos are another great way to use these slow cooker dishes.  These are made by opening up individual sized bags of Fritos or Doritos and adding one of the above meat dishes along with your favorite toppings!   

Great Family Activities

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Crockpots are for more than meals!  They are also great for making fun appetizers, desserts and giftable homemade food treats:

Chocolate dipping:  Slow cookers are the perfect temperature for melting chocolate and keeping it just the right consistency for creating culinary works of art like these strawberries! (This project is better with older kids as the chocolate will get hot.) 

Hot Dog Pull-Apart: This fun dish is a hit both at home and for a party!

Make Your Own Apple Butter:  This is an especially great project if you have the opportunity to visit an apple orchard and pick-your-own! 

So, dig out that crockpot and banish thoughts of the cold winter days. Instead, put it to work making some delicious meals and good old-fashioned fun during the summer slow cooker season!  

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