Using a slow cooker can certainly make dinnertime easy, even on the busiest of nights. It’s a great way to tender cook lean meats and vegetables. Just like cooking food in an oven, however, it’s important to handle food safety to help prevent foodborne illness. Thaw meat before putting it in the oven (remember to always thaw in the refrigerator, never on the counter!).
Preparing meat and veggies the night before is a great time saver in the morning; be sure to store them separately in the refrigerator. Some slow cookers are larger than others, so review the instruction booklet to ensure that the food you are adding is the appropriate size for the pan. If you have large pieces of meat, consider cutting them into smaller chunks to make sure they cook all the way through. Keep the lid in place at all times during cooking.
If your home experiences a power outage while you are away, it’s not safe to serve the food, even if it appears done. If you happen to be home when the power goes out, remove the food from the slow cooker and cook it immediately in a gas stove or a grill. Meat should reach a minimum internal temperature of 160°F, so make sure to have your meat thermometer handy!
Finally, if you have leftovers, don’t chill them in the slow cooker pan. They should be transferred to a shallow, covered container to cool in the refrigerator. Leftovers need to be in the fridge within two hours of the end of cooking.
Try out some of my favorite slow cooker recipes here!
Slow Cooker Three Bean Chili
Crock Pot "Baked" Potatoes