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I love having extra meals in the freezer for a sick day, moving day or for a friend who’s just popped out a baby, had surgery, been attacked by wild apes etc. So when a friend shared the idea of making meals that you just pop from the freezer into the slow cooker I was pretty excited! Over the past year I’ve done this a few times and since people are so curious I am finally writing a post about it! The recipes I’ve chosen are my favorite, tried-and-tested, Man-friendly (it seems like a lot of guys are skeptical of crock pots- perhaps their mothers made too many slop-based meals that all tasted the same), easy, healthy, and delicious crockpot recipes!
In the past I have attempted so many cooking-ahead methods- Once a week cooking, once a month cooking, and all kinds of freezer meals. This method is sooo much easier and quicker because it involves very little cooking! Only 2 of these recipes involve any pre-cooking of the meat- and it is a really quick step!
I would definitely suggest doing this with a friend- it made it so much more fun and quick! We each bought the ingredients to make 2 meals each of 3 different recipes. Then we came together, prepped everything and we each left with 6 different meals that were ready to pop in the freezer, then go to the crockpot when she has her baby, or when I move into my new place in a week!
Check out this beautiful bounty! Here we have- Terryaki Chicken, Cheesy Chili Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, Chili, Sausage and White Bean Soup, and Pulled Pork! For the recipes for the first 3 meals check out the highlighted links- (Note- I replaced ‘Rotel’ in the cheesy chili chicken with salsa- and I have also left out the cheese before and it’s still good!) Now for the next three recipes, allow me to elaborate 😉 I’ll post finished photos as I enjoy the results after I move in October!
These meals are pretty big- they feed my fam of 6 (with some leftovers usually), so you should be using at least a 4 quart crock pot, although I’m sure a 3 quart one would work for most of these recipes. Also, apart from the Cheesy Chili Chicken, these meals happen to be dairy-free and can easily be gluten-free if you chose gluten-free soy and teriyaki sauces.
For my cooking party we doubled each of these recipes to make 2 of each 🙂 Here are the single recipes.
Crock Pot Chili: (stolen from my big bro and semi- adapted)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder (more if you like it spicy)
1 large can (798 mL) diced tomatoes, drained
1 large can of plain tomato sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste (I like my salt!)
Brown the beef in a large pot.
Add onions, peppers, garlic and chili powder.
Cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes and 34 seconds.
Cool a bit and transfer to a large freezer ziplock bag.
To the bag add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans.
Remove as much air as you can and freeze!
Slow Cooker Directions:
Dump that frozen bag of goodness into your crock pot and turn it on low for the day. (Every slow cooker is different, so you might have to adjust cooking times- I usually aim for 8 hrs on low for a frozen meal)
Crock Pot Pulled Pork:
(I’ve tried a million different pulled-pork recipes- from making the bbq sauce from scratch all the way to the root beer method and this is seriously my fave one- and it happens to be easy!)
A 3lb pork roast (pork shoulder is best but you can really use anything- I use whatever is cheapest at the time and always get fine results!)
Half a bottle of Bullseye Chicken and Rib BBQ sauce
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
Stick it all in a freezer bag, remove air, and freeze. Yup.
Dump it in the crock pot, add 1/2 cup water, set it-and forget it! (I grew up looking forward to watching Sunday infomercials- anyone else do that too? LOL!)
Note: with this big chunk of roast I usually let it go for a couple of hours on high, then let it finish off on low.
Serve on buns, or over rice with coleslaw!
Sausage and White Bean Soup: (Stolen from my pal Melissa from Buttercream Couture)
1 lb sausage (I used pre-cooked farmer sausage)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 cans white beans, rinsed and drained (I could only find white kidney beans, but you can use any white bean!)
1 large can (798 mLs) of Italian style diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes with half a tablespoon of italian seasoning)
1 box chicken broth (I use chicken bouillon base then add 4-6 cups of water at cooking time)
3/4 tsp rosemary
Sauté chopped sausage until browned
Add onions, garlic and celery and cook until tender, about 6 minutes and 4 seconds.
Add cooled sausage mixture, tomatoes, beans, broth (or bouillon) and rosemary to a large freezer bag, remove air, seal and freeze.
Dump into slow cooker, add 4-6 cups water if you used bouillon instead of broth) and cook all day!
THAT WAS A LOT OF FOOD!
We each went home with 27 lbs of food to be exact!
Wouldn’t this be great to do with a friend once a month? OR a bunch of gals could get together and do this as a baby shower present for a new mom- Imagine stocking her freezer with 12 meals?!!? This is so much more practical than typical gifts, especially if this is a second (or 5th- hint, hint) baby.
A year and a half ago. Mrs. Buttercream Couture actually came to my house when I was in the hospital with baby#4 and loaded my freezer up with a pile of these meals! It was such a blessing-especially the cookie dough she snuck in there 😉
I am a mama of 5 kiddos, 2 of whom have autism, and one baby who has wonky kidneys! Needless to say, it’s wild around here, but I keep semi- sane by getting creative in the kitchen, and the craft room.
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Well I hope you enjoyed that awfully long post today!!!
Happy slow-cooking 😉
*UPDATE* I have started to use my delicious freezer meals and I want to share some pictures of the finished products, as well as some more tips!
Mmmm… Chili. I serve this with a scoop of fresh salsa on top and a piece of crusty bread:
The recipe I make by far the most is the pulled pork:
Tonight I had the beef and broccoli. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. I added a tsp of grated fresh ginger to the slow cooker, and steamed the broccoli on the stovetop (right before I served it) to keep it green and not over-cooked, though I then forgot about it and proceeded to over-cook it. Oh well, It was delish:
And I just finished up the cheesy chili chicken, which I normally put inside flour tortillas! Drool! The only thing I need to say about those is that because there is cream cheese in the recipe (usually if you are using dairy in the slow cooker you should add it at the end to prevent curdling) it kinda looks funky halfway thru cooking, but in the end, once you shred the chicken and stuff it in a burrito (I added some fresh spinach and tomatoes) It is just fine. And delicious. Here is how we had it this time:
Anyways, I’ll keep updating as I use my freezer meals! Now, back to your regular programming!