I’ve mentioned before that I love my slow cooker. I’ve also mentioned that my disability sometimes means the last thing I can do is stand in the kitchen and cook. Although some recipes require a lot of precooking, many slow cooker meals don’t take much to ready for the freezer and they take very little to complete the entire meal. I’ll spend a couple of days creating a whole month’s worth of slow cooker meals that will keep in the freezer for several months. Here’s how I put together the make ahead slow cooker meals.
- If needed, I rearrange things in the chest freezer to make room for all my make-ahead meals. Some things are moved to my refrigerator’s freezer.
- I choose recipes that don’t require any pre-cooking. This means the meat, vegetables, sauces, seasonings, and spices all go in the freezer bag without any extra work.
- I make a list of any ingredients I need for all of the meals. Then I go through my coupons and match any I have for the ingredients I need. Finally, I’ll check the weekly ads for the stores in the area and make a list for each store, putting the coupons for those items with that store’s list.
- I mark, with permanent marker, each bag I’ll be using. I put the date the meal should be used by, and any special cooking instructions; for instance if broth or a condensed soup needs to be added at the time I cook the meal or if the meal should be thawed before putting it in the slow cooker.. I’ll also note the cooking time required on both low and high settings.
- I do all the prep work, like chopping onions, celery, and other vegetables, the day before I’m going to actually make the recipes for the bags. I keep them separate as not every meal gets the same combination. I’ll also make the spice blends for each meal the day before. If a recipe requires beans I soak them the day before. On the day I make the meals there’s not too much for me to do.
- On the big day I gather all the ingredients, the recipes, and the bags. I make a sort of assembly line with meats at one end and moving down the line through spices, herbs, and the precut vegetables.
I usually draft my husband to hold the bags upright and open while I fill them. Eventually I’m going to get a bunch of those bag holders so I won’t need him to stand there just to hold bags.
Here are some of the meals I make ahead for the slow cooker:
- Vegetable soup
- Meatball soup with vegetables
- Lemon and rosemary chicken
- Sloppy Joes
- Beef stew
- Buffalo chicken
- Lemon pepper chicken
- Chicken soup (Again, I just cook the egg noodles the day I serve)
- Pot roast
- Minestrone soup (the pasta will be cooked and added the day I make the soup)
- Chili (both tomato chili and white chicken chili)
- Stew (both chicken and beef)
There are so many meals that can be assembled and frozen ready to pop into the slow cooker that I can’t list them all. Do you make meals for the slow cooker in advance? I’d love to hear what you make!