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la_di_da (#1,425)

The thing about slow cookers, and I love them, is that most cooking times are 6 hours. i.e. not quite long enough for me to go to work and come back. As long as whatever you are making can take a little extra simmering, you’re good to go. Plus, leftovers for a week.

BillfoldMonkey (#1,754)

@la_di_da Agreed, plus I’m always terrified the whole time that my dog will climb up on the counter to get at whatever’s in the cooker and then somehow burn the house down. Slow cookers are a Sunday tool for me–cook on Sunday, eat all week.

womb bat (#3,498)

@la_di_da One thing I’ve learned with chicken dishes is that it helps a lot to cut the chicken up before you put it in, doesn’t dry out as much. This morning I cut up 3 chicken breasts and an onion then threw in a pouch of Frontera sauce. I’ve also just used salsa + cumin in a pinch and it turned out great. By the time I get home it will have sat in there for 9+ hours.

jennonthego (#5,366)

@la_di_da I’ve taken to making my slow cooker meal on Sunday afternoon and then putting it in the fridge. I have to microwave it every night, but it’s still better for me than Lean Cuisine and it’s already made, so I don’t have to think about it.

pearl (#153)

@la_di_da Isn’t the advantage of a fancier one like the one above is that it turns to “warm” after the timer runs out? So you can get back from work and it’ll be warm, but not cook any longer.

@mmleadinglady I do something similar. One of my brilliant coworkers pointed out that you could just cook a bunch of plain-ish chicken in the Sunday big batch, and then FLAVOR it differently throughout the week. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!

notpollyanna (#2,841)

@la_di_da I have a cat who likes to wake me up periodically through the night, so I slow cook at night. Instead of wandering around twiddling my thumbs for a few minutes before the meowy one will calm himself, I check on the food.

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@BillfoldMonkey I will admit leaving my slow cooker on in the bathroom when I’m at work because I also have a fear of my dog pulling it down onto himself. It does seem weird to have my bathroom smell like BBQ for a few days, but it’s worth the peace of mind.

@la_di_da This is true of most recipes with chicken breasts or thighs, but there are a ton of low and slow recipes that do take 8+ hrs, like whole beef roasts and whole chickens.

Also, you should get a slow cooker that switches from low to warm once the time on it is up, so it will keep your food warm for when you come home but not keep cooking it.

CheddarCheesus (#4,629)

@la_di_da I just today read about a crock pot with wireless that you can control via your phone should you wind up being away longer than you thought. Even though I just bought a new one (with owls on it!), I’m already planning my upgrade.

Allison (#4,509)

I love my slow cooker, I’m not super creative about what I make in it, but the two or three things I switch between (and non-slowcooker stuff) is awesome. Love when packing my lunch means grabbing a thing out of the fridge and little else.

jquick (#3,730)

@Allison Any vegetarian suggestions for a slow cooker?

megra (#2,906)

@jquick http://coffeeinthewoodshed.com/2013/10/08/id-like-to-sip-my-cider/ that is a great one! very easy in a crock pot and I added sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped to be a little smaller than the squash) and lentils (the protein really helped keep me full!). I’d definitely pack a slice or two of lime to squeeze on top right before you eat it.

Also froze a jar or two and that worked well!

Allison (#4,509)

@jquick I’m a total meat eater, but my roommate does a lot of things with lentils, but I think those usually involve chicken, too. You could do a vegetarian chili maybe? I don’t know what veggies can stand up to hours and hours of cooking by themselves.

eatmoredumplings (#3,808)

@jquick Honestly a slow cooker is a little overkill for most vegetarian stuff, since most of the work there is in the chopping, not the cooking. I have a hand-me-down one and I pretty much just use it to cook beans, but even dry and straight from the bag, they’re totally cooked in about 3 hours on high. I do my slow-cooking on the weekends but I know someone who does it after dinner but before bed to eat the next day.

