I’ve done it again, friends…and I just HAVE to share! With Back-To-School season upon us, I’m stocking my freezer with plenty of easy dinners that are ready and waiting for me on our busiest evenings. Check out my latest Saturday afternoon project: preparing 6 Healthy Slow Cooker Freezer Meals in Less Than 1 Hour! I promise, it just doesn’t get any easier than this, and I’ve even included a printable shopping list!
Are you familiar with Crock Pot freezer meals? Basically, all you do is toss some RAW ingredients into a large zip-top freezer bag, label it, and stick it in your freezer. When you’re ready to make your dinner, just thaw the bag in the refrigerator overnight and dump the contents into your slow cooker in the morning. Let the Crock Pot do the cooking while you go about your day…then dinner is cooked and ready when your troops are hungry!
For this particular batch of freezer meals, I selected 3 healthy slow cooker recipes that I knew my family would love. When I pull together freezer meal menus, I make a point to choose recipes that use a variety of meats and that offer a nice variety of meals. For instance, you don’t want to end up making 6 chicken dinners (boring!) or 6 different soups.
I printed the recipes and prepared a shopping list based on DOUBLING each recipe. That way I would get two separate dinners with about the same amount of prep time.
You can download a printable PDF of the complete grocery shopping list HERE!
When I returned from the grocery store, I didn’t even bother to put away the food. Instead, I labeled my zip-top freezer bags (with the name of the recipe, plus the cooking time), chopped my veggies, and tossed the appropriate ingredients into each bag. I actually set my timer to see exactly how long it would take me to make all of these dinners and I was VERY pleasantly surprised to see that I was completely finished in 45 minutes (and that included a couple of interruptions from the little ones!). With a few more minutes of clean-up, my kitchen was spotless and my freezer was full in under 1 hour!
Here are the three meals that we will be enjoying in the coming weeks (and remember, I doubled each recipe for maximum efficiency!):
The World’s Best Chicken from Rachel Schultz
Healthified Crock Pot Beef & Broccoli from The Skinny Fork
Skinny Taco Chicken Chili from Skinny Mom
Before you get started, here are a few quick tips:
(1) Label all of your gallon-size freezer bags with the cooking instructions in advance. This way you’ll know how to cook the meal when the time comes — no pulling out the recipe to find the details later on! And take it from me: you want to use high-quality freezer bags here. This is NOT the time to get cheap and risk a rip or tear in your bag!
(2) I like to start with the meat. I set all of my meat out on the counter and place the appropriate amount into each labeled bag. Then I can clean up my mess and not risk cross-contamination with veggies or other ingredients later. Another tip: cooking in bulk batches like this allows you to save money on ingredients because you can buy value packs of meat. When else would you need 16 chicken breasts at one time?! 🙂
(3) Take short-cuts! To decrease prep-time, I like to buy pre-sliced stir-fry beef or minced garlic in a jar. Then it’s just a matter of dumping the ingredients in the bag — with very little time-consuming chopping and slicing on my part!
(4) Use tools that make it even easier to get your ingredients in the bags quickly and easily. I love my flexible cutting boards because I can chop my veggies (or meat, if necessary) and then fold the board and dump the whole thing into a bag. I don’t even have to touch the food or worry about scooping it up with my hands. Mess-free and FAST! Another awesome product? These Hands-Free Bag Holders make it super-easy to dump the ingredients in the bags you go. So smart!
Are you ready to get started? Would you love even more easy crockpot freezer meal ideas? Check out my previous posts: