Crockpot Freezer Meals in a Bag

Updated 1/7/2012

A few months ago, I discovered Pinterest. Basically, Pinterest is an online bulletin board where you can “pin” up all kinds of pictures, recipes and other inspirations onto “boards.” Your friends can then look at them and be equally inspired. I like it because it saves me from having 200 links under a generic “craft” bookmark, plus I follow a number of people who basically pick through the best of the Internet and give me all kinds of great ideas quickly.

One of the “pins” I loved was from this blog where she talked about making crockpot freezer meals. Baby #3 is due to launch in about two weeks and this is about the time where you start putting away freezer meals for the bleary postpartum life with a newborn. I wasn’t feeling very inspired since I haven’t found too many freezer meals that don’t come out just a little gross. Plus, I always forget they need like eighteen days to defrost (pregnancy drama strikes again), which usually adds up to another dinner of cardboard box pizza.

So this idea was, let’s be real, revolutionary.

I chose five crockpot recipes that were either tried and true, or sounded nutritious and delicious enough to take a chance on. They are as follows:

Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes – via Real Simple
Red Beans and Rice – via MyRecipes
Vegetable Soup – via about.com
Healthy Mama Barbecue Chicken – via the original Mama and Baby Love post (not a Tilley family favorite)
Mrs. Sorge’s Sweet and Spicy Chili

In total, I was making nine crockpot meals (I doubled all recipes except the Barbecue Chicken recipe since it serves something like 12 people). To assemble, I wrote post-in notes grouping ingredients by category: Vegetables, Canned Goods, Spices, Meats. I pre-labeled two gallon freezer bags with name of the meal, and before placing in the freezer wrote out additional direction such as how much water to add and how long they needed to cook.

From October 2011

Then I started chopping vegetables. I had a measuring cup sitting by the cutting board and would cut up all the onions, adding them to individual bags as I went, then all the green peppers, and so forth. It was faster than filling up one whole bag at a time. In total, it took about four hours to chop everything. (I listened to a lot of podcasts). I had to take breaks at various points to pick up various children at school, etc. But all I had to do was zip up the bags and toss them in the refrigerator.

From October 2011

Side note: It was pointed out to me later that evening when I was almost comatose from fatigue that perhaps other women who are 37.5 weeks pregnant should break the assembly process into a two-day venture. At the time, I’m pretty sure I said something very rude before collapsing into bed at 8:30pm but after 12 hours of sleep this rang of good sense.

After the vegetables, I added any non-bean canned goods the recipe called for – like diced tomatoes. I thought about adding the beans as well, but my Google search didn’t turn up anything definitive about how canned beans would survive in the freezer. They would probably be fine, but I ultimately decided not to include them.

Then I added the spices and whatever meat the recipe called for. I purposefully didn’t choose any recipes that required searing or cooking the meat in any way first. Mostly because the only dishes I wanted to do were the cutting board, measuring utensils and a knife.

At this point, I sealed the bags and added any notes about how to assemble them. Add so much water and so many cans of beans. Cook on what temperature for how long. Then I put them in the freezer and called it good.

The only other thing I did was set aside a special place in my pantry for the ingredients that would be added later (the cans of beans, chicken broth, etc) so I wouldn’t accidentally use them in other dishes.

The Mama and Baby Love blog mentioned that she would let her bag defrost for about 30 minutes on the counter before adding to the crockpot. I’m guessing this is because the whole thing freezes into a solid mass and it needs a little time to soften before maneuvering it into the crockpot.

Edited to add: I found I could defrost the freezer bags in the microwave more quickly and effectively than leaving them lying out on the counter. I would soften them just enough to break up the contents into four big chunks that would fit into my crockpot. The bags should be used within 2-3 months of making them. The additional frost growth on the vegetables waters down the contents too much.

If you try this, comment and let me know how it works for you!

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28 Comments

Filed under knocked up, recipes

28 responses to “Crockpot Freezer Meals in a Bag

  1. Catherine

    I saw this and was interested but haven’t had time yet. You need to check out Crock Pot Girls. They are on facebook and have tons of yummy recipes. Wish I could bring you a meal after Henry arrives.

    • I wish you could bring me a meal too – you’re a great cook! :)

      The whole idea works well with my monthly shopping trips since I can chop up and freeze the vegetables I buy before they go bad. I’m excited to see how they all turn out!

  2. I’m excited to hear how yours turn out – I’ve been scouring Pinterest for crockpot meals too, and have also shied away from freezer meals because I envision mushy food being the result. But the combination of freezer meals into the crockpot… this I can dig.

