Master the whole week in one afternoon with our list of 15 healthy make-ahead meals that can go right from your freezer into your slow cooker! We’ve found some of the best freezer meal recipes for families who need cheap and delicious dinners during the week but can’t spend hours cooking. Crock-Pot freezer meals are all the rage right now, with hundreds of options for every family. Try one of these easy-to-make freezer bag meals and see how you like it! Or go all in and create your own once-a-week freezer meal plan.
Keeping Dump Dinners Safe
First, you might ask, “Is it safe to freeze a meal together like that?” The answer is “absolutely!” Both businesses and cooks make many kinds of make-ahead dinners, and it’s perfectly safe. It’s just essential to freeze foods for a safe amount of time, make sure that each ingredient isn’t frozen for too long, and make sure the meals stay consistently at a low temperature. (The USDA advises the 40/140 rule: Food should be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.) Then, when you’re ready to throw it into your slow cooker, it’s important to make sure the meal is heated thoroughly. Some foods are riskier than others, but most are perfectly safe. Knowing how to cool and thaw your freezer meal properly will help to keep away bacteria and also help the taste.
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Keeping Freezer Meals Delicious
That being said, a lot of foods are perfectly safe to freeze but aren’t quite optimal taste-wise. Some foods might suddenly get a mushy, measly, or rubbery texture that’s not appetizing, such as cabbage, many types of lettuce, potatoes, cooked pasta or rice, citrus fruits, and gelatins. Other foods will separate or lose their consistency, like creams, icings, egg whites, custards, mayonnaise, and many milk sauces. Most foods can be frozen just fine, though; it’s a matter of preparing the ingredients properly before being frozen. So if you ever see freezer bag meals with cooked pasta or one of these other non-freezer-friendly ingredients, make sure to read the instructions in detail. For a lot of healthy freezer meals, recipes include secondary ingredients you add at the end or cook as the meal is finishing up.
Trying New Recipes
There are dozens of Crock-Pot dump dinner recipes that include chicken; all you need to do is add some veggies, fat, acid, and different spices. Beyond chicken breast, pork chops and stew meat are perfect for slow cooking. Celebrating meatless Mondays? There are quite a few choices of vegan and vegetarian freezer meals that you can make ahead as well. For most Crock-Pot dump meals, recipes are usually relatively healthy, especially when compared to the extreme amount of calories in restaurant foods. Naturally, there are a lot of comfort food freezer-friendly meals you can make in advance, too, like chicken pot pie or beef stroganoff.
Getting a bunch of groceries, breaking them down, and having a week’s worth of food is one of the perks of make-ahead freezer meals. The other perk is that most of the time, these recipes are very cheap: Take the lemon butter chicken recipe by Jill, for instance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pound of chicken is about three dollars, the amount of butter would be under two dollars, a lemon under one dollar, and peas (which are typically around the same price as carrots) would be under a dollar. Even if your grocery store is expensive, the meal would be under ten dollars, making it a fraction of the cost of restaurant meals or even prepared meals. Remember: the cost of creature comforts can add up! Every one of these recipes you could quickly make for under $20, and they often will serve a family of four.
So if your resolution this year is to save money, cut down on calories, and keep your family fed without going insane, having once-a-week meal-planning sessions and packing away five or six slow cooker freezer meals into baggies can help you reach your goals! Once you get going, creating a dump-and-go meal plan is pretty easy. Create stress-less weeks full of delicious food with our list of 15 make-ahead slow-cooker freezer meal recipes.
Feel free to cite the original creators of these delicious recipes:
- French Onion Chicken by Stephanie Ertel at stockpilingmoms.com
- Coconut Quinoa Curry by Alyssa at simplyquinoa.com
- Spicy Orange Chicken and Lemon Butter Chicken by Jill at bloglovin.com
- Homemade Minestrone Soup by Marzia at littlespicejar.com
- Jerk Pork by Lisa at onceamonthmeals.com
- Mushroom Barley Stew by Melissa Griffiths at superhealthykids.com
- Lentil-Butternut Squash Curry by Lindsey Johnson at helloglow.co
- Beef Stroganoff by Melissa Griffiths at superhealthykids.com.
- Sweet Fire Chicken by Tiffany at lecreamdelacrumb.com
- Cilantro Lime Chicken by Ashley Marx at ashleynoelbarnes.blogspot.com
- Ranch Pork Chops by Amy at pennywisecook.com
- White Chicken Chili by Rachel at onecrazyhouse.com
- Cauliflower Bolognese by Alissandra Maffucci at inspiralized.com
- Pepper Steak by Brandi Burgess by auntbeesrecipes.com