Is a slow cooker cost-effective? Your burning questions answered


"Master the Art of the Slow Cooker (202/365)" by trenttsd is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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In the 1970s, when the slow cooker was released, the cost was about $25 per unit. Though considered relatively expensive for the time, overall, using a slow cooker saved people a lot of money. 

So, are slow cookers cost effective? Yes, they are! 

Because slow cookers are more cost-effective, those who used a slow cooker saved money on their utility bills and saved time by not having to stand over a stove watching their food cook.

Compared to electric ovens and ranges, slow cookers are more energy-efficient, making them more cost-effective. However, there are select meals where slow cookers are not as cost-effective as other means of cooking.

Is a slow cooker cost-effective

Many factors determine if a slow cooker is more cost-effective than using an oven or range. The most significant factor is the cost of energy where you live, which varies from state to state, but overall, the slow cooker is more cost-effective. Additionally, those who live in a hotter climate and use air conditioning can save energy by not cooling the home to compensate for using the oven for a few hours.

Is a slow cooker expensive to use

Slow cooker costs depend significantly upon the energy used. Cooking in a slow cooker generally takes between six and ten hours, depending upon the meal and temperature. On average, when using a $0.11 per kWh rate, the slow cooker uses 0.8 kWh for eight hours of use, which costs about $0.88. At this rate, using a slow cooker is not as expensive as using an oven or range.

Is it cheaper to use a slow cooker than an oven

Most of the time, a slow cooker is cheaper than cooking in an oven — gas and electric. For example, when compared to a gas oven, cooking a roast in a slow cooker only uses 0.8 kWh for eight hours of cooking on low, while the oven uses 3 kWh for 1.5 hours at 350 °F. Though prices vary by state for electricity, let’s say the cost of a kWh is $0.11. Cooking the same roast in a slow cooker would cost $0.088, and in the oven, it would cost $0.33, making the slow cooker cheaper to use.

When cooking a quick soup in a slow cooker for eight hours, the cost would be $0.88 for eight hours. The same soup simmered on the stovetop for one hour would also cost $0.88. Ultimately, cooking simple soups costs the same to make it on the stovetop and in the slow cooker. But larger meals are still more cost-effective to make in a slow cooker.

Slow cooker will save you money, for sure. I spend a lot of time researching slow cookers and to save you time and money, I narrowed down the best selection in the table below. These slow cookers are best rated and most loved by home cooks in the USA.

BEST MULTIPURPOSE

INSTAPOT - BEST MULTIPURPOSE SLOW COOKER
  • 7-IN-1 APPLIANCES: electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan and food warmer
  • QUICK ONE-TOUCH COOKING with 13 Smart Touch customizable programs for pressure cooking ribs, soups, beans, rice, poultry, yogurt, desserts and more on autopilot
  • COOK FAST OR COOK SLOW with pressure cooking up to 70% faster than traditional cooking methods or slow cooking for traditional grandma-approved recipes
  • QUICK AND EASY CLEAN-UP with finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories
  • 10 PLUS PROVEN SAFETY FEATURES including overheat protection and safe-locking lid

Last update on 2021-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

BEST SLOW COOKER

Sale
CROCKPOT - BEST SLOW COOKER
  • 6 quart Cook & Carry Slow Cooker serves 7+ people
  • Digital countdown control lets you program cook times anywhere from 30 minutes up to 20 hours; shifts to Warm setting automatically once cook time completes
  • Easy to use locking lid featuring lid gasket provides extra seal for less mess on the go
  • All Crock Pot Slow Cooker removable stone inserts (without lid) may be used safely in the microwave and the oven set up to 400 degree F; If you own another slow cooker brand, please refer to your owner’s manual for specific crockery cooking medium tolerances
  • Works on 240 Watts at 120V A.C; and 60Hz

Last update on 2021-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

BEST CHEAPEST SLOW COOKER

CROCKPOT - BEST SLOW COOKER
  • 1.5 Quart removable inner stoneware pot
  • Convenient LOW / HIGH / KEEP WARM settings
  • Attractive stainless steel finish and tempered clear glass lid
  • Cool-touch handles and knobs while powered at 120 watts
  • Dishwasher safe glass lid and stoneware pot

Last update on 2021-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Slow cooker vs gas stove cost-efficiency

When compared to a gas stove, cooking beef stew in a slow cooker only uses 0.8 kWh for eight hours of cooking on low or medium, while the gas stove uses between 1000-3000 Watts of power. Though prices vary by state for electricity, let’s say the cost of a kWh is $0.11Cooking the same beef stew in a slow cooker would cost $0.088, and on a gas stove, it would cost from $0,1 – $0.33, making the slow cooker cheaper to use.

Is it worth buying a slow cooker?

Slow cookers prepare meals at temperatures between 170° F and 280° F. Slow cookers heat food over an extended period at this temperature but allow for food to cook evenly because of its wrap-around design. Slow cookers use a combination of slower cook times, direct heat, and steam for a safe and cost-effect method to cook food.

Buying a slow cooker is worth buying. Slow cookers vary in price, ranging from $25 to $200 (or more), based on size and unique features. But, long-term, the money saved on energy makes buying a slow cooker worth every penny.

