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Starving College Student = Crock Pot Reccomendations

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
After living in the dorms for a bit I am loving the feeling of semi-independence. However I am getting tired of paying too much for too little food that may or may not taste good. I am thinking of getting a crock pot in my room and basically cooking a lot of my own meals, making trips to grocery stores, etc.

Which model should I look into? Nothing too small, but nothing too big. I think a 3-4 quart size would suit me well so I can share with roommates and neighbors. Also I would like it fairly cheap, between $20-30.

What brands should I look into? After briefly looking through Amazon reviews it seems like Rival is a fairly cheap but not durable brand.

I would also prefer something that is programmable or at least will turn off to the "warm" setting after it's done cooking. So far this model looks good to me and I am pretty sure I saw it for cheaper in the store.

I would like something that requires minimal hassle that will fit around my class schedules. Basically, throw stuff in, turn it on in the morning, come back in the evening for a nice meal.

Any suggestions? Personal advice or experiences? I would love to be able to move out next year and still use this crock pot to cook foods.
post #2 of 18
Rival is, in fact, a cheap but reliable brand. If the crock pots with timers are pricey, you can also find the timers as separate components. I picked up one on sale at Target for $6 or so.

You have access to a refrigerator, yes? Because you're likely to have leftovers, unless your dormmates descend like locusts.
post #3 of 18
For the last few years the big box stores (Lowe's, Home Despot, Target, Kohl's, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc) have been having a crockpot war on Black Friday. So, if you can wait until the day after Thanksgiving (and feel like fighting the crowds) you'll be able to pick up a damn good (Rival or equal) crockpot for $10. I guess the kind they are selling at that price is normally 17-20.

A quick search online shows that in previous years you could get a 5.5 qt and a little mini crockpot for $20 at K-Mart, a 5.5 qt in camo for about $20 at Bass Pro, a 3.5 qt Rival at Lowe's for $10, etc.

edit - rumor is Ace Hardware will be selling this travel clothing steamer for $15 on Black Friday http://www.acehardware.com/product/i...g0O33JDbYKv09Q
post #4 of 18
Crock pots are cheap. Get any of the popular brand and you won't regret it. If it breaks down, you're out 10 bucks. For the more expensive versions, look for a ceramic pot.
post #5 of 18
Agreed. There is no magic science behind a crockpot nor is quality all that important for your needs. I mean the basic premise of a crockpot is to just slow-cook the crap out of something. You don't need a lot of bells or whistles for that. If the extra $20-30 is worth it to have a programmable crock pot that comes with a timer than by all means go with it. But as a student you're schedule shouldn't be so constrained that you can't head to the kitchen and turn a knob. Just trust the collective wisdom of Amazon and order whatever is highly rated of of it and you'll do fine. 3-4 quarts might be a little small if you are looking to feed 3+ people. The thing with a crockpot is that many of the recipes take 6+ hours. Even if the preparation is a snap that is still a hefty chunk of time that will make you want to cook with leftovers in mind. Even though you didn't ask, here is my favorite easy crockpot recipe. Get one pork shoulder, the largest you can fit into your pot. Cover it in worscestershire sauce and make sure you have enough to completely coat the bottom. Next liberally apply brown sugar to the entire surface area of the pork shoulder. Cook for 7-8 hours. The meat will shred off and taste surprisingly juicy and flavorful. You now have a great protein dish you can serve with the carb/veggie combo of your choice. My favorite is to combine it with a tortilla and some sauteed vegetables Also, if you are making a soup out of it, don't add the noodles at the beginning of the process. They'll be turned into mush by the time you eat it. Had to toss a pot of chicken soup because of this rookie mistake.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday View Post
You have access to a refrigerator, yes? Because you're likely to have leftovers, unless your dormmates descend like locusts.

I do not mind sharing with dormmates, in fact, I encourage it. The problem with our fridge is that it's small and there's not much room for a larger one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyquik View Post
For the last few years the big box stores (Lowe's, Home Despot, Target, Kohl's, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc) have been having a crockpot war on Black Friday. So, if you can wait until the day after Thanksgiving (and feel like fighting the crowds) you'll be able to pick up a damn good (Rival or equal) crockpot for $10. I guess the kind they are selling at that price is normally 17-20.

A quick search online shows that in previous years you could get a 5.5 qt and a little mini crockpot for $20 at K-Mart, a 5.5 qt in camo for about $20 at Bass Pro, a 3.5 qt Rival at Lowe's for $10, etc.

I'm not in the mood to fight through the crowds to save $10 but thanks for the info. Money is not the sole issue for me, convenience is a larger factor for me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Happydayz View Post
Agreed. There is no magic science behind a crockpot nor is quality all that important for your needs. I mean the basic premise of a crockpot is to just slow-cook the crap out of something. You don't need a lot of bells or whistles for that. If the extra $20-30 is worth it to have a programmable crock pot that comes with a timer than by all means go with it. But as a student you're schedule shouldn't be so constrained that you can't head to the kitchen and turn a knob.