    I’ll let you know if I try any of the ones you mentioned or find other goodies. :)

    • Cool! I’m trying to hang on to all the ones I’ve done until after Henry is born so it may be a few weeks until I can edit this post with an update on how it goes on my end.

      I have made the vegetarian chili and red beans and rice recipes before. We really enjoy them (though I add diced tomatos to the red bean recipe).

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  4. sarah

    I am doing my research right now for freezable crock pot recipes and came across you blog. I use my crock pot all the time. I am a single mom with three kids and two jobs. I never have a problem with “mushy” crock pot foods but I have never froze mine before hand. I am going to use these recipes you have suggested and I will keep you posted. Good luck with the new baby!

    • Hi, Sara! I’m glad you found me! I don’t have a problem with crockpot food either – I meant that frozen casserole meals tend to feel kind of mushy when you defrost and reheat them – but I’m thinking freezing raw frozen vegetables for the crockpot shouldn’t have that problem.

      I’m super impressed with your being a single mom with THREE kids and TWO jobs and obviously working hard to feed your kids well. I would be very tempted to serve cardboard box pizza and fishsticks every night!

      Please let me know how your freezer bags turn out! I’m holding off on using mine until after the baby arrives.

  5. Sarah Jo

    How do you go to the grocery store only once? And better yet, where do you put all the food?! Looking forward to the update. I’ve loved how Pinterest has revamped my cooking, but haven’t delved into any freezer meals.

  6. Deb

    I think I would freeze the contents in a crockpot bag that way you can just drop it in

      • I haven’t tried this, but I read somewhere that the crockpot bags don’t hold up if you freeze them in there, something about the sides leaking in the crockpot when you cook them after freezing. However, they put all the food in the crockpot bags and put the crockpot bags into a freezer ziploc bag and they ended up fine.

  7. sylvia

    Do you need to blanch the veggies before freezing them?

  8. becky hartwell

    Did you like the healthy mama BBQ chicken once it was cooked? I am planning to do it as a crockpot freezer meal with our mops group but havn’t tried it yet and don’t want to make something that turns out not being delicious….

    • Honestly, no. The BBQ sauce didn’t turn out quite right and it wasn’t to my taste and, while I am usually a big fan of vegetables, these ended up kind of gross. My family’s favorites of the recipes I listed above were the vegetarian chili and the sweet and spicy chili.

  9. Laura

    There is a cook book out there, I think it’s called ” the big cook”. It is set up to make large quantity meals for freezing.

    Basically you get four moms together. You spend all day cutting, pealing, opening cans etc. but at the end of the day you leave with at least a dozen home cooked meals for your family. It’s a great time!

  10. Katrina

    I’ve made beef barley soup mix and beef stew mix for the freezer. I uses the seal a meal bags which keep it even fresher. I’ve given them as gifts when people have had babies, hospitilizations, death in the family,etc. when you’re getting a lot of food dropped off, it’s often nice to have something to cook when your fridge isn’t full of leftovers.. I travel quite a bit for work, so it’s nice for me to know that a healthy meal for my family is waiting in the freezer (though they have to remember to take it out…)

  11. becky : )

    i just cant thank you all enough, we have some in our congregation that have such a difficult time maintaining there house because of age and sickness and they have know family here. i was going to cook meals and take over every week, but this is a great solution to my problem, im going over there today to set up a menue plan. thank you, thank you

  12. Adrianne

    I am interested in knowing how the Chilli with sweet pototoes turned out. Can you freeze the sweet potatoes?

    • I am very curious about this recipe too.. I love sweet potatoes and the idea of a vegetarian chili sounds great.. would you blanch the sweet potatoes before you put them in the freezer?

      • I didn’t because it was an extra step I didn’t want to take. We did eat it not too many weeks after I prepared it so not much flavor was lost. You can blanch them though if you’re thinking they’ll be in the freezer for more than 4-6 weeks.

    • It turned out well though we did eat it within 3-4 weeks of being frozen.

  13. Sue

    I just take out of the freezer whatever I plan on making the next day and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It dumps out of the bag pretty well by morning and would be safer than sitting out on the counter or microwaving plastic. :)

  14. Anita

    I just prepare double sometimes when I am cooking. Freeze it for later. You can put it in a crockpot bag and double bag it in a freezer bag. I prefer to thaw in the fridge overnight. I also fully prepare a few meals for cooking in the oven. Lasagne and Pot pies that I make from scratch. I just don’t bake them till I defrost them.Wrap them well and they keep for A few months.

  15. I’ve heard if you throw in frozen items into a crockpot thats a no-no cause it can grown mold. Ick!
    I put my bags in the fridge the night before and in the am it hsould be all thawed and no chance of mold…

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