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:

Easy pulled pork
Applesauce BBQ chicken
Crock pot chicken tacos
Honey garlic chicken
Crock pot teriyaki chicken
Crock pot chicken and dumplings
Easy crock pot Mongolian beef
Crock pot beef tips and gravy

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