Make ahead Freezer Crock Pot Meals
Making meals ahead of time saves precious moments that would normally be missed by spending time everyday cooking in the kitchen.
Why not put together meals and freeze them. You can do this one time. It takes about the same time to prepare 10 bags of Crock Pot Meals as it would to prepare one meal, so go ahead and try it. You will be so glad you did. You won’t miss out on another precious moment, or rush to make a so-so dinner when running late. This way, all your meals are nutritious and delicious.
Make ahead meals of any kind are easiest when done in assembly line fashion. Please see my other articles about Make Ahead Meals.
Making any meal ahead of time will free your time for so many things. Like that project you were planning, your needlepoint, your quilt, outdoor projects, relaxing, watching the birds, butterflies, and bees.
Make a plan. The best way to save money is to buy your meat on sale and in bulk. Check the sales papers for good deals on the meat you want.
Take advantage of BOGOF offers. My friend Doug found a great deal this week at Kroger’s, they had an offer on boneless pork chops, BOGOF. Take advantage of these deals, buy in bulk. Also, the ingredients you put in the meal can also be bought at a discount. Using coupons is also a great plus. Buying supplies in bulk also great for budget. Ziploc Easy Zipper Variety Pack – 140 Bags(including 80 Quart Size Bags & 60 Gallon Size Bags)
Invest in a good freezer
. Here’s the one I have. It holds everything I need it for. The price is great also. I got mine at Best Buy and paid more, but I found one on Amazon for a cheaper price. This one is all you will need. If you don’t have one, trust me, they are very useful in freezing foods in season, also for many sweetbreads you can make ahead and freeze for the year.
Turkey goes on sale in November for great prices. Wouldn’t you like to buy several and freeze them?
You can freeze corn in season, beans, and whatever fruit or vegetable in season for rock bottom prices. Your freezer will pay for itself in just a couple years. It’s true, I save lots of money by using my freezer.
The cost savings alone is worth it. Also the wonderful fresh food you can enjoy for your family. I can’t say enough about owning a freezer.
If you can’t afford to buy one immediately. Keep your eyes on the resale shops. Used appliances have been known to be a good deal. Also, I have a link on the right side of this page for Flex-Shopper. You can get a good deal by paying payments on one. You will pay a little more, but in the end, you will still save and with Flex-Shopper, the freezer is yours in one year. Everyone is approved there, so check out the link on the sidebar in this post.
If your freezer that you have with your refrigerator is ample enough to store at least 20 make ahead meals of any kind, it will do fine until you find the need to do more, and you will because you will enjoy the extra time you have so much, you will be seeking out other meals to make ahead, so read the previous posts on make-ahead meals that I listed above.
What size is your Crock Pot?
The meals you will prepare ahead will depend on the size of your crock pot.
For a family of 4-6 you will need at least a 6-8 quart
For a family of 2-4 you will need at least a 4-5 quart
I will include both in my article for you, so no worries about the size for now. If you need a good crockpot or a bigger one, resale is a good place to get one, also Amazon, I have a link to them in the sidebar of this article, just click on any amazon link and you will find a crockpot by entering it in the search.
I am a firm believer in resale shops. I love the savings. Sometimes when I need something now, I just order online, and while I am getting together all my ingredients the item will arrive and I am ready to go. However, you choose to do it. Just save money and buy at the best price. Always look around. I found Amazon to have the best deals, that’s why I have Amazon on my pages, I trust them and customer service is great.
What You will Need
Gallon size Zip Loc Freezer bags
Quart size Zip Lock Freezer bags
Small Zip Loc Sandwich bags-these don’t have to be freezer bags, they are only for spices or things that you can’t add to meals yet. They will be inside the freezer Gallon Bags so they will be fine.
Black Permanent Marker-You will be writing cooking instructions and other information on the bags so it has to be permanent. Always put the date on the bag. Always.
Zip lock freezer bags for several reasons as opposed to containers. Unless you are making a very large meal and need to use one of those large aluminum containers, I like the bags because it saves so much room in the freezer, you can stack many. Zip Loc bags are also re-usable. Simple to wash out and use again, just rewrite on the bag. Wash with soapy water and hang open on dish rack to dry. Many ways to do this. You can prop on large utensil to keep it open while drying, or you can buy special bag drying racks. Your choice. Also, you can invest in inexpensive racks that hold bags open while you fill them. Start out with 5 Jokari 16930 Baggy Rack Storage Bag Opener and Holder They also double as a drying rack for bags that you wash to reuse. So they serve two purposes that will save you money in the end.
Pre-Measure your spices before Starting to fill your bags
I use the containers my wet cat food comes in. About the size of a small Ramekin, it will hold your spices for each bag. I just measure for each bag and put in container assembly style. When I am done, I simply pour them in the bag or wherever the recipe calls for them to be. See the many ways you can save money? Yay
Once you decide which recipe to make, start by buying your spices in bulk. It makes sense to save at every step here. Save, Save, Save.
Now you have all your food, spices, added ingredients, supplies. Now you are ready.
First, write instructions on your bags. Information will include any ingredients needed like eggs or dairy products that don’t freeze well unless they are mixed into meals before freezing.
The size of crock pot needed on the bag if you are freezing for different sizes. Also cooking time. Any information for the meal is needed on the Gallon bag. Don’t forget, this is important.
For each different make ahead meal you put together, write a recipe for it as a freeze ahead meal and write directions for it, so you will never have to search for the recipe and how to prepare it again.
Place recipe next to the Freezer Bag and read it as you fill, remember to write on the bag additional information. You may be making multiple bags of the same meal, along with a couple different ones, so keep these recipes with the bags you intend to fill.
