Monday, June 13, 2016

Dinnertime Revolutionized with Crockpot Freezer Meals

Like most working moms I have always struggled with the 6 o'clock panic of "What's for dinner?" Our family had a list of the "flash in the pan" dinners that could be made quickly and easily.  But this list was growing old and stale.  Since both of my kids are now grown and either in college or working full time we rarely eat dinner at the same time.

While on Facebook one day a friend posted a picture of her kitchen counters full of plastic bags filled with Crockpot recipes.  Her caption read "A day of Crockpot freezer meals done!"  I thought that sounds like a great idea so I began to search the web for recipes.  Listed below are links to some of the ones we have tested and all have turned out great.

Here is the basic idea behind crockpot freezer meals.

  1. You spend a few hours preparing the ingredients for the meals and placing each meal in a freezer bag.
  2. You then freeze the meals for up to 3 months.
  3. When you are ready to cook the meal you take the bag from the freezer and dump the ingredients in the crockpot to cook.
  4. When you get home your dinner is waiting.  Add a simple salad and some vegetables and you are ready to eat.

One reason I love this method is our crockpot meals typically cook 8-10 hours.  I start them when I leave for work and we usually eat round 6:30-7:00 pm so that is a full day of cooking.  With all the ingredients frozen as one large block it takes a while for them to thaw before the cooking begins.

The first time I tried this method my husband and I spent about an hour and a half to prepare 10 meals.  That was about two weeks of meals.  Each morning I would pull a bag from the freezer, grease the crockpot, dump in the contents of the bag and set the timer and temp.  Ta Da! Dinner was done when I walked in the door that evening.

My full freezer from just a few hours of preparation.

Here are a few tips we learned along the way that helped.

  1. All the recipes and sites tell you to freeze the bags flat.  I prefer to freeze them standing upright so they fit in the crockpot without having to thaw them at all.
  2. Cut all the vegetables for all the meals you are preparing and put aside.  Then as you are adding the ingredients for each meal it goes a lot faster.
  3. Buy really good plastic freezer bags.  Trust me you do not want to clean up a mess from a broken bag.
  4. Be sure to check your spices when making your grocery list.  But if you are out of a spice you can usually substitute something similar.  I have done this many times and always had success.
  5. Enjoy the process.  When you are preparing your meal bags the task can seem overwhelming but the reward of dump, cook and eat for the next few weeks is well worth the effort.

Here are the links for some of the recipes I used.  If you do a search for Crockpot Freezer Meals you will come up with hundreds of sites.  Pick out the ones your family will like and give them a try.

Once a Month Freezer Slow Cooker Meals
Thirty Handmade Days 31 Crockpot Freezer Meals
The Krazy Coupon Lady Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

I hope you will give crockpot freezer meals a try.  If you don't want to do a large group of meals at once try putting together just a few at a time.  At least you will have a couple of days without the 6 o'clock dinner panic.

Danna




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