getting organized- a whole month’s worth of meals via crockpot freezer cooking

I have to admit, I am a little bit overwhelmed right now.

May is normally a busy month for us (mother’s day plus Burke’s birthday, Keadryn’s birthday, Drew’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, & Adam’s mom’s birthday). Add in graduation (and the grad party of the century), Burke’s birthday party (an Angry Birds brunch this weekend), the graduation trip of a lifetime (Dubai, Greece and Turkey here we come!) and planning for a month’s worth of COLORFUL (wink, wink) goodness for the blog while we’re away, and life feels, well, overwhelming.

My sweet friend Alicia posted about getting organized last month and I was inspired to follow suit.

First stop in my “Get Organized” agenda- figure out meals. And, y’all, this little Freezer-Cooking-and-then-Crock-Pot-Dinners plan has been revolutionary. So far. I mean, we’re three meals in. But it feels revolutionary (and organized- SO organized!). Plus, we have a freezer full of eleven dinners still to eat.

The best part is that, in crossing ‘figure out dinner’ off my daily task list, I free up an hour and a half or so each afternoon. That time is going directly towards whittling the “Burke’s Party,” “Grad Party,” “To Make/Sew Before June,” and “Graduation Trip” lists. Lovely.

Enough chatter- want to see exactly what I did?

First I found five crock pot recipes (most of them have overlapping ingredients which made for easy shopping and chopping). Then I doubled/tripled/quadrupled the recipes (to make three coconut curries, four barbeque chickens, two orange chickens, two hot and spicy peanut chickens, and three man-pleasing chickens), made myself a massive shopping list, and then chopped… and chopped… and chopped. Lastly, I separated everything into fourteen freezer bags, wrote the directions on the bag and froze everything. Easy enough, right?

Want the recipes? They’re all modified from recipes I found around the internet- for more details, just click each link.

Hot and Spicy Braised Peanut Chicken

IN THE BAG- 2 cups onions, 2 cups carrots, 2 cups zucchini, 1 red pepper, 1/2 t grated lime peel, 2 T lime juice, 2 T soy sauce, 2 T flour, 4 garlic cloves, 2 lbs. cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast.

TO COOK- Dump contents of bag in slow cooker. Cover with 3/4 cup chicken broth and 3 T peanut butter (whisked together). Cook on low for 5-6 hours. For the last five minutes, add in 1 can of coconut milk and 1 bag of frozen peas.

TO SERVE- To make it spicy, add 1/2 teaspoon of red curry paste before serving (I kept our unspicy for the kiddos). Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro. Serve over rice.

Coconut Chicken Curry by Martha Stewart

IN THE BAG- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 2 lbs. of chopped butternut squash, 2 medium onions,chopped, 8 minced garlic cloves, 1 oz fresh ginger, 2 T curry powder,1 t ground coriander, 1 t ground cumin, coarse salt

TO COOK- Add the contents of the bag and a can of coconut milk to a slow cooker and cook on low all day. 25 minutes before serving, add another can of coconut milk and a bag of frozen peas.

TO SERVE- Garnish with chopped cashews and cilantro.

BBQ Chicken adapted from this recipe by Mama and Baby Love

IN THE BAG- 2 cups sweet potatoes, 2 cups red and green bell pepper, 1 cup carrots, 2 cups onion, 3 cups zucchini, 2 T flour, 1.5 lbs chicken, 2 cloves garlic, 1 t salt

TO COOK- Dump bag plus one bottle BBQ sauce into crock pot, cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Orange Chicken

IN THE BAG- 2 cups carrots, 2 cups bell peppers, 1 lb cubed boneless skinless chicken breasts, 3 cloves garlic, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, 8 oz. orange juice concentrate (orange pineapple will work as well)

TO COOK- Cook on low in crock pot, 4 to 6 hours

TO SERVE- Garnish with clementine slices (use 4 clementines) or mandarin oranges (two cans) and green onions (two, chopped). Serve on rice. Stir fried veggies make a great side.

