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DIY Frozen Meal Packs for Your Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are most often pulled out of storage and into dinner service in the fall, when schedules become busier and hearty; stick-to-your-ribs chilis, stews and soups are more well suited to the cool weather. But I think a slow cooker is a perfect tool for summertime use — it won’t heat up the kitchen like turning on the oven will, and it requires minimal prep, so you can toss ingredients in and get back outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. Frozen slow-cooker meals were a popular new grocery store item last year, but can easily be made at home, from scratch — simply toss ingredients for virtually any Crock Pot recipe into a durable Hefty Slider Bag and stash in the freezer. When you need a quick dinner, all you need to do is open the bag and dump the frozen block in your slow cooker in the morning, turn it on, and dinner will be ready when you get home from work or the pool. How easy is that?

You could, of course, use virtually any slow cooker recipe and put all the ingredients into a Hefty Slider Bag and then into the freezer first, rather than put them all into the slow cooker. Your dish will be broken down by the long, slow cooking time anyway, so no damage will be done by freezing the ingredients first.

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin: Place 1-2 pork tenderloins in a Hefty Slider Bag; add 1/4 cup each grainy mustard and liquid honey. If you like, add 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and a crushed clove of garlic. Seal and freeze. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Vegetarian Chili: In a large Hefty Slider Bag, put a chopped onion, 1-2 chopped red, yellow or orange bell peppers, 5-6 crushed garlic cloves, 1 19 oz. (540 mL) can black beans (drained), 1 19 oz. (540 mL) can each red kidney beans and chickpeas (drained), 1 19 oz. (540 mL) can diced tomatoes, a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin and a big pinch of salt. If you like, add 1 Tbsp. cocoa and 1-2 tsp. chopped chipotle chiles en adobo. Seal and freeze. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Turkey Chili with Apples: in a large Hefty Slider Bag, put a chopped onion, carrot and celery stalk, 2 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash, 1 chopped apple, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 lb ground turkey, 2 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 Tbsp. ground cumin, 1 (10 oz/284 mL) can undiluted chicken broth, 1 (398 mL) can coconut milk, 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, 1 cup (250 mL) drained canned black beans, some salt and pepper and a small handful of chopped cilantro, if you like. Seal and freeze. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Thai Chicken Thighs: In a large Hefty Slider Bag, place 8 skinless chicken thighs, 1 cup salsa, 1/4-1/2 cup peanut butter, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. lime juice and 2 tsp. grated ginger. Seal and freeze. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve over steamed rice, with chopped peanuts on top.

Creamy Chicken Stew: In a large Hefty Slider Bag, place 4-6 chopped chicken thighs (or 3-4 breasts), 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped red pepper, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery stalk, half a pouch of vegetable or onion soup mix, 1 can condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup and 1 can of water. Seal and freeze. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: 1 3-5 lb. pork shoulder (with bone or without), 1 halved and thinly sliced onion, 1 Tbsp. dry barbecue spice rub or other seasoning blend, 1 cup apple juice or chicken stock, and 1 cup barbecue sauce. Seal and freeze. To cook, empty into a slow cooker (while frozen), cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve pulled pork on split buns with creamy coleslaw, if you like.

 

 

A big thanks to Hefty for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

 

 

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