Make sure all ingredients are chilled before preparing the dish. Set the cooking to begin no longer than 2 hours after assembling the chilled ingredients in the crock and setting the timer, but for poultry, no longer than 1 hour later. The hot cooked food should not stand for longer than 2 hours after the cooking time ends. Follow the manufacturer's instructions if your slow cooker includes a timer and/or a "keep warm" setting.
Another alternative for a dish requiring a short cooking time is to cook it the night before, cool for no longer than 2 hours, and refrigerate. Heat it in the microwave the next day.