Saturday, March 30, 2013

Slowcooker Freezer cooking

I have done this a few times before and it always blows my mind how easy preparing meals can be. There are recipes you can follow, and places you can go, to cook meals to then freeze for later use. This is way better :)  Combine your ingredients into freezer bags, raw, and then freeze. Once you are ready to eat, thaw and put in the crock pot. The preparations involve no cooking (mostly) and the hardest part is cutting up all of the veggies! I knew I wanted to plan on making a few meals before Lincoln arrived just because they are so simple and helpful when you just don't feel like cooking but want a homemade meal.

I found out about this easy method over a year ago, from the blog, Mama and Baby Love (I even bought her e-cookbook with freezer-slow cooker recipes) and have found other blogs and websites to pull recipes from, since then. This time around, I chose our favorite few and some that I haven't tried before. Check out the recipes and also check out the source websites, there may be other recipes that you will enjoy just as much I enjoy some of these!

I pre-cooked the ground beef a day or two prior, just to get it out of the way. I had a 4 lb pack of ground beef but only needed 1 lb for my freezer cooking, so I separated the other 3 lbs into 3 smaller Ziplocs and froze them too, for use in BBQ, tacos, etc. I have been collecting some of the canned goods over the past few weeks, but did most of my shopping all in one trip. I usually use raw, fresh meat, but this time I used frozen chicken breasts because I needed about 10-12 lbs and it was a bit less expensive for me to do it that way. It is up to you, but either way works great. Aside from cooking the ground beef previously, the whole process took me about 2 hours and yielded me 9 meals, plus I am sure most meals will have left-overs! Clean up is a cinch, since you aren't really cooking much and you do all of your mixing directly in the freezer Ziploc, which I appreciate greatly (we don't have a dishwasher). Here are the recipes and some pictures I took along the way.

Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken
Split all ingredients between 2 gallon bags

2 Lbs Chicken thighs (I use breasts)
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large green peppers, cut into strips
1 large red pepper, cut into strips
2 zucchini, chopped
2 cups chopped onion, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
2 15-oz cans of tomato sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ground yellow mustard
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients into two separate one-gallon freezer bags, lay flat, label and freeze.
Day of cooking: dump into slowcooker and cook on high for 4 hrs or low for 8 hrs.

My alterations: Im not crazy about the zucchini and we like the sweet potatoes and onions best, so I omit the zucchini and use large potatoes instead of medium, and 3 onions, split between the two bags.
This is definately one of my favorites!

Chicken n' Cherries
Split all ingredients between 2 gallon bags

4-5 lbs chicket breats or strips
2 cans of pittted cherries (or 2 bags of fresh cherries, pitted)
chili sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar

Add as much chili sauce as you want to each bag, I usually add about 3-4 tablespoons.
Combine all ingredients into two separate one-gsallon freezer bags, lay flat, label, freeze.
Day of cooking: dump into slowcooker and cook on high for 4 hrs or low for 8 hrs. Shred chicken or leave in larger portions. This is Scott's favorite.

Source: The Test Kitchen of Melissa Fallis (I've also made the vegetable beef soup from this website which was pretty good!)

Stephanie's Goulash/Beef Stew (this was adapted from a Mama and Baby Love recipe which uses beets)
Split all ingredients between 2 bags

1 green pepper
2 chooped onions
4 carrots chopped
4 minced cloves of garlic
3 lbs beef stew meat
12 oz Tomato paste4 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper

Dump into crockpot and cook on high for 4 hrs or low for 8 hrs. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream about 10 minutes priot to serving.

Black Bean Taco Soup
Makes 1 bag

1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package taco seasoning mix
16 oz bag frozen corn
16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
(2) 14 oz cans stewed tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
4 oz can diced green chillis

Brown meat and onion, drain and let cool, then add to freezer bag. Add all remaining ingredients, mix, lay flat, label and freeze.
Day of cooking: thaw for 24 hours in fridge, cook on high for 1-2 hours of low for 2-3.5 hrs. Serve with tortilla chiops, cheese, cour cream and guacamole.

Chicken Cacciatore
Makes 1 bag

1 lb chicken breasts
26 oz jar of chunky vegetable-style spagetti sauce
1 zucchini, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped

Add all ingredients to freezer bag, mix, lay flat, label and freeze.
Day of cooking: thaw in fridge for 24 hours, cook on low for 6-8 hours.

French Dip Sandwiches
Makes 1 bag

2-3 lb beef chuck roast
30 oz beef consume

Place roast in freezer bag and add consume.
Day of cooking: thaw in fridge for 24 hours, cook on low for 8-11 hours or high for 5-7. Remove roast from slowcooker and shred. Save juice for dipping. Serve on sandwich buns.

*In typing these recipes, I realized there were a few things I forgot (I didn't add brown sugar to the chicken n' cherries and didn't use enough stewed tomatoes in the taco soup) but usually these recipes are pretty forgiving. At least I can still blame baby brain ;)


Freezer stocked, check!

These are all the dishes I ended up with!!

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