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Even though the days are technically shorter they still seem to drag on…and on, and on! On these days (okay, let’s be honest, every single day) the last thing you want to do when you get home from working early, going to the gym, and attending social obligations, is to cook a nutritious meal. Espcially when it can be costly and time consuming. You know you need it, but a Netflix binge while scarfing down a bag of chips with a side of ice cream straight from the carton sounds WAY better. I can’t lie to you, this combination sounds amazing to me too, but since I said I can’t lie to you, I’m now obligated to give you the other half of the truth which is that: this isn’t healthy. It’s just going to set your next day up to feel even longer because you will be sluggish and unable to focus properly.

Why shoot yourself in the foot day after day for dinner when you can just get a slow cooker? Aside from the obvious benefit of slow cooked meals bringing you back to the good ol’ days of your grandma’s weekly Sunday get-togethers, there are a ton of very practical benefits for this investment. For starters, you will save money. Seriously, it doesn’t even cost very much to buy one in the first place. In the long run, you will save money too! For many slow cooker recipes you can use canned food and, depending on where you buy your groceries, cans of pretty much anything you can think of often sell for a dollar (sometimes even less). You can fit quite a bit of food in a slow cooker as well, so that means more meals from only one dinner-making session! Invest in some freezer bags and save your delicious creations for lunches at work, dinners later in the week, or for snacks when you are feeling too lazy to cook, by freezing your meals. Seriously, you were eating microwaved dinners before anyway - this is basically the same thing, except way healthier and tastier.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — because every time in the past that I’ve read a post just like this one, I’ve rolled my eyes so hard that I could almost see what the inside of my head looks like. I’m not here to condescendingly wag a finger in your virtual face while harping at you to get off the couch. If getting exercise is going to help you in any way, you’ll have to want to do it.

Getting exercise can be exciting, and doesn’t have to involve tedious, repetitive routines that somewhat remind you of the horror that was your 7th grade gym class, shudders. The thought itself aggravates my asthma… Has anyone seen my inhaler? Anyways, here’s a list of my personal favourites that will keep you coming back for more!

Second major benefit of slow cookers? The time you will save. So yes, I am in fact telling you that you can eat real dinners AND immediately indulge in that much needed binge session of Netflix as soon as you arrive home. Most slow cooker recipes need about 6-8 hours to cook. How oddly convenient it is that this is the average length of your work day! When you’re making your breakfast, all you have to do is open up some packages, dump the contents in the slow cooker, and then turn it on. Think you can handle it? Of course you can! Slow cookers are one of those rare life hacks that aren’t actually too good to be true, even though it sounds like it is. You might even pleasantly surprise yourself when you walk in the door after a long day because you forgot that you started dinner for yourself before you left in the morning. Who doesn’t love surprises!

Slow cookers are basically the epitome of comfort food. You might be a grown adult, but this doesn’t mean you don’t crave that warm, fuzzy feeling. Especially when your cat is giving you the cold shoulder, it’s freezing outside, and Fluffy is making it worse by neglecting to snuggle and stealing your socks. Your slow cooker will always be there to comfort you.

So, what kind of things can you make? Believe me when I say pretty much anything you can think of: scour Pinterest and you will find literally thousands of options. For example, most people (especially me) think of chilli, which can be prepared in about a million different ways, including vegetarian and vegan versions. Not a chilli person? Oh well, more for me! Despite my judging you for not embracing the deliciousness that is chilli, I’m still going to provide you with other ideas since they’re delicious too. Want to step up your KD game? You can make a slow-cooked, excessively-cheesy mac ’n cheese. Or, how about enchiladas, coconut quinoa curry, and even lo mein? Any style of dish you want, I guaruntee you it can be done better in the crockpot. You can even satisfy that pesky sweet tooth of yours! Try this slow cooker apple caramel crumble recipe (I mean, it's the holidays, so why not). These ideas are just a starting point for you. Pinterest is an absolute goldmine for these recipes, to the point where it’s almost overkill. Who am I kidding, there’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to healthy, delicious, and convenient food!

So, go ahead - treat yourself to an early Christmas gift. I promise, it will be much better than that ugly Christmas sweater you were planning to buy… and you’ll use it more than once a year!

Kristen is a nurse living in the GTA. When she isn't busy working in the hospital, she can be found scouring the streets of Toronto for new and delicious eats, style hunting from Kensington Market to Queen Street, or twisting and bending in many of Toronto’s finest group fitness classes. From health and wellness to nightlife and adventure, she’s all about it.

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