That said, Smitten Kitchen’s black beans are really good as soup or with rice/burritos/what have you. Also, this Bon Appetit recipe for white beans has links at the bottom for other variations on how to use the beans: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/cannellini-beans-with-garlic-and-sage And http://www.thekitchn.com has some weird slow-cooker recipes like bread, enchiladas, and baked potatoes that you could check out (although I personally don’t see how that’s easier than just making them in the oven).

RVA_TXN (#1,461)

This reasoning sounds oddly familiar… hope it works out better for you than it did for me.

jquick (#3,730)

That’s it?

A few more suggestions:
Use the library for magazines, books, newspapers, DVDs, music.
Pay per minute cell phone.
Cancel cable and subscribe to Netflix streaming.

omgkitties (#206)

@jquick Yes to the library! A lot are using Zinio now, a service for e-magazines. Worth checking out.

jquick (#3,730)

@omgkitties Thanks for the Zinio tip. Will check it out.

Allison (#4,509)

@jquick a big library fan here, if yours uses the Overdrive system for ebooks etc, there’s an app for iPhone (maybe android, I’m not sure) that means you can download ebooks and audiobooks directly to your phone and it’s wonderful.

meatballsub (#5,401)

That thermos was the best thing I bought in 2013.

Adam (#5,554)

I’m very curious to hear more about the author’s decision re: the bike. I attempted to calculate transportation costs for myself for various modes of transport – it’s tricky. But the bottom line is – biking us one of the best ways in the universe to cut the costs in your life *bigtime* if you are trying to get serious about saving.

If I drove, annual costs for a car ownership for me would be around $5000 or so. That takes into account monthly car payments, monthly insurance payments, monthly gas costs, monthly parking payments, and yearly expected maintenance.

I did *not* factor in unexpected car ownership cash drains, like parking tickets, insurance deductibles in the event of an incident, or catastrophic costs like the engine failing and needing replacing for example (add couple extra grand).

I also didn’t factor in what I like to call the intangibles – the health costs both to my body, and to my wallet, from being a lazy-ass who drives almost everywhere and has a whole host of chronic sedentary/ obseity-related costs – diabetes, cancer etc etc etc. As I said, I don’t own a car, but these were my estimated calculations. Driving would come out to $13.69 per day, and significantly more if I added unexpected or intangible costs.

If I took the bus, I can get an annual pass here in Portland for $1100, which compared to the costs of driving, is a steal!! The downside us a bit more standing around, but then that’s generally the trade off for getting rich – spending your time, rather than spending your money. The bus would come out to $3.01 per day.

I bike a lot, and my annual bike costs average around $250 per year. This includes an annual $200 overhaul, where the bike shop takes your whole bike apart, cleans and replaces everything that is worn out etc, and hands you back a bike that is almost brand new. It also includes buying batteries for my bike lights, and the odd replacement bike tube if I get a rare flat. Biking comes out to 68 cents a day.

Recently, I have started running to work 5k each way. Annual costs I would estimate at $150 per year – $120 for new running shoes, the rest for other running paraphernalia. I can’t run further distances really as it would take too long, so biking is better value for me overall in the value-for-money stakes – it costs little, often is faster than the bus, and is sometimes faster than driving – during rush-hour, it always is. Running comes out to 41 cents a day.

I am always very curious the reasons people profer for their transportation choices. Are they safety-related, or weather-related, or laziness-related, economic-related, or….?

It absolutely fascinates me, the way we all choose to get to work, and our reasons why or why not. And of course, the effects on our wallets!

jquick (#3,730)

@Adam I live in central Oregon and have an ebike (electric bike), and LOVE it. It’s pricey – around $1500 – but I rarely use a car AND I get exercise. If I lived in Portland, I’d get it insured. Hubby bought a scooter and every time he fills it up with one gallon of gas, he has to tell me his mpg, which hovers around 100. Granted, we live in a smaller, laid back town where people do NOT drive fast and crazy.

acid burn (#113)

@Adam I also live in Portland. I’m an intermittant bike-rider and I would say the main things keeping me from using my bike as my main source of transportation are weather, not wanting to be sweaty and gross when I arrive at my destination, and max tracks-related trauma (two crashes = I am extremely wary of the whole inner west side, but I’m slowly easing back into that area).

