Mastering slow cooker freezer meals was a total game changer for me in terms of meal prep. Combining the simplicity of the slow cooker with the convenience of make-ahead freezer meals makes dinner time a breeze, especially for busy nights. Just imagine opening up your freezer and having a variety of ready to go slow cooker freezer meals waiting, - no last minute grocery store trips, take out, or cereal for dinner. Just pop a prepared recipe in the slow cooker in the morning, pair it with a quick cooking grain and some veggies, and dinner is ready. It couldn't be easier.
Here are some general tips for creating slow cooker freezer meals.
- Prep the Same Way: When you are making a slow cooker recipe to freeze, follow the same preparation instructions as the original slow cooker recipe. That means leave ingredients raw that are meant to be added to the slow cooker raw and brown/cook any ingredients that are meant to be cooked before being added to the slow cooker. You are preparing the recipe in the same exact same way except you are adding it a freezer bag instead of the slow cooker.
- Use High Quality Freezer Bags for Easy Storage: Since you will be freezing most of these meals for up to 3-4 months, you want a high quality freezer bag that will last, prevent freezer burn, and won't leak. It's worth spending a little extra to avoid a messy freezer or ruined meal.
- Proper Order: When adding the ingredients to your freezer bags, you want to start with any beans or grains. Next add the veggies, sauce/broth/liquid, and spices. Lastly add the meat. This order tends to yeild the best results in my opinion, but don't worry too much if you use a different order.
- Freezer Storage: There are two keys to storing slow cooker freezer meals. First make sure to remove any excess air in the bag before sealing. Removing the air significantly decreases freezer burn. Secondly, store the bags sideways so that you can store multiple bags easily in your fridge. Once you pack everything into your freezer bag, seal it and lay it down sideways to freeze. I also recommend labeling your meals and including the recommended cook time and any extra instructions.
- Defrost Overnight: You want to defrost your meal before dumping it into the slow cooker. The easiest way to do this is by defrosting it in the fridge overnight the night before you plan on preparing the meal. You can also defrost in the microwave or a bowl of cold water if you need things to move more quickly. It's fine if it isn't fully defrosted when you add it to the slow cooker, but it should be mostly defrosted. When cooking the meal, you may have to add 1-2 hours to the cooking time if it isn't fully defrosted.
- Consider Frozen Ingredients: Lastly since you are freezing these meals, frozen ingredients can be a way to save time and money. Frozen veggies and proteins work great in these recipes.
Now that we know how to freeze slow cooker meals, here are some of my favorite slow cooker freezer meals.
- Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Chicken, 227 calories, 5 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Coconut Basil Chicken, 226 calories, 6 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Spicy Braised Beef, 233 calories, 5 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Chana Masala, 262 calories, 6 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms, 246 calories, 6 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Turkey Picadillo, 228 calories, 5 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Apple BBQ Pulled Pork, 215 calories, 5 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Curry Red Lentil and Carrot Stew, 236 calories, 6 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Thai Curry Beef, 213 calories, 5 PointsPlus®
- Slow Cooker Italian Beef, 223 calories, 5 PointsPlus®