Easy Freezer Meals for the Crock Pot
Crock pots, otherwise known as slow cookers, cook food slowly over the course of a day. They are an easy labor saving appliance that should be in every kitchen. If you are like me, and don't always plan your meals ahead of time, then a crock pot is for you. The only problem with this is you may not always have the ingredients on hand the morning you want to use the crock pot. To get around this, just freeze some meals ahead of time. Freezing meals for slow cookers is the perfect way to ensure you always have a home cooked meal ready for you when you come home.
Frozen crock pot meals are budget-friendly and easy to assemble. More inexpensive cuts of meat work well in these recipes because of the long cooking time. You can also take advantage of grocery store sales for some of the items.
With just a little organization and preparation, you'll have delicious home cooked meals no matter how busy you are!
Before you assemble
You'll need a few things before you start assembling your freezer meals:
- Heavy duty freezer bags - Gallon size
- Permanent marker
- Large slow cooker (at least 5 quarts, but I recommend 6 quarts)
- Time - It takes a while to assemble the meals so you'll need to allot a couple of hours. It took me 1 1/2 hours to assemble these meals (not including shopping time).
I usually prepare 5 different meals to freeze at one time. For my small family of 3, we can get 10 dinners and a couple of lunches out of them.
The following 5 recipes are my favorites, but there are many other crock pot recipes that would work well too. Try freezing your favorites.
Not everything freezes well
Having done this method for a while, there are few vegetables that don't do so well with this freezer method. They seem to absorb the sauce and it ruins their taste and texture.
- Carrots - tough and chewy
- Potatoes - grainy and soft
- Pineapple - chewy
Grocery list for these 5 recipes
Grocery list for these 5 freezer meals.
- 6 pounds of chicken thighs/legs
- 5 - 6 chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 pounds pork roast
- 6 - 8 italian sausages
- 1 bottle barbecue sauce
- 1 can cranberry sauce
- 1 can corn
- 1 can black beans
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 2 large onions
- 2 large tomatoes
- 3 peppers
- 6 gloves garlic or 1 jar minced garlic
- 1 jar red salsa or picante sauce
- 1 jar green salsa or picante sauce
- Dry onion soup mix
- Italian seasoning
- Chicken broth
- Worcestershire sauce
- Yellow mustard
Assembling and using the freezer meals
Assembling these freezer meals is simple. Just follow these easy steps.
- Make sure you have a large clean work surface.
- Lay out all of the ingredients.
- Label the freezer bags and lay them out.
- Chop all of the vegetables. Measure out and place in the appropriate bags.
- Open all cans (drain if necessary) and place in the appropriate bags.
- Prepare the meat as directed and place in appropriate bags. Make sure to keep hands clean after handling all food.
- If the recipe has liquids, follow recipe directions and then add to the appropriate bags.
- Add the spices into each bag as directed.
- Seal the bags and gently roll them around to mix the ingredients.
- Lay the bags flat on a baking sheet and freeze. Once they are completely frozen they can be removed from the baking sheet and tucked away in your freezer. Freezing them flat allows for easier storage and quicker defrosting.
- When you are ready to use one of your meals, take it out 1 to 2 days ahead of time and defrost in the refrigerator. Make sure to defrost on a tray in case the bag leaks. To avoid spoilage, never defrost on the kitchen counter.
The following five crock pot recipes are easy to assemble, easy to freeze, and delicious. If you need smaller portions, all of these recipes can be divided into 2 bags.
This recipe is perfect for more inexpensive cuts of chicken, like the legs or thighs, however any part of the chicken can be used. For a healthier version, remove the chicken skin.
- 3 pounds chicken pieces
- 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the chicken. Put the chicken in a freezer bag. Pour the mixture into the bag and seal it. When ready to cook, place the thawed ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 4 - 5 hours on low.
Serving suggestions: Delicious with mashed potatoes and a vegetable or a side salad.
When you are in the mood for Mexican, this recipe is perfect.
- 5 - 6 chicken breasts
- 1 - 15 1/4 oz can corn, drained
- 1 - 15 1/4 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 - 16 oz. jar salsa (whatever style you prefer)
In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the chicken. Put the chicken in a freezer bag. Pour the mixture into the bag and seal it. When ready to cook, put the thawed contents of the freezer bag in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. When done, take 2 forks and shred the chicken and mix all together.
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with rice or tortilla chips. Also good with sour cream and taco sauce.
Salsa Verde Pork
Another south of the border favorite in our house, this recipe is great on cold winter nights.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds pork, cubed
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 - 16 oz jar salsa verde
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Pour into a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to cook, pour thawed contents into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.
Serving suggestions: Serve with rice.
Sausage and Peppers
Great for a party or the big football game, this recipe is fantastic!
- 6 - 8 Italian sausages
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 - 15 1/4 oz cans diced tomatoes, do not drain
- 2 tbs italian seasoning
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
Place all of the ingredients into a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to cook, place the thawed ingredients in a slow cooker on low heat for 6 hours.
Serving suggestions: Serve over rice or noodles and add some cheese. Crusty bread or a side salad also goes nicely with this.
Another easy chicken recipe, you'll love the sweet and sour tang of this dish.
- 3 lbs chicken thighs or legs, skinned (chicken breasts can also be used)
- 1 can whole cranberry sauce
- 1 envelope onion soup mix
In a bowl mix together the cranberry sauce and the onion soup mix. Place chicken in the freezer bag and pour cranberry mixture on top. When ready to use, thaw and place contents of freezer bag into crock pot and cook on low heat for 5 - 6 hours.
Serving Suggestions: Serve over a bed of rice. Green beans are perfect with this dish.
Freezer crock pot meals take the pressure off!
When schedules are hectic and family members are running here and there, just pull one of these frozen meals out of your freezer, thaw it for a couple of days, and put it in the slow cooker before you go off to your busy day. You and your family will come home to a delicious home cooked meal every time.
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© 2012 Claudia Mitchell