Using a humble slow cooker, Queensland mum Paulene Christie has traded her busy life juggling parenting and full-time work as a psychiatric nurse, to lead half a million passionate online followers.
Managing meals for her husband and three children while on shift work, Paulene started using a slow cooker to prepare meals that would be ready for the family at the end of the day.
In 2012 she started a Facebook group for like-minded people and today Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families has 526,000 members.
The author of a number of slow cooker recipe books, Paulene has just released another in the series Slow Cooker Central aimed specifically at catering for children.
Slow Cooker Central Kids has 200 recipes road-tested by families from the Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families Facebook page and Slow Cooker Central website.
Paulene says she was initially drawn to slow cooking by the convenience.
“Like so many parents I was struggling through those dinner hours every night,” Paulene says.
“Tired kids, and as parents we were exhausted too, with after school activities, homework time, bath time etc, so the lure of having dinner all ready to literally just serve was very appealing to me.
“Once I started, it saved me so much time and money that I was quickly hooked.”
Paulene says she believes the community has grown because other parents agree that it saves time and money.
She says the machines are affordable, and many people already own one.
“It's a classic appliance that has stood the test of time. It saves money on grocery bills as you can cook with cheaper cuts of meat and every day ingredients.
It saves on impulse take away buys at that busy time of night when it's easy to be tempted by convenience.
“And we are showing people that slow cookers are so much more than the traditional soups, stews and silversides.
“We do everything from pasta, to lasagne, to cakes, to international cuisines, to desserts, to baking, to lunchbox snacks and so much more.”