Man-Pleasing Chicken modified from Witty in the City

IN THE BAG- 2 cups red and green bell pepper, 1 cup carrots, 2 cups onion, 3 cups zucchini, 2 T flour, 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 2 cloves garlic, 1 t salt

TO COOK- Add the contents of the bag with 3/4 cup of dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1 T of rice wine vinegar to a foil lined glass pan. Cook at 450 until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve.

Like I said- absolutely revolutionary!

 

And for more freezer crockpot cooking check out Freezer Crockpot Cooking Round 2

and Freezer Crockpot Cooking, Garden Edition.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I love that you did this. I was actually planning to do a post on this very thing soon. Before I got pregnant I knew I had to make some freezer meals or my family would starve while I was too sick to cook. It worked out great. My husband always had dinner. There were always left overs, so my son always had lunch for the next day. I never had to cook during my first trimester.

    Now that this baby is almost here, I am planning to do this again so I don’t have to do much cooking shortly after she joins our family.

    Well it sounds like May is going to be pretty busy for you. If you ever have a free day and feel the need to bring the kids to the zoo, give me a call. We would love to meet you there!

    • Kirstin says

      Angela- I wish I would’ve been smart like you. My poor family has had a rough time during my pregnancies! I love this idea for a new baby too- genius! :)
      And we’d love to zoo with y’all! Even with the craziness, our mornings still look pretty much the same- zoo, museum, Ikea, running. :) We’d love to hang out with you!

    • Ammie Wallace says

      Do you happen to have your shopping list? This is the first “Frozen Crock pot” meal plan I have come across that the recipes sound so yummy! I am excited to try doing this now!

      • Kirstin says

        Ammie- it’ll take some looking, but there is a shopping list that someone else shared in the comments. :)
        Good luck with your first time putting these together! I made one a freezer crockpot meal tonight, actually… it’s been such a great thing for our family. :)

    • says

      Aww, I’m saddened that you had to do your own meal planning for times in your life like this, illness and deliver of a child. BUT so excited that you thought ahead! I’m so blessed to have a large church “family” and blood family that bring me meals when I’ve been super ill for a month and with the birth of each baby. For about 2 weeks each time.

    • Kirstin says

      It IS busy- feels crazy right now. All good stuff- just a lot of it. :)
      I was so excited to see your name on here- you girls were one of my SNAP highlights- I just loved having the chance to hang out with you! :)

  2. Leigh Anne says

    You soooo read my mind! I’ve been meaning to research some crockpot recipes to make-ahead. On those days that I do start something in the crockpot, the afternoon & eve seem to go sooooo much smoother. And, I get in more time to do what I want to do…genious! Thanks for the great recipes…looks like my fam would love every one :)

    • Kirstin says

      Leigh Anne, thanks for the sweet words. We haven’t tried all of the recipes yet, but the ones we’ve made have turned out great! And I’m totally with you- I love crockpot dinner days! :)

  3. says

    First off, TOTALLY jealous about your trip. My sister lives in Dubai too and I’m DYING to see her and her fam (webcams are nice but still leaves something missing.)
    Second, I’ve got a busy month coming…not crazy busy like you…I think some freeze crockpot meals might be coming our way! Thanks for the tips!

    • Kirstin says

      Karen- your sister lives in Dubai??? Did I already know that???? I feel like you and I have a special bond. :) Thank goodness for Skype, but the time difference is killing me lately. I feel like I never get to see my nieces (they’re always in bed when my sis and I find time that we’re both us).
      And let me know if you do the freezer meals- it’s fabulous, I tell you! :)

  4. Melanie McClendon says

    I love the ideas about having a freezer full of meals! Makes planning it so much easier! Do you by an chance have a shopping list of all the groceries you used? Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      It is making life so much easier.
      You know, I started to type up my shopping list to share, but I had a bunch of the stuff on hand (most of the veggies, actually), so it wouldn’t be that helpful. :)

      • Sara Wells says

        I typed up the grocery list for myself…here it is:

        MEAT
        4.5 lbs. cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast.

