I own 3 different crockpots:
We are a family of 4-2 adults & 2 teenagers.
One thing to remember when cooking with a crockpot, leave some head space and do not fill it all the way to the top. Most users manuals recommend filling 3/4 of the way full.
It cooks more evenly and doesn't take as long to start cooking.
No matter what I cook in mine-Soups, beans, pasta sauce, etc. I *always* have plenty for leftovers or to freeze some for later.
Once you buy one and cook in it a couple of times to get the hang of it, you will come to love it.
I use one of my 3 crockpots about 2-3 times per week and sometimes I will have all of them going at one time, with different items.
I try to have at least one bean cooking day per month, where I cook 3 different types of beans and then I will freeze them to use later on in recipes.
If you do this, turn the beans off while they are still a little undercooked, if you plan to freeze them.
That way they won't get mushy after you've added them to your other recipes.
No rice cooker, I cook my own on top of the stove and it turns out good every time.
The things that I've noticed with cooking rice:
1 part rice to 2 parts water
Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and once you reduce the heat, do not stir
Cover with a lid
I shake my saucepan, while holding the lid on, while cooking instead of stirring
Let cook for around 12-15 minutes (This is for either white/jasmine rice)
I can tell if my rice is done, by taking a butter knife and inserting it into the rice, if the bottom of the pan is dry and a little sticky, then it's done (Yes, this is my own method, but it works every time for me)
Remove the lid from the pan and leave on the burner for another 5 minutes
DO NOT STIR
Take your butter knife and run it through and around the rice to "fluff" it.
Do not replace the lid for about 10 minutes after done, this allows the rice to dry out just a bit without having to fluff it too much
Before serving, take your butter knife again and stir & "fluff" well
Then your ready to serve
Yes, this sound like alot of work, but if you do it once, you will realize how simple & quick it is
I cook rice on average about twice a week.
I have only heard wonderful things about the Zojirushi rice cookers, but I cannot justify spending that kind of money on one?
But if rice is something that you eat alot of and can afford a Zojirushi, then I would definately think it would be worth it.
Let us know what you end up purchasing and how you like your new toys!