Two types of slow cookers on the market are the programmable and non-programmable cookers. Programmable slow cookers don't require attention once the cooker is set up to cook foods, whereas nonprogrammable cookers do require intermittent attention for changing settings during the cooking time.
Programmable slow cookers can be set to cook the food for a set amount of time using the timer. The cooker can be programmed to keep the food warm after the timer runs down, until you are ready to eat. For example, you can set the cooker to cook food on high for four hours. After the cooking time is complete, the cooker will reset to warm. You can be gone for six hours and come home to a cooked meal that is still warm and not overcooked or burnt.
Nonprogrammable cookers can cook foods at one heat level until you manually turn the cooker off or turn the setting to warm. If you leave the house for six hours with the cooker on high, the food may be overcooked or burnt. If you set the cooking time on low, the food may not be completely cooked or ready to eat when you arrive home.
The cost of programmable and nonprogrammable slow cookers ranges from $23 to $70. Programmable units cost more, other features being comparable.
The size of the of the slow cooker informs the types of foods you can prepare in the cooker. Meats can be cooked in a nonprogrammable or programmable slow cooker, but the quantity of meat depends on the size of the cooker. You can make stews, soups and sauces in cookers, but the size of the cooker again will determine how much you can make at one time.