        5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
        VEGGIES/ FRUIT
        6 C onions + 2 medium chopped ( about 5)
        6 cups carrots (about 12 or 1 bag)
        8 Cups Zucchini ( about )
        2 lbs of chopped butternut squash (about )
        2 C sweet potatoes
        1 Red pepper +5 cups
        4 C green bell pepper + 1 C
        2bag frozen peas
        1 lime
        2 Cans mandarin oranges or use 4 clementines
        1 bunch cilantro

        SPICES
        19 garlic cloves
        1 oz fresh ginger
        6 TBS flour
        2 T curry powder
        1 t ground coriander
        Rosemary (to garnish)
        1 t ground cumin
        3 T salt
        1/2 t pepper

        SAUCES/LIQUIDS
        2 TBS soy sauce
        3/4 C chicken broth
        3 Can coconut milk
        1 bottle BBQ sauce
        3/4 Cup maple syrup
        1 TBS of rice wine vinegar
        3/4 Cup Dijon mustard
        8 oz. orange juice concentrate (orange pineapple will work as well)

        EXTRA ITEMS
        1 bag rice
        1 handful cashews & Peanuts
        3 TBS Peanut butter

        • Alicia says

          I’m assuming this grocery list is for one set of each meal. Correct? Not doubled, tripled, etc.

          I’m so excited to try this! June is our crazy busy month.

          • Kirstin says

            I think that’s right Alicia… confirmation anyone???
            When I had everything doubled and tripled, I had to buy pounds and pounds and pounds of chicken.
            Good luck in your crazy month! :)

          • says

            Looks like this grocery list is just for one set of all the recipes given. You’d have to double or triple the ingredients in the list if you want more than one meal of each. :)

            (Just confirming…was making the grocery list on my own before seeing this post! Thank you, Sara!)

        • Kelli says

          THANK YOU for all the work you put into this to give us a list!!! Quick question, in the fruits/veggies section, it states ’1 red pepper + 5 cups’. Not exactly sure how to decipher this. Can you explain?

        • Kari says

          OMG thank you. I am so kitchen lazy and a terrible cook. These recipes and this grocery shopping list have saved my life. Can’t wait to try them.

  5. Deb H. says

    This makes life so much easier. Last month, I went to my son and daughter-in-love’s and made 34 freezer meals for them in two days. They did the menu planning and shopping. I did the cooking and cleanup. Last week, I made 10 more freezer meals for my daughter. I did everything on that one! I guess it’s my bad…she doesn’t cook! This is such a wonderful way for me to help and encourage my kids. Your meals look great and I may have to use some of them on the next go round.

  6. Holly says

    Great idea! The recipes look fabulous and without any modifying, will be things my family will eat. Can’t wait to start putting my shopping list together. Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      I’ve just been putting them in as is. :) I think the frozen doesn’t matter because they cook all day???

      • says

        Thanks so much for asking the question about whether or not you put everything in frozen or have to defrost first. I was reading all of the lovely comments looking for that exact answer. Can’t wait to try this!

        • Kirstin says

          Sarah-
          Now that I’ve been doing this for a year and a half, I should probably say that I’ve done both. If I remember, I put the meal in the fridge for a day first and then in the crockpot. If not, I put it in the crockpot frozen… Good luck!
          kirstin

          • angela says

            I just found your website today. Linked from moneysavingmom. Love your recipes but had the same question. Thawed or frozen? Looking forward to joining the freezer cooking moms! This will be my first try!

          • Kirstin says

            Hey Angela, I usually thaw the meals for a day in the fridge before cooking them. However, you can put them right in the crockpot frozen. I feel like they turn out better when I let them thaw, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

    • SUSIE says

      Not an obvious..cause i was scrolling thru to see if i saw this exact question..thanks for asking and thanks kristin for answering…i can’t wait to do this!!!1

      • Laurel says

        I wondered about putting the raw veggies in the freezer…we used to ‘blanch’ veggies before freezing. Do they turn to mush? or are they firm & identifiable? These look delish & I will be trying them for all the soon to be new moms at our church. thanks!

        • Kirstin says

          Glad you saw the answer, Laurel! Also, I had some bags of frozen veggies on hand and those turned out to work great (maybe the nice people at Green Giant blanch theirs first? Whatever the case, those worked great!).

