Slow Cooker for One or Two

April 29, 2024 | Christine Hradek

slow cooker

I often hear people share that they do not use a slow cooker because they generally cook for one or two and it just makes too much food. If you have thought this way before, I would like to encourage you to rethink if the slow cooker might actually be a useful tool. Bear with me!

I typically cook for one or two and I almost always cook full recipes. My reasoning is that a lot of ingredients come in package sizes designed for four to six and when I try to cook one or two servings I end up with wasted ingredients. Also, I love to cook, but I do not want to have to cook every night. I choose to make multiple servings at a time, and I am careful about how I manage leftovers. I factor leftovers into my meal plan a couple of nights per week and I pack away leftovers in single-serve containers so defrosting and reheating is easy. If I do not want to eat something within four days, I freeze the leftovers and I love having a wide variety of leftover meals in my freezer from my past self’s efforts. A piece of tape on the lid of the container with the date and the name of the dish can help you prioritize eating what has been frozen the longest. I do not stash things in the freezer and forget about them. Each week I take a dish or two out so there is a constant rotation of new things being added.

If this approach sounds possible for you, I encourage you to try some slow cooker recipes. You can save yourself time in the kitchen and make some really delicious meals. Here are some of my favorites!

  • Salsa Verde Chicken is great for tacos, burrito bowls or to top taco salads.
  • Slow Cooker Lentils are a delicious plant-based protein you can add to just about any dish. I like them in rice bowls and quesadillas.
  • Slow Cooker Pork Roast is a delicious citrusy spin on a traditional pork roast and it is great for spring and summer meals.
  • Beef Stew is a crowd pleaser that can be made on the stove or in the slow cooker; check the recipe tips for the slow cooker instructions.

Even if you have a small household, I hope you will give your slow cooker a try!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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