After the New Year I started reading a number of blog posts about preparing and freezing a bunch of crock pot meals. You don’t cook anything ahead, merely buy and combine ingredients, putting them into ziploc bags with labels. When you want to use one, pull it out the night before, defrost it, and pop it in the crockpot the next morning, following directions written on the bag. I decided today was my day to try! Here is how the day went for me:
Morning: I spent the morning sort of putsying around on the computer and making my lists… didn’t head out to do the shopping for it until about noon. 12:00 noon: Living in Japan, I had to eliminate a fair number of potential recipes, and then go to three different stores to get my list. (The first two stores, believe it or not, did not have bell peppers. Well, the second store had two small yellow ones – $2.00 each!).
2:00 pm: I came home and began organizing the space. I put all the meat on one counter, all the veggies on another, and my herbs and spices in front of me as I started cutting meat. Eric and I decided it would be totally easier in the U.S., where meats are more prepared for you. Here, I had to take the skin off of all the chicken, cut up slabs of meat into stew meat, make my own chicken broth, etc.
3:00 pm – Kids came home from school and looked at mom like I was crazy! Kitchen total disaster.
5:45 pm – Got the last set of chicken breasts into the bag with all of its accompaniments.
Here are the dishes that I made. You can find a good assortment of options and recipes here and here and here….I copied a bunch of recipes into a Word document, then went thru it today and printed off the ones that I thought were doable based on the ingredients i could get today. Here is a link to the Freezer Crockpot Meals that you can use to choose your own!
Country Captain Chicken (adapted from a regular crockpot recipe I had)
Honey Cheese porkchops
Fiesta Chicken Soup
Italian Cheese Chicken
Lemon Pork Tacos
My general sense is that you can adapt any of your favorite crock pot meals and put them in the freezer. I even made one with cream cheese in it (Italian cheese chicken). For mushrooms, the best advice that I found was to fry them up in butter and freeze them separately in small baggies, then add when you start the crockpot.
One thing that I found was that it was the meat that took the most time to prepare. If I don’t have as much time in the future, I think I would at least prepare a bunch of meat – that is often the biggest battle in getting a meal going (again moreso because we live in Japan). I’m excited to have meals ready for this next month!
Let me know if you try it, and share your favorites!