I heard about making crock pot meals ahead of time about a year ago. I thought the woman who came up with this idea was a genius. I also thought that it was so simple it shouldn’t have taken a year of traditional freezer cooking for me to figure this out. I now keep at least one chicken, one pork and one beef crock pot meal on my rotation every month when I set up the types of meals I want to add to our freezer.
The things I love about using both the slow cooker and freezer for making our meals are:
- The quickness of making them ahead of time. Most of the time I only have to chop the veggies and dump in a bag.
- I can use up extras from other recipes. If I have a little bit of chicken, pork or beef I know can add a few more ingredients and have another great meal.
- The managers specials are great ways to find cheap cuts of meat for meals but you have to use them quick. Since crock pot meals are easy to toss in the freezer, you can take full advantage of these discounted quick sales.
The only draw back of having slow cooker freezer meals is you need to be discipline enough to think ahead of your meals. Most of these meals need 4-8 hours in the crock pot and it is best to thaw them out a little in your fridge. I like to plan my meals on Sunday for the entire week. I write them in a few places so everyone knows what we are having for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that week. You don’t have to be THAT specific on your meal planning, but having an idea the night before is needed for these meals.
Most every crock pot recipe that requires you to just dump your ingredients and turn the machine on will work for the freezer. All you do is label your gallon freezer bag, gather your ingredients and dump your ingredients in the bag (instead of the crock pot) according to the directions. Raw meats, sauces, veggies, fruits, whatever – NO COOKING REQUIRED! YAY!!!! Get as much of the air out of your bag as possible and freeze. When you are ready to cook I recommend getting it out the night before and thaw in your fridge, not your counter top. If it is still a little frozen in the morning, that’s ok. You don’t want to chance making your family sick by leaving it out all night and getting too warm too fast. If you forget to thaw in the fridge you can run the package under hot water but it may make your cook times a little off.
I will offer one note about our friend the potato. Some people have blogged about success with freezing raw potatoes for these recipes and having no issues. I am not one of those people. I have tried red, Idaho, Yukon and Bay City, MI potatoes. Each and every time they have come out of the freezer black and mushy. I don’t know what I am doing wrong but I no longer add these to my meals for the freezer. I do, however, cook the meal in the slow cooker and then portion and freeze. As long as I reheat the item on the stove top, my potatoes come out looking as fresh as the day I made the dish.
I hope you are enjoying a peek into how I cook for our busy family. If you ever have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to get the information to you.
Written by Lisa Owen Brown at losingit3milesatatime.blogspot.com