This post was inspired by a good friend of ours who is single and wants to cook more food at home, but he finds himself worn down by the combination of long hours at a Wall Street job and a brutal commute to and from the office. As a result, he tends to find himself stuck picking up take-out dinners most nights each week.
But he bought a crockpot recently--and he's actually happily using it. Happily, because it solves one of the pernicious problems of being a single professional: it pretty much sucks to cook just for yourself.
Think about it: you just finished a long day at the office, then finished a long commute home. And now you have to make dinner from scratch? If you keep a sleep/wake schedule like many of my colleagues, you'll be sitting down for your homemade meal, oh, about fifteen minutes after it's time to go to bed.
Worse, the food preparation time is borne 100% by you. Sure, it’s great to be king when you have somebody to delegate prep work to. But what fun is it to delegate work to yourself?
No wonder take-out can seem so tantalizing when you’re a bachelor or bachelorette.
Which brings me back to the core concept that a crockpot is one of those rare cooking tools that is spectacularly worth owning, especially when you're cooking for one. Think of the cooking logistical problems that are solved by the crockpot:
1) It's easy to make meals in bulk that can be eaten all week long.
2) Sure there's some prep work, but it's usually pretty simple: cut a bunch of stuff up and chuck it in the pot. Set the dial and forget about it for the rest of the day.
3) Instead of having to cook after you get home from work, you can put the food in the crockpot in the morning before you leave. Set the dial on low. When you get home ten or eleven hours later, a healthy and inexpensive dinner is ready and waiting for you.
3) You can be a total novice cook and still make great meals. Crockpot recipes are generally easy and foolproof. And if you have a knack for cooking (but you just don't know it yet) this can be your entry point into more serious cooking down the road.
4) Finally, how much time does it take to microwave a dinner you've already cooked the other day? Sure, you might have to invest a bit of extra time making the recipe initially. But if you can microwave the leftovers a couple of more times that week, the aggregate time (and money for that matter) you've spent feeding yourself over three or four meals will be much less than making three or four separate daily trips to pick up take-out on your way home from work.
The crockpot isn't just for June Cleaver any more. It's the perfect tool for anybody--especially single people--who would like to look forward to a delicious, hot, home-cooked meal after a long day at the office.
I've put below a few helpful links, including a link to the exact crockpot model we have at home (at Amazon.com). Also see below for a post I wrote a few months ago that contains an extended list of crockpot recipe resources.
Crockpot Recipes and Cooking Sites
The Crockpot: How I Admitted I Was Wrong in a Cooking Debate