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Eating healthily can be expensive, but using a slow cooker is an effective way to bring down the cost. My diet mainly consists of meat and vegetables, and when you're eating chicken breasts and lean mince for five meals a day, it soon adds up. But a bit of research gave me a thought - if I could use a slow cooker to cook cheaper, tougher cuts of meat, I could make them tender and tasty for meals that cost a fraction of the price - and the effort.
I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with meals cooked for me by people using a slow cooker so I was dubious to give it a go, but I am so glad I did. For my first meal I picked up some braising steak from Sainsbury's in the reduced aisle - those yellow stickers are both my weakness and my saviour - £3 for 800g of meat. Bargain!
Usually I would be put off by the amount of fat on the meat, - if I fried this straight up I would have been chewing away at it for weeks! But into the slow cooker it went et voila, it practically fell apart after five hours of gently simmering away. The slow cooking seems to melt the fat away and it really gives the flavours time to develop.
Despite it being the August bank holiday weekend, I feel like the cold weather is starting to settle in already and nothing gives me more pleasure in the autumn and winter than cooking up hearty meals. Enjoying a rare Sunday afternoon off, Steve and I drew the curtains, got into our PJs and enjoyed this chilli in front of the television. Turning the beef into a chilli - usually cooked with mince - was inspired by an amazing buffalo chilli we tried at Somersault festival, and it made a great alternative. Tender meat, melt-in-your-mouth chunks of garlic and the 'pazazz' of fiery chillis, this is something I'll definitely be making as the nights draw in.
I have a feeling this slow cooker will be getting a lot of use over the next few months, so stay tuned for more recipes to help improve your health and bring down your food bills!
Chunky, slow cooked beef chilli
800g braising beef steak
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans (drained)
1 white onion
½ red onion
4 cloves garlic
½ red chilli (or more, if you like it hot!)
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
- Chop the onions finely. Peel the garlic and chop each clove into three or four chunks
- Chop the steak roughly into large chunks
- Finely chop the red chilli into small pieces
- Add all of the ingredients - be generous with the salt and pepper - into the slow cooker
- Cook on a low heat for approx five hours. Serve with rice or vegetables - and you can always freeze it or keep it in the fridge for a couple of days to make it go further! Simple, easy, and oh-so-tasty.