    • Jami Whaley says

      That’s what I was looking for. I suppose the bag could thaw in the fridge the night before and work as well. Excited about trying these delicious looking recipes!!

  7. kristen says

    Question – (sorry if I’ve missed something) – I’m a bit confused. There are 5 recipes, but they’re separated into 14 freezer bags? What am I missing?

    I love this idea, and the recipes looks so yummy! I’ll be having my 3rd kiddo in about 6 weeks (or earlier!) so this will definitely help out. :)

    Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Kristen- you’re not missing anything- I doubled/tripled all of the recipes (actually, I made four of the bbq chicken). :) I’ll add that to the post. :)
      kirstin

      • renee says

        Since you’ve subdivided each recipe into smaller bags are the “to cook” directions for each small bag or for the whole recipe? In other words, do we also need to divide the “to cook” ingredients? I looked at the original recipes but am still uncertain. Please advise. :)

  8. says

    Next time I’ll try your recipes. But you finally inspired me to do this too! It took a lot more chopping than I could have even expected!

  9. says

    You must feel so good to have all those meals in the freezer at the ready. And by the sound of all your activities in May you are really going to need those meals!
    You have inspired me to give this a try.
    My DIL is due with her first baby at the end of the month.
    I’m thinking that she could use some of these quick and easy meals in her freezer!

  10. Sarah says

    Have you tried all of these recipes before, especially the orange chicken. I’d like to know if it turned out well, and not watery.

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Sarah- I should put a disclaimer on there- we hadn’t tried ANY of the recipes (though, now we’ve tried the BBQ, the curry and the man-pleasing chicken all with good reviews). Most of the recipes said to add corn starch or flour if the recipes were watery. If one of the recipes doesn’t turn out, I’ll update the post. :)

  11. Kelli Greer says

    Sounds easy! I had a question. I’ve used those bags before and had a problem with freezer burn. Even made sure all of the air was out before dealing. Any suggestions?

    • Kirstin says

      Kelli, the first several I used weren’t even frozen (just used them for the fridge). And they’ll only be in the freezer for a few weeks max (planning on using all of them in the next few weeks). I’ll update the post if I have problems.

  12. Karen says

    The best thing when making these “chop all day” recipes in advance is my vacuum pack machine! Not only does the food not get freezer burn, but they are flatter in my freezer! Which means more “meals in a bag” in the freezer!
    Also works great for all the left overs! Vac Pack smaller portions already cooked for lunches or after school snacks

    • Sue says

      Another great way to ‘vacuum pack’ the bags is to squeeze most air out and close all the way but leave room for a straw and suck all the air out. I’ve never had any trouble squeezing my air out and making them flat packs by hand, but this works for those who do.

    • Kirstin says

      LOVE this! The curry is our fav so far for when you try this batch of recipes. :) I’ll have to try yours too (love it that they’re low cal). :)

  13. Tiffany says

    Do you happen to have your shopping list still? I have a hard time converting cups of veggies to pieces…This is a brilliant idea.

    • Kirstin says

      I had most of the produce on hand, so my shopping list didn’t include most of the veggies. I remember that I had a bag of onions, a couple of butternut squashes and six or seven bell peppers here, though (I bought more bell peppers, I think).
      Sorry that isn’t nearly as helpful as it could be- haha! :)

  14. Sara Wells says

    are the amounts you gave us the trippled amounts or the regular amounts and then you trippled them later? thanks…

    • Kirstin says

      Sara, the amounts that I gave are for ONE recipe- so everything still needs to be doubled/tripled/quadrupled. :)

      • Sara Wells says

        thanks! I tried the BBQ one tonight, didn’t really like the flavors though :( but part of it might be that I put it on HIGH while I went to work not LOW! oops…haha

        • Kirstin says

          Sara- I did that the first time too! I thought is was the recipe, but we tried it again a couple of nights ago (on the right setting) and it was great (I actually put it in in the afternoon and only cooked it for four hours the second time- worked great). Try it again and let me know!

