Slow Cookers: the student alternative to the air fryer


Megan Stoker (she/her) and Katy Leverett (she/her) discuss the benefits of slow cookers for students

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Image by Katherine Chase- Unsplash

By Katy Leverett and Megan Stoker

As we know, renting is getting pretty expensive, and as energy costs soar in this coming year it’s becoming increasingly important to cut down costs where we can. Sometimes an investment can reward us tenfold, especially if it means we can turn off the oven and save just that bit more on our energy bills. For some, that may be a blender, soup maker or air fryer, but there is one appliance that for us is the clear champion for students: the slow cooker. Admittedly, it may seem like a strange purchase, but we’re absolutely loving it. It’s super easy for meal prepping as you can leave it on all day whilst at university, so if you have a busy schedule you don’t have to eat a nutritionally deficient meal from the Co-op. They’re also incredibly energy efficient, meaning that the energy bill will be that little bit less. Slow cookers can be used to bulk cook meals, so you can eat one portion and freeze the rest. Most slow cookers range in prices from £15 upwards and can be found in varying sizes depending on your needs. - for an appliance, they are also fairly inexpensive.

Unlike other kitchen appliances, the slow cooker does not limit you to just cooking one type of food. You can make curries, stew, soup, rice and even cakes! If you struggle to find the time to cook, but want the experience of a home-cooked meal, then the slow cooker is definitely an investment for you: for now and beyond university. Below, we’ve listed some of our favourite recipes we’ve tried and tested in our own slow cookers, which we’ve found incredibly cost-efficient, time efficient, and most importantly, delicious.

BBQ shredded chicken
This is such a versatile thing to make because it can be incorporated into multiple dishes, a sandwich, a wrap, or having a salad or veggies on the side with a jacket potato. And it has 4 basic ingredients (but this doesn’t stop you from being a little creative!).


  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 5 tbsp of BBQ sauce (but it’s up to you how much you use as long as it’s not dry)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves (diced)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper (optional)
  • and 1 tsp of brown sugar (optional)


  1. Chop onions into thin strips and sautée until golden. Add this to the pot alongside the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients and evenly coat the chicken. Add a splash of water if too thick, but be wary because slow cookers retain heat and steam.
  3. Turn the slow cooker to the high setting and cook for a minimum of 2 ½ hours. The chicken is fully cooked around this time. It’ll be soft and easy to shred. If you’re making this in the morning, cooking on low until your return is also an option.

Beef Stew
Beef stew is a fab way of keeping warm in the winter and meal prepping. For ease and affordability, a packet seasoning works fabulously. More so, you can use any legumes you want to clear out the fridge. A top tip is to not put in potatoes if you’re going to freeze some portions for later because it makes them oddly gelatinous. Basic ingredients to just chuck in the pot for four portions are:


  • 1 ½ onion
  • 2 carrots
  • ¼ cabbage
  • A generous handful of peas
  • ¼ Swede or large turnip
  • 250g of lean beef (seal in a pan before adding)


  1. Leave in the slow cooker for around 5 hours to tenderise the meat and then enjoy with some mashed potatoes or roasties! You could change this up and use sausages or chicken instead if you don’t like beef.

5 Bean Chilli
This recipe is super flavourful and equally as easy to make for around 6 decent portions!


  • 2 cans of mixed beans (drain)
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cans of tomatoes
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

You can also use a chilli spice packet, but it’s also super easy to make your own!
For example: 2 tsps cumin, 2 tsps smoked paprika, 1 tsps of chilli flakes (or add for desired spice levels).

Chunky veg soup
This recipe is vegan-friendly: just put in any vegetables you have with some veg stock, and seasoning of your choice into the pot and voilà! You can use potatoes for this recipe to make it more satiating, then serve with buttered bread - or even in the last 20 minutes, add a couple of tablespoons of parboiled or pre-cooked rice to warm it in the soup. This isn’t a recipe I would freeze.

Ingredients I like to use

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 small potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1vegetable stock cube