Just trust the collective wisdom of Amazon and order whatever is highly rated of of it and you'll do fine. 3-4 quarts might be a little small if you are looking to feed 3+ people. The thing with a crockpot is that many of the recipes take 6+ hours. Even if the preparation is a snap that is still a hefty chunk of time that will make you want to cook with leftovers in mind.

Even though you didn't ask, here is my favorite easy crockpot recipe. Get one pork shoulder, the largest you can fit into your pot. Cover it in worscestershire sauce and make sure you have enough to completely coat the bottom. Next liberally apply brown sugar to the entire surface area of the pork shoulder. Cook for 7-8 hours.

The meat will shred off and taste surprisingly juicy and flavorful. You now have a great protein dish you can serve with the carb/veggie combo of your choice. My favorite is to combine it with a tortilla and some sauteed vegetables

Also, if you are making a soup out of it, don't add the noodles at the beginning of the process. They'll be turned into mush by the time you eat it. Had to toss a pot of chicken soup because of this rookie mistake.

I'm only looking to feed myself and possibly roommates so something like 1-3 people.

Thanks for the recipe, actually, I really need it. I am such a novice at cooking that even something like a crock pot intimidates me and I don't see how I can make anything in it other than stews.
post #7 of 18
Crock pots are great but you don't necessarily need one. I make slow roasts and stews with a regular pot, both on the stove and in the oven. Just cook slow and low.
post #8 of 18
Great meal idea for your croc pot: Wal-mart sells these frozen bag meals for under $5 600 calories for a whole bag with enough food for 2 people. This will probably fill you up with enough left over for a light lunch. Pretty standard flavors; pot roast, chicken and dumplings, and beef stew. Mediocre flavor for a good price.
post #9 of 18
Thrift stores can be a good place to get a crock pot for like $5.

The ones with out a timer are incredibly simple items (not that the timer is very complicated) so they are just as good after years of use as brand new...

If you want to go super cheap, get a light timer and use it to shut off the power when the food is done...not quite warm setting but it will stay warm for a little while (and then when you move into your first college apartment, you won't have to shell out for a light timer the first time you take a vacation)
post #10 of 18
With any cooking appliance you intend to use on a regular basis, you will not regret spending a little extra to get a quality model and the features you desire.

I'd suggest either thrift it for one that (hopefully) works for a few bucks, or shell out more than $20 for one you expect to keep and use for years.

For the price difference between $20 and a highly rated pot for, say $70ish, we're talking a couple nights out. Just hit the water instead of the third or fourth beer on tap and soon you'll have that 'extra' $50 for the appliance.

Just my 2 cents....
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Alright at this point I'm trying to figure out how exactly I'm going to live off the food I cook and how I'm going to cook it. Right now I am looking at massing a collection of sauces and spices and then just going daily to the supermarket to pick up meats, throw in planned combinations and eat them with rice/tortillas.

So basically I'm asking, what should I stock as essentially ingredients?

Ingredients:
-Worchester Sauce
-Salt/Pepper
-???

I'm not exactly sure what else I need. Maybe some beef/bullion cubes? I want to keep it down to simple, basic stock ingredients that I will be able to innovate and create recipes out of.

Also I realize that Sf might not be the best place for me to ask all these questions so I am asking has anyone found useful forums/cookbooks? I have been googling for forums and recipes but they all look the same and I'm not sure if I'm going to end up on the Kinowear forums of Crockpots so pointing in the right direction would help me a lot.
post #12 of 18
Lipton's instant French onion soup mix. There are all sorts of variations on the French onion soup + roast combo. Some require only the roast and soup (and maybe a can of mushroom soup), while others add veg.

Here's a collection of crock-pot recipes requiring six items or less.
post #13 of 18
Simple chili,
1 can kidney beans
1 can mixed beans (whatever you like)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 Large onion (I prefer sweet)
1 pack of chili seasoning mix (if you wanna keep it simple)
1/2 to 1lb of ground beef or ground turkey

Cook the meat in a pan till it is slightly browned. Empty both cans of beans into the crock pot, chop the onion any way you like (i like to quarter it) toss it in, put the meat and seasoning in. Set the crock pot on medium or so. Let it go over night and or all day. If I leave it over night I set it to low in the morning. House will smell great and you will have awesome chili when you get home from school. Toss in Fritos and cheese or use tortillas.
post #14 of 18
Just stick with salt and pepper for now. The temptation is to grab a ton of spices all at once. However oftentimes you end up rarely if ever using a lot of them. Take your time, figure out your cooking style, and then go from there. If money is an issue you can't go wrong with rice and beans.
post #15 of 18
When I was in school, my roommate made this 2 day chili. Forgot how he did it, but he left it on the crockpot for 2 days, and it was the best freakin chili ever.
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