Want to print some cards for free? Go Here
If you keep this in assembly line fashion you will be done in no time and will have saved yourself a ton of money and time.
Measure out your ingredients and have them ready to put in the Gallon bag. You can do this ahead of time. If you are required to place meat in a marinade or in a separate container, you can use your baggies for the marinade. NOTE. Any recipe that calls for marinade being separated from meat until ready to cook should be frozen that way.
If getting your ingredients together takes time and you find a deal on meat and need to freeze it, no problem. Get out your recipe cards and freeze the meat in Quart bags until you have all your ingredients together. Make sure when you freeze the meat, you measure the amount of meat needed for that recipe, also write on the bag which meal it is for, then you simply pull it out of the freezer, add it to the bag and finish. Put the bag in the freezer quickly before your pre-frozen meat starts to thaw.
Do not freeze meat and thaw for measuring. Make your portions in Quart bags for each meal on your recipe when you come home from the store.
Never thaw frozen meat and refreeze. Always freeze the meat in portion ready packages until you are ready to finish the recipe.
Here are some of my favorite freeze ahead Crock Pot Recipes
I will post links to other great sites for more recipes at the bottom of this article, so keep reading…..
All the recipes I am listing is for a 6-8 Quart Crock Pot. If you have a 4-6 Quart you can divide these recipes in half with much success.
If you need a crock pot for a good price, here’s one Crock-Pot 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel, SCV700SS
- 2lb beef chuck roast cut into small pieces
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped to your preferred size
- 2 celery stalks, chopped, include leafy part
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup barley (optional) Don’t add if potatoes are used. This is an either or recipe. If you use barley, don’t add potatoes.
- 7 cups beef broth. Not needed till the day of cooking. Can use can, bullion, or homemade broth
- 3 to 4 cut potatoes, cut to your size, but small, I personally do not freeze my potatoes unless they are immersed in liquid. They come out rubbery. Many make ahead freezer meals say to freeze potatoes in the bag, but unless it is red potatoes, I wait until the day I cook the meal and add it then. Your choice. I don’t want you to be disappointed, so leave them out until the day of cooking and then add fresh. Remember to write the amt of potatoes on the bag if you leave them out.
- Have bags labeled and ready to fill with instructions for any added items already written on the bag before filling.
When everything is chopped and diced and ready, throw the veggies and spices in the Gallon bag. Place Meat in a Quart freezer bag. Place meat on top. When you are ready to cook, place meat in first. Spices can be added to vegetables. Shake bag for distribution of spices. Or place in a separate baggie and add to bag. Your choice.
Place in the freezer after you have squeezed all the air out. Hopefully, you have made at least 3-5 at the same time. Then move on to next recipe. Try to freeze at least 10-15 make ahead crock pot meals of several different recipes your first time. When you find out how much time you saved, you will be planning to make 40-50 make ahead meals of many kinds. Please refer to my posts on make ahead freezer meals above.
Write on Bag
Crock Pot Beef Stew
Add 7 cups beef broth, homemade, can, or bullion
Add 3-4 cut up potatoes unless you froze them with the meal.
Cook on low 8 hours until carrots and veggies are tender
Freeze for up to 4 mos. YAY
When ready to cook, place the bag in cold water for an hour or so to thaw enough to place in crock pot. OR thaw in the fridge overnight.
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 lb beef roast, any kind, cut into large cubes
- 1½ cups beef broth, any kind, canned, homemade, or bullion. You will not be adding this to bag so make sure you have on hand when ready to cook.
- ½ lb red potatoes, quartered, or potatoes of your choice, cut into small pieces.
- ½ cup baby carrots diced, or regular carrots, your choice.
- ¼ tsp rosemary
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
As you can see by the spices in this recipe, a lot of spices are used for freeze ahead meals. That is why you should buy in bulk.
Prepare bags ahead of time. Label with date, what you need to add. For this recipe, you will need to write on the bag, add 1 1/2 cups beef broth.
Write on the bag how long to cook. For this recipe, it is 8-10 hours on LOW
When filling the bag, place all veggies and spices in, as in Beef Stew recipe, you can put seasonings in a baggie and place inside the bag with vegetables.
Variations to recipes
When making freezer meals for crock pots, it’s a good idea to use lower price meat cuts, since the slow cooking makes them tender. No need to pay high dollar for expensive cuts of meat. Chuck meat which is usually tough when fried or cooked, will be tender when slow cooked. Saving money is the key to this article, along with good wholesome fresh food.
You can exchange Beef for Pork or a mixture of both. That comes in handy when you are at the end of your assembly line and you have cuts of both Pork and Beef leftover. Throw them in a bag and make a pot-luck stew. Anything left over to make not quite a meal can be frozen and saved until you have enough. Don’t waste anything.. Just make sure to label your bag with how much meat you have in the bag and just add more meat to make up the difference.
These are my two favorites. Here is one more……
I love this recipe, I can make my own BBQ sauce, or buy in bulk what’s on sale for this delicious, tender meal. Buy your ribs in bulk and on sale.
- 2-3 lbs. boneless pork country-style ribs
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp Honey or applesauce
- 1½ cups barbecue sauce, make your own, or what you get on sale in bulk to make several of these. You will not be sorry. So Save , Save , Save
- salt and pepper
Get your bags ready, write the date and cooking instructions. 5-6 hours on LOW
Mix all ingredients together before adding to bag.
Salt and pepper ribs before placing in the bag with sauce. and cut up veggies.
Put all ingredients in the bag to mix to save dishes. Then add meat and make sure all meat is covered with sauce by moving the bag around until all meat is covered. Lay on the side to remove air, then seal.
You can also use ribs with bone in or other ingredients. Your choice, your preference. I make these recipes so they are completely versatile. You can have what you want or don’t want in your bags.
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