How I saved £200 per year on food bills: slow cooking

By Penny Golightly Sunday 27 October 2013

In this series by guest contributor Penny Golightly, we follow Penny's footstep on slashing those food bills. This week, how she tells us how investing in a slow cooker saves her approximately £200 per year !

I love my slow cooker, and use it most regularly during the colder months both for convenience and for saving money.

Modern slow cookers tend to use the same energy as two or three traditional 100W light bulbs, and although they’re usually on for between four and 12 hours, most use less total energy on the low setting than having the average electric oven on medium heat for two or three hours.

In addition to using less fuel in total, a slow cooker has a number of additional money-saving benefits. For example, you can use less pricey cuts of meat and still end up with slow-cooked gastropub style favourites such as casseroles, roasted shoulder of lamb, beef shins, and so on – the cooking process tenderises the meat fibres perfectly.

It’s also good for making soups, curries, hotpots, stock, bolognese sauce, and vegetarian dishes that are based on pulses. You can even make fish dishes, bread, cakes, puddings and jam in some slow cookers.

Put your ingredients into the slow cooker before you leave for work and come home to a healthy, warming meal that’s ready to eat. There is the small matter of doing this first thing in the morning when you might not feel like it, but many slow cookers like mine have removable cooking bowls so you could do your quick prep in the evening and store the bowl in the fridge overnight if you prefer.

Knowing a hot meal’s waiting at home (especially in the cold weather!) has turned out to be a surprisingly good way to stave off the temptation of expensive ready meals and takeaways, at least in my household. The slow cooker can also be used to make extra portions in one go, so that there’s some to store away in the freezer for a later date, a bit like a home made ready meal.

As the food in my slow cooker is very difficult to overcook, there’s less margin for error so we haven’t accidentally burned anything. The thermostat means you can walk away and not have to worry, and there’s less food welded to the pan after eating so cleaning up’s a bit easier too.

Useful slow cooker tips

  • Buy the right size cooker for your household (a 3.5 litre one makes about 2 litres of stew, for example)
  • Slow cookers with timers are the most versatile
  • Cookers with an ‘Auto cook’ function often give the best flavour results
  • An oval shaped dish makes it easier to cook whole chickens or meat joints
  • This method of cooking releases more liquid so allow for it when adapting recipes, and add plenty of aromatics and seasoning
  • If cooking dried beans, soak overnight and boil them on high for 10 minutes to get rid of toxins before slow cooking
  • Quickly fry onions and red meats to brown them before adding to the slow cooker
  • Slice vegetables a little thinner than usual as they soften less in a slow cooker
  • Don’t keep taking the lid off or it will take a lot longer to cook
  • Find second hand slow cooker books in charity shops or at car boot sales, or join an online community such as the ‘Slow Cooker Saddos’ Facebook group.

Saving never smelt so good! If you liked this post, check out how Penny saves £20 per week by using menu plans!

O​VO​ Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879

Additional terms and conditions
Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3-5% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.


1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount.  All rates correct as of 2/3/2018, but may go up or down.

2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas).  All rates correct as of 22/11/2017, but may go up or down.

3Pay Monthly Savings claims: Saving based on the estimated annual cost of OVO Two year fixed tariff for a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying monthly in advance by direct debit, including online discount. Comparisons made against the average of the Big 6 standard variable tariffs with equivalent features. All rates correct as of 2/3/2018.“The Big 6” are British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, Npower, E.ON and EDF.

4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location. 

We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.

33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.

OVO Interest Rewards: Interest Rewards are paid on credit balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit. Interest Rewards are paid monthly based on the number of days you’re in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply:

95% of new customers save when switching to OVO: Savings based on the average estimated annual costs for all new OVO customers quoted through the OVO website, compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/05/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT.

94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.

uSwitch's Energy Supplier of the Year 2017: OVO energy was voted and awarded  'Energy Supplier of the year' and best for: Overall Customer Satisfaction, Most Likely to be Recommended, Value for Money, Best Deal for You, Customer Service, Billing Services, Energy Efficiency, Meter Services, Online Services, Green Services and Transfer Process. OVO Energy scored a 96% customer satisfaction score.

* EV - Everywhere, full terms and conditions:

* OVO SolarStore (Beta), full terms and conditions:

Pay Monthly unit rates

PAYG unit rates

Read more Read less

Like most websites OVO Energy uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this site. Accept and Close