  15. Taryn says

    This is awesome! We’re planning a long driving trip this summer, and I was going to take a crock-pot to do some dinners in the hotel room to save some cash. This way, I’ll just throw a few frozen dinners in the cooler and take them with us. One word of warning– be careful about putting a fully frozen chunk of stuff in the crock. I’ve cracked the ceramic liner doing that– the thermal stress between the frozen contents and the hot exterior seems to be too much. You’ll probably want to thaw the bag in the frig for a day or so.

    • Kirstin says

      Taryn- what a great idea for your trip! I never would’ve considered that.
      Also, thanks for the word of warning. I think all of the recipes listed have added liquid/sauce (I haven’t made the hot and spicy peanut chicken yet, though), so not to worry about a frozen chunk. However, I didn’t know that at all, so thanks for the warning. :)

  16. says

    hey sweets :) did you leave today!?! i just pinned this and realize you so sweetly shouted me out and i never commented to thank you! thanks, sweet friend. hope it’s all going smoothly…i know you’re hitting the road soon if you haven’t already…

    xo,
    a

  17. says

    So each bag is to feed 2 adults and a couple of small children? I have 6 kids 3-14 and the oldest 4 eat like horses (though you wouldn’t know it to look at them). Did you end up with much in the way of leftovers from them? I’m trying to think if I’d double this or maybe even triple it for each meal.

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Dielle! I would triple the recipes probably if you have big eaters. I’ve been making rice and a giant salad for each one and relying heavily on the sides for filler.
      If you make these, would you let me know how the portions end up for your family? I think it’d be great to share that info with people. :)

  18. Andrea says

    Thanks for these recipes! What a great idea! I have had problems with freezing vegetables without blanching first (carrots turning black, etc.) Did you blanch any of the veggies or just freeze them all raw? Have you had any problem with spoiling?

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Andrea… you know, I just chopped them all and put them in and haven’t had any trouble at all with the veggies. We did eat everything within a month, though (several of them didn’t even make it to the freezer- just went from the fridge to the crock pot, actually). I wonder if that made a difference?

  19. Carley says

    Wonderful recipes! I am excited to try them. Do you know how many servings each recipe is for? 4 per recipe? Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Carley- I’d say they serve around 4- maybe 3 if you’re big eaters. I’ve been making a big salad (and usually rice) to go with each one to stretch the ‘main dish’ a little further. :)

    • Kirstin says

      No! I will have to check that out! I was just thinking that I’d love to do this every month or two and wanted to try out more recipes. :)

  20. Betsy says

    It looks like you put broccoli in one of your recipe’s (from the picture), but it’s not listed on any ingredient list. Did I miss something or does something just look like broccoli?

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Betsy- I ended up adding a bag of frozen mixed veggies to the bags (just spreading it around) to boost the veggie count! :) You’re not seeing things. :)

  21. Stacey says

    Yum! Can’t wait to try these! Thank you for sharing! Did you end up freezing the recipe with the sweet potatoes in it? I thought they would turn black like regular potatoes do…

    • Kirstin says

      Stacey- I ended up using butternut squash for all of the sweet potato requirements (I had pounds and pounds on hand). That turned out great, though. :)

  22. Heather says

    Ok, can I get some crockpot help, please? I tried the hot and spicy braised peanut chicken and it was just so-so. I don’t think it’s the ingredients because I love all of them. It just lacked flavor. But I’ve found that anything I cook in my crockpot lacks flavor. The only way I didn’t follow the recipe to a T was I put a little less chicken in, but I would think that would only enhance the flavor as less meat would get more flavor. Help!

    • Kirstin says

      Heather- I didn’t try the hot and spicy yet, so I can’t compare notes. Do you like curry? The coconut curry recipe is my favorite that we’ve tried yet. :)

      • kk says

        Made hot spicy peanut braised chicken…need to add 4 teaspoons of the curry and added the ginger the original recipe called for – also added more soy sauce and peanut butter – delicious!

        • Kirstin says

          KK- I think the major complaint on the crock pot meals is that they’re bland- I love this help on making it flavorful! :)

  23. Jill says

    Thank you!
    Easy, freezer crockpot meals that don’t include tomatoes in any form. Do you know how hard that is to find? I desperately want to use the crockpot more often but can’t find a lot of recipes my picky tomato-free family will eat. Thanks to you, I’m one step closer.

