10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)

This is one of those blog posts that you are going to come back to again and again. I dare say it might even change your life. 10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals is just as convenient as it sounds, but it gets better. There’s no cooking needed on your prep day which saves you tons and tons of time, and even better, these meals are all really healthy. I have spent weeks on this post! I researched, made lots of recipes, and my family and I ate our way through every single one. The original 20 recipes I started with have gotten paired down to our very favorite 10 recipes. Four of the recipes are vegetarian, four are chicken dishes, one is pork, and two are beef. I feel like I got a lot a variety and delicious flavor without needing any exotic or expensive ingredients. Processed foods were kept to a minimum (check out the shopping list! I think you’ll be super pleased with it!), and there’s tons of vegetables included!I can’t get over how easy this cooking method is! You dump all the raw ingredients into a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. On cooking day you add the contents of the bag and maybe a little water or broth to your slow cooker and then just let it do its thing!  My sister was in town a few weeks back and she helped me prep all of my freezer meals. I had no idea that my kids would end up being sick and staying sick (due to a misdiagnosis…) for the next 5, almost 6 weeks! I was so grateful to have food in the freezer that I didn’t have to think about or run to the store to get ingredients for. These meals were a lifesaver and even now, when we’ve gotten back to feeling better again, I have found myself enjoying them and feeling glad they are in the freezer when I need them. The prep day is a little long and messy but the benefit of having so much of the work done is very worth it.About half of the meals are one dish wonders (soups and stews that can stand alone as a meal or just need a little bread on the side to round them out). The other half are parts of meals like Teriyaki Chicken and Beef Stroganoff. They need rice or noodles and a vegetable or two served with them to make them a complete meal. I like having both types of meals in the freezer. If I make too many soups and stews my family gets tired of them, and they start to moan a little when they see the slow cooker on the table. When I am adding fresh elements like the freshly cooked pasta or rice and some kind of fresh salad and steamed or roasted vegetables it makes the meal feel like less of a “slow cooker” meal. I still love making the main dish in the slow cooker though because I know it’s going; when 5pm rolls around getting a little rice cooked and some veggies prepped doesn’t feel like a big deal. All the thinking is already done. Isn’t that half of the dinner time battle? Deciding what to make!?The serving size for each meal is 6 to 8 people. They are pretty big meals but the beauty in that is that you get to cook even less. For my family of 2 adults and 4 small children who eat (I have a nursing baby too but he doesn’t get put into the food count yet) each recipe made almost 2 full meals. I love leftovers and didn’t mind at all having them around. If there wasn’t quite enough for a full supper then we ate the leftovers for lunch. A bigger family or one with kids who eat a little more than mine will love the serving size.

Before you jump on board, read the whole post! It includes 10 recipes, a shopping list, plus a big list of tips and tricks I have learned!

And because I like to make things really easy, here is a printable PDF of all of the recipes, instructions, and tips and tricks! Dinner just got easier, way easier!

Just click on this link
Download the recipes & shopping list!

10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)Instructions:
1. Decide how many and which meals you plan to make.
2. Make a shopping list. The shopping list provided is to make all 10 recipes but does not include any of the serving suggestions.
3. Shop
4. Day of freezer meal prep- collect all needed supplies, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, fun music and snacks are always smart too.
5. Print out recipes to have handy without having to worry about spills getting on an electronic device.
6. Label gallon zipper-top freezer bags with recipe name, date, ingredients that will need to be added to the slow cooker (such as water or broth and how much) on cooking day, and cook time.
7. To make the freezer meals: Place all of the ingredients that are listed under the recipe title into the corresponding labeled gallon zipper-top freezer bag. Fold the top of the bag over and freeze lying flat.
8. On cooking day, take the meal bag from the freezer, run it under warm water to loosen the contents from the bag, add the contents of the bag to the slow cooker, add additional ingredients as needed (broth or water), and cook according to directions.
9. Salt and pepper have been added sparingly, so taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)

Vegetable Beef Stew
2 pounds stew meat
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups green beans, broke into bite-sized pieces
1 cup sweet corn
2 tablespoons beef stock base (I like Organic Better than Bullion)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup apple juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Day of: Add 1 1/2 cups of water to slow cooker before cooking
Cook Time: 8 to 10 hours on low
Serve with: fresh bread or biscuits
Serves 6 to 8

Beef Stroganoff
1 pounds stew meat
1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 onion, diced
½ cup apple juice
1 tablespoon beef stock base (I like Organic Better than Bullion)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Day of: Add 1 cup water to the slow cooker before cooking. Stir in 1 cup of sour cream just before serving.
Cook Time: 8 hours on low
Serve with: egg noodles or rice and green beans
Serves 6 to 8

Cranberry-Mustard Pork Roast
2-3 pounds pork roast (lion, butt, or shoulder)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon brown or Dijon mustard
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Cook Time: 8 to 10 hours on low
Serve with: mashed potatoes and steamed green vegetables or side salad
Serves 6 to 8

10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)Mushroom Barley Stew
1 pound Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon black pepper

Day of: Add 6 cups of vegetable stock to the slow cooker before cooking.
Cook Time: 8 hours on low
Serve with: hot crusty bread or rolls
Serves 6 to 8

Black Bean Chili
3, 15-ounce cans black beans
1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 cup pumpkin (optional)
1 cup assorted chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

