The best foods for cooking in a slow cooker are the less expensive cuts of meat, including chuck roasts, shanks, ribs and shoulders. Cuts that are more expensive dry out in the long, slow-cooking process. Choice and standard cuts are a better value for slow cooking, reports FamilyEducation.
The least expensive cuts are the most active muscles of the animal and are often tough due to collagen. Cooking meats at the low temperature of a slow cooker gives a chance for the collagen to convert to gelatin, even when using the high-heat setting.
Frozen vegetables are a poor choice for the slow cooker. They keep the temperature in the danger zone for growing bacteria too long. Fresh or canned vegetables allow the pot to increase the temperature to the safety zone quickly and keep food safe.
When using a slow cooker, browning the meat first offers several advantages. Browning improves the flavor for all cuts of meat by caramelizing sugars in the outer tissues. For ground meat products, browning allows the cook to drain the excess fat from the product. To brown meats, the cook places them in a skillet on the stovetop. Larger cuts are easy to brown by placing them on a foil-covered broiler pan. Transferring any juices that form during browning to the pot, after removing the fat, enhances the flavor of slow-cooker meals.