Cooking with a crockpot is an easy way to have homemade meals any evening, especially if you’re pressed for time between work and dinner. Crockpot cooking for two means preparing smaller portions, which can also mean adjusting the time and heat settings so your food doesn’t overcook. Crockpots can be used for anything from appetizers to desserts, so think about your favorite recipes and consider trying them in the slow cooker.
Preparing Smaller Portions
Most slow cooker recipes are intended to serve four to six people, so cooking for two usually requires recipe adjustments. Generally, you can just cut a recipe in half, but be careful about quantities of spices and texture ingredients like baking powder and eggs. If the recipe already calls for a small amount of spices or herbs (like 1 tsp. oregano) you can probably leave the original amount, even for a smaller recipe. If you reduce spices too much, you’ll end up with bland food. For crockpot cakes or other baked goods, don’t reduce the recipe or you’ll end up with strange textures. Instead, plan on sharing or freezing part of your dessert.
Remember that smaller portions also cook faster. It helps to be around the house the first time you try a new recipe so you can check its progress, but this isn’t always possible. For two-person meals, plan to reduce the heat or cooking time, or sometimes both. Cook your food for about three-quarters of the time the larger recipe suggests, and turn down the heat one or two notches to avoid scorching. If you’re going to be at work all day, put the crockpot on a low setting. You can always turn the heat up to finish the meal when you get home, but if your food is burnt or overcooked, there’s not much you can do. Always check meat and seafood for doneness, either with a meat thermometer or by cutting open the thickest piece to make sure the center is cooked.
Another option for two-person cooking is making a larger recipe and freezing leftovers. Extra food can be frozen in individual or two-person portions and thawed at your convenience, saving you even more time.
Trying New Recipes
Crockpots can be used to make so many meals that experimenting with new ideas is half the fun. Sauces, soups and casseroles are standard crockpot meals, but your slow cooker can also make steaks, chicken, lasagna, cakes and cobblers. You can invent your own crockpot recipe by experimenting with ingredients for your favorite meals, or you can use one of the many recipe books and online recipe collections featuring crockpot cooking. Remember that frozen ingredients take longer to cook, and frozen meats shouldn’t be in the crockpot alone (add at least one cup of warm liquid if the meat is cooking by itself). Add any pre-cooked beans, pasta or vegetables at the end of the cooking cycle so they don’t get mushy and fall apart.