  24. says

    we are on our third recipe today! The orange chicken was completely not a winner, so we won’t make it again. The coconut chicken was amazing, and I will definitely be adding it to my regular rotation. It seemed to make a lot, as just my husband & I ate it, and we probably got six-eight portions from it.

    Tonight is Man-Pleasing Chicken night. My son gobbled up his, and my husband & I, who eat later, have been picking from the pan, so I worry this may only be one (very big!) meal. Delicious!

    I love that all of these were chicken, because I mostly do vegetarian cooking, we don’t eat beef & pork, and this made a handy way to incorporate more chicken into our meals without me having to think much.

    thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      Emily, thanks for the feedback! The coconut curry was my favorite hands down. It’ll make it into my monthly rotation for sure!
      And I made a couple of orange chickens and a couple of the bbq chickens and thought they were a mixed bag. I need to tweak a little.
      Any other favorite crock pot recipes to share? I want to do another one of these posts!

    • Kirstin says

      Kate, we do have a deep freezer, but we didn’t use it for these. Since they’re in ziplocs, they fit pretty well in the regular freezer. :)

  25. Brooke P says

    What size crockpot do you have? Do these recipes feed families of four or do you need to double them? Sorry for the questions…I am just getting into the blogging scene, but I am learning a lot from all of the busy mothers out there!! Thanks for the great ideas….this will save a ton!! (we eat out to much out of convienence ;(

    • Kirstin says

      I think my crockpot is 5 quarts (just a normal, average size- not bigger than usual, but not teeny either).
      Also, all of the recipes feed a family of four for sure!
      Love it that you found us. :)

  26. MaryG says

    I am so excited about this. I have already made my shopping list and ready to go to the store tomorrow. But I was wondering if you had any other recipes beside chicken ones. I would love to try these w beef pork fish and whatever else there is out there. Thank you for my now Organized Dinners.

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Mary- you could definitely try these with pork, beef or chicken (if you do, let me know how they turn out). Also, if you’re wanting more recipe ideas, I love searching around pinterest for freezer crockpot recipes. :)

  27. libby says

    I love your recipes!!! They are different than what I usually find and awesome!! I was wondering how you all put your crock pot on and leave for work, errands etc all day and not have it burn? Is it safe to put the stuff in the morning and then have a timer turn it on?

    Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Libby- I usually do stir everything a couple times during the day (the BBQ chicken burned the first time because I either left it on for too long or the crockpot was turned up too high). After that, I’ve been putting the crockpot on it’s lowest setting (low- 10 hours is what it says). I think the meals would do fine without the periodic checking in or stirring. In fact, I’m planning on making one today- maybe I’ll try just leaving it.
      If you try it out (dumping them in and leaving them all day), would you let me know if it works for you????
      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  28. Krista Dahm says

    Kirstin this is great! I have been wanting to do this for some time. I just returned to work full time :( It is a BIG adjustment and dinner time has become the most difficult and I need to start organizing myself and planning ahead. I cannot wait to try this. I am going to make these this weekend! I hope you are all well :)

    • Kirstin says

      Thanks friend! It seriously makes life SO MUCH EASIER. :) Also, check in Monday for another batch of recipes (tried a different set for this month!). :)
      So glad you stopped by (did you see Mary and Rashid’s burrito bar? ;))

  29. says

    Wow what a great time saver. I am going to try and do this soon! Cooking ahead is such a good idea. My husband works 18 hours a day so I mostly cook for one and so I am going to have lots of left overs, helps me from eating a lot of junk food if I cook less!

    • Kirstin says

      Amanda, totally with you!!! 18 hours a day is A TON (is he in dental school by chance?). :) We have long days around here too and these keep me and the kiddos from having cereal for dinner. :)

  30. says

    This is great. Anything I can do to save time prepping in the kitchen is wonderful for me. I do not use my crockpot enough bc I cant get organized but this may help :) thank you!

