Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tried and Tested: Crockpot Freezer Meals Part 1

I went to a church activity in August where we were taught how to do freezer meals for quick, easy, delicious meals to make dinner time easier and healthier. Since then, I have been notorious about making freezer meals.

I spend 2-3 hours prepping and bagging the meals then when it comes time to cook it, I drop it in the Crockpot and let it cook.  Since having my little in October our family has continued to have delicious dinners and I have been able to maintain my stress levels because it's so easy.

My hubby will even help entertain the little while I put on a movie or binge watch a Netflix show and chop away!!

Since I also like to save money, I'm happy to say I spend less than $200 each month to make about 40 freezer meals.  Since it's just Superman and I right now, that can actually last us almost two months. The first time I made them in September, I didn't have to make more until the third week of October. Take that grocery budget!!

8 Quick Tips for Assembling Crockpot Freezer Meals:

1. Before placing any food in the gallon bags, label the bag with the dish name, date of assembly, cooking time and any additional instructions such as, shred chicken and cook additional time or add cream cheese and cook 20 more mins or serve over rice/noodles.

2. Place meat and produce in the bag first and liquids such as sauces, canned beans or vegetables last.  This will help the bag not roll around as you are trying to fill it.

3. Prep like things all at the same time. For instance, if I have three recipes with bell peppers in them, I'll chop or dice all bell peppers before moving on to the next ingredient.

4. If you need to cut any meats, do it after the produce so you can use one knife (you're starting to see how lazy I am, aren't you??).

5. The girl I learned this from suggested having a bowl you can throw your trash straight into. I just bring my garbage can over to my working area (you call it lazy, I call it efficient).

6. When all ingredients are in the bag, seal the bag well and mix the ingredients around to mix flavors. 

7. Remove as much air as possible when you seal the bag.

8. Place in the freezer laying as flat as possible (when I did this for the first time I made the mistake of standing them up and as they froze, they got stuck in the gaps of the freezer shelf).

DISCLAIMER: These are recipes that I have actually TRIED, these aren't recipes I've found on Pinterest, pinned and forgotten about. I'll let you know of the ones I didn't like and why in case my taste is different than yours.

I usually double each recipe so I can buy more in bulk (hopefully things on sale) and it makes prepping easier.

In this post:
Chicken broccoli Alfredo
Chile Colorado Burritos
Chicken Taco Chili
Chicken Fajitas
Spicy Chicken over Rice

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

-3 Chicken breasts, cut into strips (I left mine whole and then shredded them when cooked because I'm lazy)
-2 cups broccoli frozen or fresh
-1 large green bell pepper, chopped
-32 ounces Alfredo sauce

If using frozen broccoli, throw all ingredients into gallon bag and freeze.
Cook on low 6 hours, high 3 hours, serve over noodles.

The first time I made this I used frozen broccoli and felt it came out too soft/soggy so I opted to use fresh broccoli the next time and to steam it on my stove while I was making the noodles.  After steaming it, add it to the sauce in the crockpot and serve over noodles.

Thoughts: Just needed a little salt and pepper when we ate it so I just add that to my taste or I'm sure you can add it to the cooking process.

Chile Colorado Burritos

-1.5 pounds stew meat
-1 large can enchilada sauce (I use green sauce)
-1-2 cans refried beans
-Flour tortillas

Place beef and enchilada sauce into gallon bag and freeze.
Cook on low 7-8 hours, high 3-4 hours.
Shred beef (Usually just stirring it will shred it well) and warm up refried beans on stove top. Spoon beef from crockpot onto flour tortilla with refried beans (I like to use a slotted spoon for the beef so I cut out some of the enchilada sauce from the inside).
Roll into burrito and place on a cookie sheet or into a baking pan if you want more of an enchilada feel. Cover with enchilada sauce from crockpot and cheese. 
Place in broiler until bubbly and/or cheese melts.

Thoughts: I really like this one. I place them in a baking dish so they come out more like enchiladas. 

Chicken Taco Chili

-1 Onion, chopped (I like to use yellow, but any will work)
-16 ounces can black beans
-16 ounces can kidney beans
-8 ounces tomato sauce (I like making it with 16 ounces more)
-10 ounces frozen corn
-28 ounces diced tomatoes
-1 packet of taco seasoning
-1 T. Chili Powder
-1 T Cumin
-3 Boneless Chicken breasts

Cook on low 10 hours or high 6 hours.
30 mins before serving, shred chicken and return to crockpot.
Top with cilantro, cheese or sour cream if desired.

Thoughts: Another of my favorites, I've been making this for years, I just adapted it to be a freezer meal.

Chicken Fajitas

-2 Green Peppers, sliced
-1 Onion
-3 Chicken Breasts
-1/2 C. Chicken Broth
-1 Taco Seasoning packet
-1 t. Chili Powder
-1/2 t. Paprika
-1 t. Salt

Cook on low 5-6 hours.
Shred meat, serve on tortillas with cheese, sour cream and other toppings as desired.

Thoughts: This is a very simple yet delicious meal that continues to make it's appearance on our plates.

Spicy Chicken over Rice

-1.5 lbs Chicken (2-3 breasts)
-12 ounces Salsa
-2 T. Taco Seasoning
-1 T. Maple Syrup
-1 t. Lime Juice
-4 ounces cream cheese

Place all ingredients except cream cheese into gallon bag and freeze.
Cook all ingredients 6-7 hours low, 4-5 hours high.
Shred chicken and add cubed cream cheese.
Cook 20 more minutes allowing cheese to melt.
Stir and serve over rice.

Thoughts: This IS my favorite! I could eat this seven times a month.  It's name is spicy chicken but depending on the spice of the salsa you use will determine the spiciness of the dish (I hope everyone else likes it as much as I do).

After you try them, come back and let me know what you thought of them and what some of your favorites are.

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