Do you have a crockpot – aka slow cooker – hidden deep inside a cupboard in your kitchen? Despite knowing that crockpots can save us time, most of us don’t pull ours out all that often. But did you know that crockpots can also save you money as many one-pot meals call for less expensive cuts of meat and they’re also more energy efficient than stovetop or oven cooking? Talk about the perfect accessory for a downturn diet.

If you’re just pulling yours out and dusting it off for the first time you may need some help getting started, so here’s a handy crockpot primer from Epicurious. We also asked healthy eater, Melanie Osmack of Fit 4 Two, for ideas and she shared the following delicious recipe:

Healthy Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Many of us avoid this yummy appetizer in restaurants because it is so full of fat and sodium.  By making it at home and choosing healthier dipping items, it can be a very nutritious appetizer or simple meal.

A note about ‘low fat’ and ‘no fat’ products: This recipe suggests lower fat versions of some ingredients.  When you are purchasing ‘low fat’ items, take a moment to read the label.  You want ingredients that reduce the fat without adding fillers and preservatives.  For this reason, we do not recommend ‘no fat’ products.  They are almost always brimming with extra ingredients that may be harmful to our health.

  • 1 cup low fat mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 200 grams low fat (not no fat) cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 398 ml jar or tin of artichokes packed in water (drained, rinsed and chopped)
  • 500 grams fresh spinach leaves (stems removed, washed and chopped)

Combine ingredients in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 2 hours.  When it is hot and bubbling it is ready to eat.  Before you reach for that bag of nacho chips, consider some healthier dipping choices such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, red pepper slices and toasted wedges of pita bread.

Oh, and here’s an easy way to make your crockpot do double duty as an air freshener. Hmm, saving time, money and energy and making your home smell better, that covers pretty much all the bases.