Slow Cooker Freezer Meals to Simplify Your Life

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Every day at around 4 p.m., my husband and I have the same conversation, usually via text message. We discuss two things: who is going to pick up the kids from after school care, and what we are going to eat for dinner. The second of those topics can be a source of more than a little stress for me.

Between shuttling everyone home, lugging everything into the house (So. Much. Stuff!), and getting settled into our early-evening routines, there’s not much time for my husband or I to devote to preparing a home cooked meal. For several years now, slow cooker freezer meals have been my mealtime heroes. By spending an hour or two on the weekend in the kitchen, I can stuff my freezer with five (or more!) meals that are easy and delicious. 

The Method Behind the Meal Prep

Over the years, I have searched for the simplest, make-ahead slow cooker freezer meals. These recipes are the ultimate in convenience each makes a gallon-size bag of ingredients, which you can freeze until you need them. When you’re ready to cook, thaw your chosen bag in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then, dump the entire thing into the slow cooker and cook on low for most of the day. When you get home from work or school, you’ll have a hot meal waiting, with minimal additional work. 

None of these recipes needs to be made ahead you can pick any one of them and make it immediately. But they all are suited very well to freezing in advance, which means that you’ll have them on hand when you need them. And, they are also easily doubled or tripled, depending on how many meals you want to make for your freezer. All you need to do is plan ahead which one you’re going to make, so that you can thaw it out the day before.

It only took me an hour to turn all of these ingredients into nine freezer meals!

When you are ready to meal prep, gather all of your ingredients, some gallon-size, zip-top freezer bags, a permanent marker, and a container you can use to prop up your bags while you fill them. I’ve found that a Pyrex 4-cup measuring cup works well for this, but just use whatever you have on hand. Use the marker to write the date, title of the recipe, and cooking instructions on each bag. Chop up your meat and veggies all at once as required by the recipes.

Below, I’ve included instructions for what to put in the bags, and what to write on the outside. Fill each bag as instructed, and squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing it up. I like to squish around the ingredients inside a little, so they are mixed up, but this probably isn’t necessary. When you are done, lay the bags flat in your freezer (this makes them quicker to thaw later). 

Using a measuring cup helps keep the bag from spilling while I’m filling it.

Finally, I find it helps me to keep a list of the meals in my freezer, so I can cross them off as I use them. That way I don’t end up forgetting to use them, and I don’t run out unexpectedly!

The Recipes

Asian Beef and Noodles

Put the following into a gallon-size freezer bag:

  • 16 oz. frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 2 1/2 lbs cubed beef stew meat
  • 12 oz bottle of stir fry sauce 
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Instructions:

Thaw bag for 24 hours. Dump all into slow cooker with 1/2 cup water, and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. At end of cook time, add NOODLES ONLY from two packages of ramen noodles, and 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Cook 10-20 more minutes until noodles are soft. Serve hot.

Beef with Mushrooms

In bag, place:

  • 3 lb cubed beef stew meat
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 packet onion soup mix

Instructions:

Thaw bag for 24 hours. Dump all into slow cooker and cook 10 hours on LOW. Serve over rice or noodles.

Chile Colorado Burritos

In bag, place:

  • 2 lb cubed beef stew meat
  • 19 oz can enchilada sauce
  • 2 beef bullion cubes

Instructions:

Thaw bag for 24 hours. Cook on LOW 10 hours. Fill burrito-size tortillas with refried beans, meat, and cheese. Roll up and put in oven-safe dish, topped with enchilada sauce from the pot. Top with additional cheese and broil 2-3 minutes or until bubbly.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

In bag, place:

  • 1 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 8 oz Catalina dressing
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce 

Instructions:

Thaw bag for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over rice.

Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

In bag, place:

  • 1-2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 1 small onion sliced into strips

Instructions:

Thaw bag for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Serve chicken topped with peppers and onions on a bun topped with parmesan cheese and BBQ sauce of your choice.

Chicken Taco Filling

In bag, place:

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 packet taco seasoning of your choice
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small can diced green chiles (optional)

Instructions:

Thaw bag for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Shred chicken and mix back into pot. Use as taco filling, on salads, over rice, or in quesadillas.

 

I hope these recipes help make your life a little easier I know I feel a lot better when I have a few bags in my freezer!

Do you make freezer meals?
What are your favorite recipes to make ahead?

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