4 Make-ahead Crock-Pot freezer meals for busy moms

4 Make-ahead Crock-Pot freezer meals for busy moms

Between work, sports practice, dance and music lessons, drive-through meals are a temptation. They may be more costly to both your wallet and your health than they’re worth, though. Crock-Pot freezer meals mean coming home to delicious, home-cooked fare instead. Place ingredients in food storage containers or freezer bags, pop them in the freezer, and then thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and add them to the slow cooker in the morning before heading out to drop the kids at school and go to work.

Tips for make-ahead meals for busy moms

Follow these tips to make things even simpler when planning make-ahead meals.

  1. Use quality cooking utensils to make peeling and chopping ingredients faster.
  2. Thaw frozen meal kits overnight so they’ll fit in the slow cooker easily.
  3. Fill the containers with veggies first, then herbs and spices, and finally the meat. It doesn’t hurt to change the order, but, when you tip it all into the slow cooker, this puts the protein closest to the heat source and keeps the seasoning from clinging to the container.
  4. Label the containers with the name of the meal and a “use by” date — usually no longer than three months from when it goes in the freezer. You may be able to extend the life of frozen meals with food wrap liners, like freezer paper, which keeps air out of the containers.

1. Cheesy tortellini make-ahead freezer casserole

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Photo/Recipe Credit: Chungah Rhee @ Damn Delicious

Hearty and delicious, with the addition of a tossed salad or steamed asparagus or broccoli, this casserole hits all of the food groups.

Place the following in a freezer container or zipper bag:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 28-ounce can crushed or petite diced tomatoes
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes and chilies (don’t drain them)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or 1 teaspoon each fresh oregano and basil)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper

Store the kit in the freezer, and if a using zipped freezer bag, remove as much of the air as possible. Remove it from the freezer the night before serving it and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Add the thawed ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours. Break up the meat and then stir in a 19-ounce package of frozen cheese tortellini. Mix 1 cup of mozzarella cheese with 1/2 cup cheddar and sprinkle it on top. Cook the dish for another 15 minutes, until the pasta is tender.

2. Chicken Philly cheesesteak make-ahead frozen meal

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Photo/Recipe Credit: Jill @ The Galactagoddess

Healthy, easy, and delicious, there aren’t many options better than this.

Layer the following in a container or plastic bag and freeze:

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 bell peppers, cut into strips (use 1 red, 1 green, and 1 yellow for a colorful dish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

After thawing the kit overnight, add it to the slow cooker with 1 cup of chicken broth and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Serve the chicken on rolls, topped with provolone or Swiss cheese. Add a side salad, and dinner is ready.

3. Mushroom spinach stroganoff healthy make-ahead meal

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Recipe/Photo Credit: Jill @ The Galactagoddess

This will make Meatless Monday a family favorite.

Add to a container and freeze:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 10 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 12 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 cups baby spinach

Cook the thawed ingredients on low for 7.5 hours. Add 8 ounces of cream cheese and cook 30 minutes longer.

4. Pork roast frozen slow-cooker meal

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Recipe Credit: Kelly McNelis @ New Leaf Wellness

This make-ahead Crock-Pot meal brings entertaining back to weeknights without stress or strain.

Layer and freeze:

  • 2-1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 cup grape jelly
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

 

Thaw and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the bone and strain the juices. Serve the juice as is or thicken it with a cornstarch. Serve the roast with mashed potatoes and a tossed salad.

Another benefit of these Crock-Pot freezer meals is that they make delicious leftovers you can take to the office for lunch and store in the mini refrigerator.

Recipes courtesy of Thirty Handmade Days