Hello, Friends! I hope that everyone had a fun and safe Halloween! If you missed my pics from last night, you can see them here. Now my job is convincing my boys that they don't really need to eat candy for 3 meals a day...
It's finally November, which means my third baby boy will be arriving this month! And, as I've mentioned in previous posts, I have been stockpiling some dinners in my big chest freezer to prepare for the impending chaos. I know that once this little guy arrives, I won’t have the time, energy, or desire to prepare dinner for my family each night. But you know what? My husband and my older boys will still expect to eat!
Do you know about Crock Pot Freezer Meals? They’re really just an easy and efficient way to prepare multiple dinners in advance – saving busy parents time and energy when life gets particularly hectic. All of these meals are frozen (before cooking) in large zip-top plastic bags. When you want an easy dinner, just defrost a bag in your refrigerator overnight. The next day, put all of the ingredients in your slow cooker and let the crock pot do the rest. By the end of the day, you will have a delicious supper to serve your family, and very few dishes to wash. Can’t beat that!
The idea behind Crock Pot Freezer Meals is that you spend a couple of hours one day putting together multiple meals that you can enjoy later.
My first mission was to compile a list of family-friendly dinners that everyone would love and that could be prepared in my slow cooker. Aiming for a variety of cuisines and a variety of meats, here’s what I came up with (click on each title for a link to the complete recipe and photos):
- Italian Beef Sandwiches (from Kraft)
- Slow Cooker Sesame Beef (from Six Sisters Stuff) (to make this freezer-friendly, I just placed the beef, oyster sauce, and broth in a plastic bag. I will add the rest of the ingredients at the end of the cooking time)
- Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan (from Chef in Training) (to make this freezer-friendly, I prepared the chicken with the bread crumb coating and placed it in the plastic bag. On the day I cook it, I will add the mozzarella cheese and the marinara sauce on top before cooking)
- Slow Cooker Creamy Salsa Chicken (from My Recipe Magic)
- Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops (from Stockpiling Moms)
- White Chili (from Taste of Home)
- Forgotten Jambalaya (from Taste of Home)
- Slow Cooker Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches (my recipe!)
- Sweet n’ Sour Pork Chops (from Taste of Home)
- Slow Cooker Honey Glazed Ham (my recipe!) (to make this freezer-friendly, I prepared the sauce in advance – including boiling it on the stove – and then poured the sauce into the plastic bag with the ham)
Once my “menu” was set, it was time to put together a shopping list. Of course, you can choose to just make one or two of these recipes at a time. However, if you would prefer to prepare all 10 at once (like I did), you can use my Master Shopping List at the following link: Crock Pot Freezer Meals Master Shopping List
After a trip to the grocery store, it was time to get started! First, I made sure that all of my recipes were easily accessible:
My groceries were all set out on my counter:
This is obviously not a picture of all of my ingredients. Just a quick snapshot of some of the canned goods.
Once I had all of my ingredients out, I made a separate little pile for each of my 10 recipes:
Each pile included the correct amount of seasonings and condiments.
I also labeled a large zip-top freezer bag for each meal, complete with cooking and assembly instructions.
Then it was time to chop my fresh produce for each recipe.
Once the veggies, canned goods, seasonings, and condiments were all in their appropriate piles, I just had to add the meat to each meal and place all of the ingredients together in the correctly labeled bags.
This entire process (from unpacking the groceries to preparing the ingredients and finally sanitizing my kitchen afterwards) took me about 2 hours. Not my idea of a good time, but it sure is efficient considering the fact that I got 10 meals out of the effort!
Once all of my raw ingredients were prepared, I just laid the bags flat in my freezer…knowing that I will enjoy them at a later date!
Looking for other freezer-friendly meals? Check out these favorites:
Joining the What's Shakin' Link Party!
Linking up to Totally Posted Tuesday!
Joining the Show Me What Ya Got link party!
Joining the Life Created Link Party!
Sharing on Live, Laugh, Linky Thursday!
Linking up to Family Fridays!
Sharing at the What's Shakin' Link Party!