In addition to being more cost-effective, slow cookers offer a lot of conveniences. For example, once the meal is in the slow cooker, you only need to stir it a couple of times. So busy moms can put dinner in the slow cooker while the kids play in the morning, and later that day, dinner is all ready to serve.

How much electricity does a slow cooker use per hour?

Most slow cookers use less energy than a standard light bulb; however, the overall energy usage depends greatly upon cooking on the low or high setting. Other factors affecting the energy used include the size of the slow cooker and cooking time. On average, per hour, a slow cooker uses between 0.1 kWh to 0.3 kWh of electricity, depending upon many factors.

Below are five slow cooker models and how much electricity used per hour based on the total watts of each cooker:

What affects the electricity used when cooking in a slow cooker?

The calculations above only provide a rough estimation of how much it costs to operate a slow cooker. Many factors affect the total slow cooker energy consumption, including size, options, length of cooking, and slow cooker model. Continue reading to learn how each one of these affects the total electricity consumption of slow cookers.

"Slow cooker Teriaki ribs" by EatLiveGrowPaleo.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Slow cooker size

The total energy consumption of a slow cooker varies depending on the size. Larger slow cookers use a considerable more amount of kWh than smaller ones do. In addition, because the surface area of the heating plate is larger, there is a need for more energy usage, regardless of how much food is inside.

Cooking options

Most slow cookers come with three cooking options — low, high, and warm — all of which can affect the energy used. These options are great because not all meals require the same temperature to cook. However, it is best to cook on low most of the time because meats have the best flavor and use less energy. Cooking on low may require additional energy usage; however, cooking on high for less time uses more energy than cooking longer on low.

Length of cooking

The time it takes to cook a meal in a slow cooker is the ultimate decision-maker when determining how much energy it uses. Cooking times vary depending on the meal and at what temperature, affecting the total kWh used.

Slow cooker model

Every slow cooker is different. Differences include size, watts, and features, all of which can affect the energy needed to operate the slow cooker. The amount of energy used depends upon each make and model of slow cookers.

Besides electricity, what are some indirect cost efficiencies of slow cooker?

Slow cookers are for the frugal-minded because most models are inexpensive, and they are cheap to operate.However, there are many additional benefits to using a slow cooker. Continue reading to learn more about why to use a slow cooker:

Health benefits

Slow cooker meals generally do not call for added oils or fats, which makes them healthier.Most of the time, water replaces using heavy oils and greases in the slow cooker. Essentially, water is more cost-effective than paying for oils and greases to cook in.

Cooking made easy

It is as easy as 1-2-3. To use, layer the ingredients in the slow cooker, set the temperature, and forget it! It is possible to put the meal in the slow cooker before work, and dinner is ready and waiting upon returning home. Having meals ready iscost-effect because there is no need to stop at a drive-thru to pick up dinner after work.

Easy clean-up

Using a slow cooker means there is no need to have multiple pots and pans to cook a single dinner. Everything is in one pot, which means there is less to clean up. Most slow cookers have a removable pot, which often only needs a good soaking and wipe down. Plastic liners can be used and thrown away after cooking.

With such an easy clean-up, cooking in a slow cooker helps provide even more energy savings. Fewer dishes to wash means less water used and less energy to heat the water for the dishwasher.

Saves time

With everyone living busy lives, using a slow cooker helps save time for those precious life moments. Place the meal in the slow cooker, and it cooks all day with only a couple of stirs throughout the day.

Time is just as valuable as the energy used to cook a meal. Since meals can be set in the slow cooker and forgotten for most of the day, it is possible to do other things. There is no need to stand over the stove wasting time waiting for the meal to cook.

Instead of wasting time slaving over a hot stove, it is possible to enjoy time with the family, get some work done, or kick back and read a good book.

Meals are tasty

Meals prepared in a slow cooker come out juicy, tender, and more flavorful. Additionally, it is possible to turn less desirable meats and veggies into tasty meals by simmering for several hours in the slow cooker. Even less expensive meats and vegetables become mouth-watering and flavorful when cooked in a slow cooker.

Grocery store savings

Using a slow cooker makes even the cheapest cuts of meat tender, and often slow cooker meals require fewer ingredients, which means extra savings at the grocery store. Additionally, with fewer ingredients, it is possible to cook in larger batches, having leftovers for several days after.

Conclusion

Using a slow cooker is a very cost-effective method to cook. A slow cooker uses less energy most of the time than an oven or range, which means it costs less to operate. Additionally, there are many benefits to using a slow cooker, including saving valuable time and money on air conditioning bills.

Sources:

Photo credit: “Slow cooker Teriaki ribs” by EatLiveGrowPaleo.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo credit: “Master the Art of the Slow Cooker (202/365)” by trenttsd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Slow Cooker Wattage: How Much Electricity Does Your Cooker Use

https://extension.wvu.edu/food-health/cooking/using-a-slow-cooker

https://www.saveonenergy.com/electricity-rates/

Rok Jurca

I am a kind of person that would sneak a taste out of grandma’s pot when I was barely tall enough to reach it. I grew up in kitchens full of love and liveliness and have spent my whole live learning, experimenting and succeeding in the art of cooking. At Pro Family Chef, every day is an opportunity for a new meal and a brand new flavor. I created this website to connect people that love to cook, with the products designed to make their cooking easier, hassle-free and rewarding every time.

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