When you prep your own slow cooker freezer meals, you’re freeing yourself from the nightly stress of fixing dinner and doing dishes. A little pre-planning and one marathon day of cooking can give you weeks of delicious, home cooked meals with barely any weeknight preparation at all; just throw the ingredients in a slow cooker! As much as freezer meal planning might seem like a no brainer, it can be intimidating when you’re just starting out. How can you shop effectively and efficiently to get the most bang for your buck? What are some easy, delicious, and healthy recipes that you can start out with? And what’s the best way to prep your own freezer meals? We tackled the freezer meal challenge by hosting our own freezer meal prep day, where we bought ingredients for freezer meals using only $120 and then made 14 delicious meals that can feed a family of four. Keep reading to learn the benefits of freezer meal planning, some handy tricks and tips, and the slow cooker freezer meal recipes that worked for us!
Freezer Meal Prep Benefits
Having a delicious home cooked meal in the freezer really pays off on those busy weekday nights when you have no desire to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Dinner is pretty much ready when you walk in the door every night, which means you can spend more time doing what you like to do! For example, an average meal takes about an hour to prepare; most of these recipes can be made in seven minutes. Plus, when you prep your own easy slow cooker freezer meals, it means fewer trips to the grocery store, fewer dishes to wash every night, and fewer leftovers and wasted food. It will also cut back on last-minute frozen dinners; you’ll get to know exactly what’s in your food. Finally, it’s cost-efficient. Our easy recipe plan means you can make 14 dinners for a family of four with a cost of only $120.
Slow Cooker Freezer Meals Prep Tips
Shop meat sales and prepare meals using the same main ingredient.
For example, we tend to use recipes that use one of three base ingredients: chicken, pork chops, or beef. When you shop meat sales, you can really stretch your dollar for those main ingredients, making it budget-friendly to prep your own freezer meals!
Cook double or triple batches of recipes.
The real beauty of freezer planning is that you’re supposed to cook more than your family can eat in one sitting. As long as you have room in your freezer, you can prep three batches of what the recipe calls for, giving you lots of extra weeknights where you don’t have to worry about cooking.
Group jobs together.
Have multiple recipes that call for chicken breast? Make them all at the same time, measuring and combining ingredients in freezer bags, so you can be extra efficient. Then, move onto a different main ingredient.
Schedule one day of cooking every 4-6 weeks.
Instead of spending an hour every night cooking, spend a whole day cooking so that you can only take about seven minutes a night when you’re really busy. All these easy slow cooker freezer meals take, on average, less than fifteen minutes to throw together. Get them done all at the same time!
Use as many in-season ingredients as possible.
You can freeze pretty much anything, especially if you’re planning on throwing your meal in the slow cooker for a few hours when it’s ready to cook. That means you should try to freeze recipes involving strawberries in July, and recipes involving cranberries in November. The ingredients will be at their peak freshness, and you’ll get to enjoy out-of-season flavors when you are finally ready to serve your slow cooker freezer meals!
Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Recipes
You can make all these slow cooker freezer meals for about $100. Or, pick and choose your favorite recipes and make multiples!
Sweet Ginger Chicken
Salty soy sauce and sweet honey combine for a mouthwatering and savory dish.
Sweet and Sour Pork Chops
An instant classic with a twist; we love the mix of apple jelly and chicken broth with the boneless pork chops.
Berry BBQ Chicken
Get the taste of winter without any of the chilliness using the slight tang of cranberries with an envelope of onion soup mix.
French Dip Beef
This delectable two-ingredient comfort food practically falls apart on the plate. You just need beef chuck roast and beef consommé soup!
Creamy Italian Chicken
Rich, flavorful, and classic creamy Italian chicken only needs four ingredients and a little time in the slow cooker.
Country BBQ Ribs
These ribs have all the flavor of a summer barbecue with only two ingredients: country style pork ribs and barbecue sauce.
Freezer Pulled Pork
We always keep a bag or two of this pulled pork on hand in case we want to whip up a few last-minute sandwiches for lunch or dinner.
The Best Chicken Ever
Tangy red wine vinegar, sweet maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and more—no wonder we call this chicken “the best ever!”
Keep a bag or two of sloppy Joe meat on hand so you can always turn to this classic childhood comfort food without any of the usual preparation fuss.
Even the pickiest of eaters can agree that tacos are a favorite weeknight dish; make sure you always have taco mea ton hand with this two-ingredient recipe.
Baked ziti is a lot like classic lasagna, except without all the fuss and layering. This recipe can feed a real crowd, making this the perfect recipe for potlucks or midwinter comfort food.
You just need chicken breast and a bottle of teriyaki sauce to make this quick and easy dinner.
Slow Cooker Fajitas
Weeknight slow cooker fajitas have never been easier; they’re a great way to feed a crowd and add a little spice to an otherwise boring night.
Freezer Sweet Barbeque Meatballs
You’ll want to keep these meatballs on hand at all times; we especially love the sweetness of grape jelly with the tang of barbecue sauce.