Do you find yourself cooking for two and getting frustrated that recipes don’t cook up the same? Below are some tips about downsizing your crock pot while you are cooking for two using a slow cooker that might help you solve some issues.
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Tips for Slow Cooking for Two
Slow cookers are great for making yummy dishes but a lot of times those recipes make A LOT of food. So, oftentimes folks try to reduce recipes a bit so they don’t have to eat on the same meal for days.
However, when you go to make those changes in a slow cooker you can run into trouble because slow cookers aren’t picky about a lot of things, but crock size is something that you need to pay attention to.
It Might Be Time to Downsize
If you have a 6 or 8 quart slow cooker that you have had for years while cooking for your family, it might be time to downsize.
If you try to make meals for two in your large crock pot, it will likely cook those meals too fast and too hot.
Crock pots work best at two-thirds to three-fourths full. At a minimum, your slow cooker should be at least half full to cook evenly. Anything less than that will mess with cooking times and temps significantly. And, that will impact texture, taste and overall enjoyment of those tried and true meals you love.
With that in mind, when you start slow cooking for two, it might be time to down size your slow cooker from 6- 8 quarts to 2-3 quarts or 4 quarts maximum.
Slow Cooker Downsizing Options
Now before you throw out that old slow cooker, you might consider some of your options. There are a few ways you can go about reducing your slow cooker without throwing that baby out with the bathwater ;).
Heat-Safe Glass Bowls
One option you can use are heat-safe glass bowls inside your 6-8 quart slow cooker. You simply place about a cup of water in your crock and then place your bowl inside your crock. Then you can put your ingredients in the bowl and cook as you normally would.
- I don’t have to invest in another slow cooker when I have a perfectly good one.
- The heat-safe glass bowls can be used for other uses in the kitchen when I am not slow cooking. They make good mixing and serving bowls. Dual purpose means I can save space.
- These bowls come with lids which makes leftover storage or general food storage another option for them. They are also microwave safe, so that is another plus for reheating leftovers.
- Slow cooker clean up is easy. The crock does not get dirty and the bowl can be tossed in the dishwasher. There is also less stuck on food, because the dish is not overcooking.
- Cooking times may be extended using this method.
- Glass is breakable and not easy to handle sometimes.
- Hot glass will need to cool down before I can move it out of the crock.
- Extreme temperature changes should be avoided, so there will have to be a cool down period from the crock to the fridge if I want to use the bowl for storage.
- Cooking times may take longer using this method.
Alternative to Glass Bowls: I have used metal bread pans in my slow cookers and had similar results to glass bowls. However, I have found bread pans do not always fit under the lid of my slow cooker so I have not included them as an option.
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There are now food-safe silicone inserts made for larger slow cookers to reduce the cooking vessel size that look very promising. I have used their predecessor (full size silicone liners) with a lot of success, so I have purchased some of these to test smaller serving recipes and I will let you know how it goes. However, based on my previous experience with liners, here are the pros and cons of what I expect from these liners. (I will update after some extensive testing).
- Silicone liners are great non-stick cooking surfaces that make for great easy clean up.
- Silicone dividers make cooking multiple dishes or mains and sides together a great option!
- Cooking times might be able to be extended using this method.
- Collapsible liners are great space savers.
- Silicone liners are flimsy and not a solid option for moving around leftovers.
- They are definitely a use-in-crock use only. They really don’t have much of a dual use.
- Concern to be tested: I have had some issues in the past with silicone trapping flavors and smells. I will be testing to make sure flavors do not transfer.
- Concern to be tested: I am not sure how the dividers will perform if not full on both sides if I am only cooking one dish. If it is an issue, it may be an easy fix by putting water in the other divider. Stay tuned for results.
Buy a Smaller Slow Cooker
When thinking about downsizing your slow cooker, purchasing a smaller one is one of the obvious choices if budget allows. 2 and 3 quart models are great for cooking for two and somewhat inexpensive. While 4 quart models help you reduce your cooking vessel but still give you a lot to work with if you end up cooking for more people from time to time.
This is my favorite small size slow cooker.
- Cooking times will most likely align better in smaller crocks designed for smaller recipes.
- Smaller slow cookers take up less space.
- They are just cute :).
- It is an additional expense.
- It is an additional appliance.
Another Possible Solution?
There are also slow cookers on the market that allow you to program them to the amount of food you plan to cook.
- Years ago Hamilton Beach had one that allowed you to choose 2,4 or 6 quarts when cooking but I cannot find it online anymore.
- Crock-Pot has come out with a programmable slow cooker that allows you to tell it how much meat or soup you are cooking and when YOU want to eat it and it is supposed to adjust cooking times to cook it to YOUR schedule. Aunt Lou and I are currently testing these models with smaller recipes and will report back. You can check it out here: Crock-Pot MyTime Technology
- Crock-Pot also has a slow cooker that comes with a 6 quart pot and a divided pot that holds 2.5 quarts on each side. Check it out here: Crock-Pot Choose-a-Crock
I hope this post has helped you find a way to downsize your slow cooker to begin making cooking for two in a crock pot a lot easier.
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