I cannot use my slow cooker as designed, as I try to cook for my elderly parents. They do not rise before 11a.m., the kitchen is located upstairs with them, so they will hear or feel everything-and waking them at 8a.m. is NOT what I want. I end up preparing a lot of their food AFTER I eat brunch so I am forced to use the high setting.

And then, if I turn my back for a moment to do something else, they take the lid off! Apparently, it just had to be stirred - so I lose a good 1/2 hr. right there - each time! So really, it only slow cooks a couple of hours, in reality.

What can I do the able to use the slow cooker as I want?

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    Can you help us figure out specifically what would help you here in a culinary sense? We're very sympathetic to your living/kitchen situation, but it's going to be hard for us to help a whole lot with that side of things. – Cascabel May 21 '17 at 16:31
  • what would help specifically is how to use a slow cooker [that is supposed to be used on low and slow] when I only have 5 hours at best- – calvin May 21 '17 at 16:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about cooking. Rather, it's about finding a solution to others' interference with a cooking process. – Cindy Jun 7 '17 at 12:21

Five hours is still a pretty long time for low and slow. Many recipes will work within that time without modification.

For ones that won't, the best way to cut time off is to heat things through in a pot on the stove first. Slow cookers are pretty good at the low and slow part, but that means they're really slow at getting to the point where they're actually cooking. Depending on your recipe, you may be able to skip right past a couple hours of initial heating by bringing things to a simmer/boil before dumping in.

Also, don't worry too much about the lid getting taken off. If it's left off, yeah, that's not great, but if it's just opened to stir and it's full of food/liquid, the temperature is not going to decrease that much.

If after all that, it's still not enough, I'd look to suggestions like those in Kate's answer - sidestep your timing constraints by prepping the night before and finding a better place for the slow cooker so you can start it earlier and avoid the lid getting opened. If you can get a small fridge outside the kitchen, you really could do it all without ever going into the kitchen in the morning.

  • pre-prep, and a mini fridge sounds good-maybe a dumbwaiter? to take it upstairs? maybe use their stair chair? never would have thought of the mini fridge. great answers. it cut me off when I tried to thank Kate. the slow cooker is heavy for me to carry anymore, but I can sure make a rolling cart easy enough. sure glad the first thing I did when I moved back in was to eliminate the stairs. building that wood elevator is the best thing I ever did. again, thanks for your answers. – calvin May 22 '17 at 15:26

My suggestion is that you do two things:

  • move the slow cooker out of the kitchen to somewhere they do not normally go, such as your room
  • do the noisy prep (such as vegetable chopping) the night before, keeping the prepped food in the fridge, possibly in a little water, until the morning.

At 8am, slip quietly into the kitchen and retrieve the meat and veg. Put them in the slow cooker in your room and leave it there. At 4pm or whenever they are going to eat, use oven gloves to carefully bring it into the kitchen and finish your prep. This approach will give you longer overall slow-cooker time, since you don't need to wait until noon, and it will be undisturbed time too.

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    that will work! I have a mini fridge downstairs, by me. as for taking it up – calvin May 22 '17 at 15:08

Put up a sign next to the slow cooker to not open it (explain that there will be a spoilage risk, or risk of damaging this model slow cooker)..

If that doesn't help, secure the slow cooker lid with something that is inconvenient to undo - rubber bands, clothespins, cable ties, a bicycle lock, F clamps... and find an explanation (maybe something about overboiling stuff driving the lid off...)...

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    that does not work. their house, their rules and their stuff. they know best! I am just the help-I know nothing! and with their dementia progressing, I am....S.O.L.. nice try-wish you were here to help!, but I would not wish this situation on my worst enemy-well, maybe the WORST. – calvin May 22 '17 at 15:35

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