The main thing is the sweatiness. If I had access to a shower at my work (or now school) it would be a different story, but right now when I ride to school (4.2 miles one way, generally about 30 minutes depending on stoplights and such) I have to sit around cooling off for another 15-20 minutes, take a paper towel-bath in the restroom and change into a new set of clothes that I have to fit in my bag that’s already full of school books and such. It makes the whole process into a giant hassle and the savings is usually not worth the inconvenience to me. I hope that wherever I end up getting a job after I graduate has some kind of locker room/shower facility so that I can bike more consistently because I really do like doing it, and running to work also sounds awesome to me.

Also, since you’re curious: my car is paid off and I don’t pay for parking, so everyday driving costs me about $0.75 in gas per day plus about $3 in insurance/maintenance. So, less than five bucks a day is pretty manageable for me, especially when I add in the ability to get large quantities of toilet paper at Costco, or to easily get out of town for the weekend, or whatever.

Titania (#489)

@Adam Speaking as someone who lives in New York City (where the author lives) our options are quite a bit different. Even if you chose to own a car here (which, with a parking garage around $300 a month is an extremely expensive proposition) you wouldn’t use it to commute, except in a few cases of reverse commuting to NJ or Long Island. An unlimited monthly Metrocard costs $120 and that is the longest-term option; there is no annual. The cost is justified if you use it twice per day. An annual Citibike membership is $100, assuming you both live and work near a Citibike station. There is a huge aftermarket in bikes here, but I am with Mr. Benson on this one: biking in the greatest city in the world is not for everyone. I found that the health and cost benefits were deeply impacted by a) confronting death every morning before work riding up 6th Avenue (and that was IN A BIKE LANE) and b) having my bike stolen once, backed over by a truck once (bending the front wheel and requiring an expensive cab ride home plus the cost of replacement) and scraping my leg until it bled every day after I started carrying it into my apartment so it wouldn’t get stolen again. Some buildings here have bike storage; that is usually also not free. Or, you can run/walk. Which I did for years when my commute was a 30 minute walk; it’s now about an hour-long walk. I might try again, but how the hell do you make the logistics of getting dressed for work make sense? I am a woman; I need to pack heels and delicate fabrics and if my hair gets sweaty, it will not just dry right away. Do you run with a backpack? Where do you shower? For now, I’m sticking with the gym membership and the monthly Metrocard but it is killing me after years of not paying for one.

Adam (#5,554)

Re: the running, I run slowly (tho more through necessity as I’m a beginner runner!) so I don’t get too sweaty. I bike to work one day per week, which enables me the carrying capacity to bring a week’s change of clothes, toiletries, stuff for lunch to put in the fridge, etc. in my panniers. It’s really worked out for me. As long as I have wipes, deodorant, hair products at work already, I’m good to go. I started running to help with depression, so the minor inconvienience of having to figure out how to cart around a stick of Teen Spirit is rather overshadowed byhe amazing benefits for my mental health.

I hear the same reasons people don’t bike again and again and again, and they are completely valid. Safety fears, terrible in attentive drivers, no facilities at work to freshen up, etc. but I thinkhis is why it is so important to keep demanding these things. DEMAND safer roads to get yourself around your city. DEMAND shower facilities at work – it’s been proven again and again that fitter, healthier employees are more productive employees who take less sick days off. DEMAND laws preventing drivers from distracted driving habits that kill others – texting while driving etc.. It’s so important!

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

I’m a huge fan of the “byo-food” drawer. I literally have a drawer at work with oatmeal, granola bars, almonds, soup packets, whatever. I also have a shelf of instant coffee, variety of tea, hot chocolate, anything to keep me from buying stuff just to get me through the day.

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