Enjoying home cooked meals in spite of hectic lifestyles is possible with a bit of planning and two common household appliances. With an hour reserved for preparation, you can freeze multiple recipes for future homemade crockpot meals.
Besides freezer and kitchen crockpot, you will need to plan ahead for a few other supplies. Be sure you have on hand plenty of freezer bags in gallon-size or larger (based on the recipe size).
You will want to be able to label each bag identifying its contents. New Leaf Wellness recommends using sticky labels large enough to contain the name of the recipe, the date it was prepared, the ingredients, and instructions for cooking.
Once you've cleared your calendar to prepare freezer bag crockpot meals, Crock-Pot Ladies suggests choosing several recipes that can be made at the same time. Meals can be planned for several weeks ahead, as long as you have plenty of freezer space.
There are plenty of recipes available for freeze-ahead crockpot fixin's. Keep it simple with recipes you already enjoy. Avoid complicated concepts that need several steps in the cooking process, unless you have the time to get creative. Have all the ingredients out and ready to go, so bag-filling can be an assembly line process.
As the bags are filled and labeled, squeeze all the extra air out to avoid freezer-burn. Then, place paper towel in between to keep the bags from sticking together. When placing in the freezer, stand them to ensure the center part of the bags will freeze solid. Once the meals are thoroughly frozen, they can be placed on top of each other. These crockpot meals can last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remember to properly rotate and place the oldest bags where they are noticed first.
Ready for cooking? To prevent spoilage, be sure to thaw the meal in the frig. Then, empty the thawed ingredients from the freezer bag into the crockpot, set the timing, and look forward to mealtime and the wonderful aromas.
Here are a few simple recipe ideas that can be bagged and placed in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Sweet and Spicy Chicken
2-1/2 pounds of chicken pieces
2 tsp paprika
2-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1-1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup honey
1-1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Coat chicken pieces with dry ingredients and place in freezer bag. Add remaining ingredients and freeze. To prepare the meal, thaw in frig, then cook on low in the crockpot for 6 to 8 hours until done.
3 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 can green chili seasoned diced tomatoes
1 can drained corn
2 cans drained black beans (or pinto)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients and freeze. To prepare for meal, thaw in frig, and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours until done. Shred chicken breast, and return to the crockpot for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
White Bean, Kale, and Turkey Soup
1 pound of ground turkey
2 cans drained white kidney beans
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion diced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
8 cups chicken broth
Combine all ingredients, EXCEPT chicken broth, in freezer bag and freeze. Within 3 months, thaw in frig, and place contents in crockpot for cooking. At this time, add the 8 cups of chicken broth. Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.
Check out this video for instructions on how to put crockpot freezer meals together.
Nothing Like Home Cooking
Now you are on your way to enjoying some great home-cooked meals without the usual last minute headache of "what are we going to eat, tonight?" Not only is this healthier than restaurant eating, it's less expensive. Share these ideas with others you know who also have to juggle their daylight hours.