Slow cooker recipesI couldn’t survive without my slow cooker. Whoever invented them deserves a medal. It doesn’t matter how cheap the cut of meat (pig cheeks make a mean chilli) if you cook it long enough you’ve got at least two separate – healthy – meals everyone will love that doesn’t bust the budget (Saturday night’s pulled pork, pictured).

So for everyone who has a slow cooker lurking in the back of the cupboard which hasn’t seen the light of day for a while, or if you fancy the idea of slow cooking in the oven but aren’t quite sure how to go about it, I’m delighted to bring you a guest post from mum-of-two and keen cook Susan Jameson offering top tips on how to prepare great tasting, money-saving family meals:

Cool cuts for everyone: Enjoy a stew that cooks itself

With everyone leading such hectic lives, it can be very easy to forget to eat the best nutritional food available. It’s so easy to cook a really excellent meal from a few basic ingredients.

Preparing for a good meal

When deciding on the type of evening meal for you and your family, the first thing that comes to mind is how long it will take to cook. An easy way to make life simple is to prepare a rich and tasty family meal in advance, using either an expensive or more affordable cut of meat depending on your budget. You could also use a slow cooker for stews and casseroles to take the stress out of cooking. Cooking a casserole on a low temperature will bring out all of its wonderful taste. Start off with a shoulder of lamb and then experiment as you become more confident with this method of cooking.

Inexpensive cuts for a tasty meal

Lamb shank is one of the best meats to use to create a cheap and nutritional traditional casserole. Once you have picked up the basic skills, you can then simply experiment with different herbs and vegetables to conjure up a brilliant dish. This meal can be frozen for use at a later date.

Simple ingredients are always healthy

The basics of any stew or casserole are simple and cheap. Start with onions, carrots, and celery, then add herbs, salt and pepper and fry the mixture gently until everything has started to soften. Of course, if you are chilli and paprika mad then go ahead and do your thing. A lot of cooking is down to personal taste, so don’t feel that you have to follow instructions religiously. As long as you frequent a good butcher or a supermarket that uses excellent products, the meal is sure to taste fantastic. With some cuts of meat, the longer it sits in an oven at a low heat, the better.

Beef stew is also good

Beef has an undeserved reputation for being expensive. If you buy some braising steak you can just dice up a small amount, add some herbs and vegetables and even a can of stout and you’ll have a really tasty dish. You can freeze the casserole for future use if you don’t want to serve it straightaway, or if there are leftovers which can be used throughout the week – a great time saver for busy households.