The Crock-Pot – It’s Not Just for Cooking
You might have a truly wonderful gadget in your kitchen that you’re not making full use of. If not, you’ll want to go out and buy one right away. It’s the Crock-Pot.
It brings to mind things like long-simmering stews, but it also has several other uses that can save you a fair bit of time and money. Head to your kitchen the next time it rains and you’re looking for something to amuse your kids, or in a pinch when you don’t have time to run to the store or pharmacy.
1) The Obvious – Cooking
Let’s start with the obvious. The Crock-Pot is awesome because it doesn’t heat up your house when you cook indoors in the summer. Plus you can make any number of recipes with just a few ingredients when time is tight or you just don’t feel like fussing in the kitchen. Toss in a pork shoulder and some barbecue sauce and you’ll have pulled pork sandwiches hours later – hours that you can spend doing something else.
2) Keep the Kids Amused
It’s the weekend, maybe raining, and your kids are bored. Not a problem. Let them help you make playdough in the Crock-Pot. You’ll need 2 cups of all-purpose flour, a cup of salt, ¼ cup cream of tartar, 2 cups hot water and 2 teaspoons cooking oil. Toss everything into a slow cooker that’s already warmed up to the low setting, mix it and turn the temperature to high. Two hours or so later, you should have playdough. Encourage the little ones to help you stir it periodically. Adding some food coloring can jazz things up a little.
3) Make Some Candles
Don't throw out those stubby, burned-down candles that don’t seem to be good for anything anymore. Turn them into new candles in your Crock-Pot instead. If you bought some in those nifty glass jars, scoop the remaining wax out and clean the jars. Refill them with the remnants of the candles and tuck wicks into their centers. You can also use shot glasses, tea cups or any other glass jars you might have on hand. Place them in your Crock-Pot side-by-side; don’t stack them. Turn it to high. You’ll have several nice, new candles about 30 minutes later.
4) Stop Spending Money on Air Freshener
Guests are stopping by later – maybe your in-laws – and your house smells musty because it’s been closed up all week while you’ve been at work and the kids were at school. Throw some baking soda and water into your Crock-Pot, and then add spices or a smell-good extract of your choice. Ideally, you’ll want about an 8-hour head start so you can let everything simmer on the low setting and permeate your home, but you can turn your Crock-Pot to high for half that time in a pinch.
5) When You Need a Heating Pad
Maybe you tweaked a muscle at the gym or you have one of those jobs that keeps you on your feet most of the day, so your back is killing you. Your Crock-Pot can come to the rescue again. Roll up a few hand towels and add a little water, but not too much. You want them moist, not sopping. “Cook” the towels on low for an hour or two. Voila – you have heating pads. Pluck them out with tongs when they’re warm and ready. Let them cool down a bit first before applying them.
6) It Can Even Help With Skin Care
If you’ve priced moisturizers lately, you know that they can sometimes be exorbitant. Why not use your Crock-Pot to make your own? You’ll need 1 cup each of coconut oil and shea or cocoa butter and half a cup of beeswax pellets. Add them to your Crock-Pot with 2 tablespoons vitamin E oil. Mix everything and turn it to low. Pour the mixture into a bowl when it’s melted and let it cool, then add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender. Beat it with a mixer set at high speed for a minute or two and you’ll have your own lotion.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years, specializing in issues of personal finance. She has offered personal finance workshops for single, divorced, and new parents.