I love to cook, but don't want the extra heat in my kitchen during the summer months. I like easy, nutritious and delicious meals ready to eat when I get home from work.
Of course Pinterest comes into play with this since I found several recipes to try my crock pot freezer meals. This is a great way to save time and money and some energy since you don’t need your oven.
I wondered if the preparation was really as easy as everyone posts on Pinterest. Now that I have tried some I can say it’s not that bad. It does take a little time and it is much better with two people instead of one. My husband and I prepped for about two hours and created 12 freezer meals.
I found a great web page from WhoNeedsACape.com that had many recipes to choose from. My family (more my son) is picky so I need to be choosy on what I can fix. The recipe needs to be easy to modify for their taste.
My husband and I actually had a great time preparing the food for the freezer together. It can certainly become a nice bonding time with each other.
I did learn some things with our first adventure. A pork butt roast should not be too big for your freezer bag or it becomes a giant mess trying to force it into the bag. We did laugh though.
Also, there were several recommendations on Pinterest to lay the bags flat to freeze which is a space saver in the freezer. It’s not a good idea to try to fit a frozen square meal in the crock pot before you leave for work. Mine didn’t fit! So now I try to remember to take the meal I want and put in the fridge the night before so it is thawed enough to fit. (But I get busy and forget.)
One more thing, make sure you place the bags on a cookie sheet or bar pan to freeze. Otherwise, the bags will fall in between the racks on the freezer and get stuck. I learned this the hard way too and of course my husband just laughed at me. At least after 22 years I can still make him laugh because I was just frustrated with the daggum bag.
I’ve tried the following recipes:
Now which recipes have I repeated and which ones will I no longer prepare?
• The pulled pork BBQ is amazing with the right BBQ sauce. That is a personal preference -- our family actually likes the Kraft brown sugar the best.
• The applesauce BBQ chicken was OK, not great, I have not made this again. I might later but it is one for once a while.
• The crock pot chicken tacos are amazing and it makes a good quantity of chicken. I have actually shredded the chicken for tacos and frozen half of it cooked for another meal at a later date.
• The honey garlic chicken is also a favorite at our house. I make this usually every other week.
• The crock pot teriyaki chicken and the crock pot chicken and dumplings were not favorites, I have not repeated either of these.
• The Mongolian beef was not liked at all.
• The beef tips and gravy were good, I have made this again and I serve it over rice.
Note: Multiple chicken recipes call for thighs or other cuts of the chicken. I used chicken breast in all of our recipes and they turned out fine.
The freezer meals can get pricey if you don’t pay attention to market prices and monitor sales. I did watch sales to find chicken breast for $1.89 a pound to save money. I also had some vegetables left over and went ahead and chopped everything up and put in smaller freezer bags for our next meal prep event. I do coupon so that helped in finding a lot of the staples (BBQ, sauce, teriyaki, Worcestershire, soy sauce etc.) and sides at a lower price.
These do-ahead crock pot meals were definitely worth the money, time, and effort to prepare. I know my family gets a healthy meal and I don’t have to work as hard in the evening preparing dinner. We get to enjoy more time together which is priceless.
Do you have any freezer meals to share? I would love to try a new recipe.
Please feel free to email me any ideas or topics you would like to discuss. I will gladly review and share my views. LRichardson@wdbj7.com