11 Oct 5 Slow-cooker Tips for Better Plan Ahead Dinners
The best part of using a slow-cooker or crockpot is the simplicity. Preparing your ingredients, adding them to the slow-cooker and pressing Start, is what brings the appeal. But the difference between a good meal and a great meal can be as easy as these 5 easy slow-cooker tips.
- Use the Right Size
Slow cookers are available in a range of sizes, from 1 quart to 8 1/2 quarts. Use the size cooker recommended in your recipe. Purchasing a slow-cooker around the 5- to the 6-quart range can typically support most recipes. Some crockpots offer different inserts to accommodate different size requirements.
- Don’t Overfill Your Slow Cooker
To make sure your meal is finished in the listed cook time, don’t overfill your slow cooker. Most manufacturers recommend filling them no more than two-thirds full, but it can differ among brands, so make sure to refer to the owner’s manual.
- Keep a Lid on It
Resist the urge to take the lid off for a quick peek or stir. Opening the lid lets heat escape and slows the cooking process. Only open it 30 to 45 minutes before the end of the scheduled cook time. Some slow-cookers can even be purchased with a stirring attachment. This can be a great feature when making soups and stews.
- Plan Your Meals Ahead
Slow-cookers make dinner time super easy, but there is a little prep needed.
- The night before, make sure to trim the meat, chop any vegetables, measure out dry ingredients and prepare any sauce. Make sure to refrigerate the components in separate containers.
- In the morning: Add the ingredients to the slow-cooker according to the recipe; reheat any sauce to a simmer before adding. It is recommended to not add frozen ingredients to the slow-cooker.
- Check out this crockpot meal planner and recipes.
- Make Sure You Have the Best Crock Pot
If your slow-cooker is 20-year-old, it’s probably a basic cooker without an automatic timer. It may still work great, so use that for keeping dishes warm when you are close by to monitor it. A programmable slow-cooker will cook your meal for a scheduled amount of time and then switch to a warming setting. This option will keep the food at a safe temperature until you’re ready to eat.
Follow these 5 simple tips and you will become an expert with your crockpot.