Day of: Add 4 cups stock (I used vegetable stock) to the slow cooker before cooking.
Cook Time: 6- 8 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high
Serve with: Tortilla chips and top with sour cream, cheese, and/or hot sauce
Serves 6 to 8

Hearty Lentil Stew
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups peeled and diced (1/4 inch cubes) sweet potatoes
1 cup red lentils
½ cup washed quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano

Day of: Add 5 cups stock (I used vegetable stock) to the slow cooker before cooking.
Cook Time: 6- 8 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high
Serve with: fresh breadsticks
Serves 6 to 8

Lentil-Butternut Squash Curry
1 onion, diced
2 cups red lentils
2 cups diced butternut squash
1, 14-ounce can coconut milk (I used full fat)
1, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Garam Marsala
1 teaspoon cumin

Day of: Add 5 cups of water to the slow cooker before cooking. Just before serving add an additional teaspoon of both curry powder and graham Marsala if desired, stirring to combine.
Cook Time: 6- 8 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high
Serve with: rice, flatbread or naan and roasted vegetables
Serves 6 to 8

10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, thighs or breast (I recommend thighs, they don’t dry out as much in the slow cooker)
1 cup corn
1, 15-ounce can black beans
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Juice from 2 limes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Cook Time: 6- 8 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high
Serve with: treat this like you would taco filling – add to tacos, burritos, taco salad, nachos, or make burrito bowls with it. stir in 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro before serving. It’s very flexible.
Serves 6 to 8

Teriyaki Chicken
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, thighs or breast, cut into bite-size pieces (I recommend thighs, they don’t dry out as much in the slow cooker)
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
1, 20-ounce can pineapple chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cook Time: 8 hours on low
Serve with: cooked brown rice and green veggies
Serves 6 to 8

Butter Chicken
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, thighs or breast, cut into bite-size pieces (I recommend thighs, they don’t dry out as much in the slow cooker)
1, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1, 15-ounce can coconut milk (I used full fat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons Garam Marsala
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Cook Time: 8 hours on low
Serve with: cooked brown rice and green veggies
Serves 6 to 8

10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)

Click to Get the Shopping List (for all 10 meals)

 

10 Quick and Healthy Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals (NO prep cooking needed!)Tips for Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals:
• Plan ahead! If you are going to prep all the recipes provided in one day then shop one day, prepare the second.
• On prep day, wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothes. Your body will thank you that night.
• Print out the recipes so that you have them right in front of you without worry about spilling anything on them. Make notes on any changes or adaptations you made as you go. If you make them a second time you’ll know what you did and what you like.
• Write the name of the dish, date, and anything extra you need to add the day of cooking on the bag before filling it. It’s much easier to write on a clean flat bag then a full one.
• All recipes were tested with all ingredients going into the bag uncooked. You can sauté onions and sear the meat for additional depth of flavor though it adds to the overall prep time significantly.
• I don’t like fresh potatoes, cauliflower, or broccoli frozen and then cooked in the slow cooker (sweet potatoes are fine though). If you are going to use these ingredients in a freezer to slow cooker type meal, I suggest buying them already frozen (instead of fresh), it works a little better.
• I prefer to use “baby bella” mushrooms in the slow cooker. They have great flavor and texture when cooked.
• I like to fold the top of the gallon bags over (so that the bag is about half as tall as it is wide) and then lay them flat to freeze. I have found that if I lay them out completely flat then they don’t fit in my slow cooker once they are frozen.
• In my research I noticed that some people suggested thawing the freezer meal in the fridge overnight the night before they plan on cooking it. They then cooked a thawed from the freezer, freezer meal. I put my meals straight from the freezer into the crock pot during recipe testing. I assume that both methods work fine, but I haven’t tested the thaw-first approach.
• Running the outside of the plastic bag under warm water for a minute or so made it easier to get the frozen contents out of the bag and into the slow cooker.
• In general cook frozen meals on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 7 to 8. I generally prefer the low and slow method, but a few times if I had forgotten to get the meal in the slow cooker until lunch then I would cook it on high for an hour or two and then drop it down to low heat for the last few hours.
• Most recipes call for one onion; in general, one onion is equivalent to 1 cup chopped onion.
• I don’t often buy the pre-chopped garlic in a jar, but I did for these. I made all 10 recipes in one day and having the garlic already chopped was a great time saver.

How about that Slow Cooker:
I tested all recipes using this Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. I highly recommend it. It’s a good price point (around $60) and I love that it has a thermometer attachment that you can use! It’s a nice feature that helps me to not overcook nice roasts. It was recommended to me by a friend and I’m happy to have it. I love that the lid clamps down too! It’s a great feature that I find myself using a lot.

My second recommendation would be the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker. I haven’t used this slow cooker but it is the number one selling crock pot on Amazon. It’s been reviewed over 1,800 times! I would say this would be a very safe bet, and at around $49, it’s a bargain.

Here’s that printable version of all the recipes, shopping list, and tips and tricks to make life so very convenient.

Download the recipes and shopping list!

Who said eating healthy had to be hard?! Not this mama!

Melissa cooks, confesses, and corrals chickens and children at Bless this Mess, where you can find healthy recipes (with some simple desserts included), a peek at her hobby farm, and the joys of raising five little ones, eight years old and younger. She’s got a whole lot of mess to bless!

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