Use ready prepped items to make your crockpot meals even quicker and easier. Think of using frozen vegetables, (considering the water content in your sauce or broth), instant packages of pasta or beans, condensed and packet soups, and sauces. Meats don’t all have to be roasts or joints, and even when these are used, it’s important to still check them for doneness as slow cooking can take some bigger pieces of meat a longer time. Great dishes can be made from smaller pieces such as cooked meatballs, chicken pieces or fish and seafood chunks. If less preparation is your goal, look for less work in these ingredients.
Leaving the pot alone is not just a good rule of thumb for ensuring you don’t interrupt the cooking process, but allows you to truly let flavors simmer and … for you to move on to other tasks! Trust your crockpot, and after your first forays into this great addition to your repertoire, the sauces and flavors accompany your dishes will be due to letting the pot work its magic. Stick to the “don’t lift the lid” rule for the first hours of cooking, but nevertheless, towards the end of the cooking time you will want to check the dish for doneness, thorough cooking, and to do a taste test. The end of the cooking process is the best time to add items that take less cooking. Leave dairy products such as cream or some cheese that may curdle for the very end…or after the crockpot is turned off.
Clean up too is easy if you consider lining your crockpot with non-stick foil for some of the recipes that involved baked style choices such as breads, cakes, and other foods that typically stick in oven based pans. Otherwise a good coating of a non-stick cooking spray can mean an easy cleanup for the ceramic portion of any crockpot. Removing the ceramic insert is great for putting away leftovers, or in many cases, bringing a dish right to the table!