    • Kirstin says

      Jenn, totally with you (if crockpot meals are just as much work, it isn’t helpful, right???). :) It’s so nice to get it all done at once! :) Thanks for stopping by…

  31. Barbara says

    I love the idea of this BUT I am curious to know how safe is it really to put raw meat in with vegetables for such a length of time?

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Barbara- since everything is frozen until you use it and then gets cooked in the crockpot all day when you pull it out, I think the danger is minimal. I haven’t kept any of the frozen meals for longer than a few weeks though.

  32. says

    Hey Kirst, I just saw a link to this article from money-saving mom and thought I would say hi! I’ve been dreaming about trying freezer meals so glad you have some good ones to share! I’ve been using emeals.com and it is pretty awesome too…have a fun month! Xo

    • Kirstin says

      Ruth, I LOVE it that you found us on MSM!!! :) Try the curry and the rosemary chicken- they are YUMMY (still haven’t tried the others yet!). :) So fun to see your name pop up! XOXO!

  33. dina says

    my question is- how long do all of these bags stay good in the freezer? I seem to be hesitant about freezer meals because i have no idea how long they remain good!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Dina… I wish I could be more helpful, but we eat them within the month, so I don’t know if they last longer than that. I think the more chicken heavy ones would do better for longer (the honey rosemary chicken from round 2 that I posted Monday doesn’t have any veggies in it), but I am nervous about leaving the veggies in the freezer for very long.
      If you try it and figure it out, let me know, ok?

  34. Katie says

    These look great! I’ve been doing freezer meals for ages, but haven’t done much with the crockpot. I’m wondering if you have trouble with the skins of the bell peppers? Mine always seem to get really tough or come off in peels which I think are just… nasty. Does the zucchini come through freezer and then crockpot okay? Haven’t had much luck with that in the freezer either. Thought I’d ask in case there’s a trick, or maybe you just need the right recipe!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Kate- I haven’t had trouble with any of the veggies yet. My theory is that we eat them so quickly that the freezer doesn’t have much time to do its work??? If you try it and still have trouble, will you let me know?

  35. says

    Thanks for the ideas – wondering if you put this all in the crockpot to cook frozen, or if you defrost first? Trying to get an idea for if your cooking times are based on thawed or frozen. Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      All of the cooking times are based on starting frozen. If you thaw it first, you can put it in the crockpot for less time on low instead of high. :)

  36. Hannah L says

    Hubby’s concern…is it safe cooking chicken from raw in a crockpot? He’s worked in food service for years and seems like it would keep in the “danger zone” for too long?

  37. Carla says

    Everything looks good and I’m hitting the store tomorrow, but first a question. In some of the pictures, the bags look like they contain broccoli. Did you substitute broccoli in any of the recipes and if so, which ones worked best?

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Carla- I added broccoli to the BBQ chicken (I added some frozen veggies from a bag and there was broccoli in the mix). I’m not sure I would recommend it, which is why it isn’t in the recipe. :) Very observant, friend! :)

  38. says

    love this! and I love the idea of doing this now, while all those veggies are in season, and saving them for colder days ahead!

  39. heidi says

    hey i’m sure i probably missed it in the comments, but how many servings does each bag make? this is my first attempt at freezer meals, i’m hoping it goes well!! thanks for the recipes

  40. Gen Le says

    I just started working full time and have two girls, 8 years and 5 months, and a husband that works nights, I am so glad I found you!! I have three made, the coconut chicken curry for tonight, and the Santa Fe chicken and honey rosemary chicken for later this week, I can’t wait! Just one question, how many servings are there per recipe?

    • Kirstin says

      Gen- your life sounds crazy (ours is that way too). Having dinners done is such a hue help in the chaos, right? I use the serving size listed for our family of 4 (usually with a big batch of couscous/rice and a big salad). Sometimes we have leftovers (not of the honey rosemary, though- haha). :)

      • Gen Le says

        Thank you so much! Having one prep day and dinners for the week is going to be great. I can’t wait to try them all.

  41. Sara says

    Thanks for doing this. I am really excited about trying it! I was wondering if anyone has tried the Man Pleasing Chicken in the Crock Pot instead the Oven. Also, did you put the mustard mixture in the bag and freeze it or just put it on right before you cooked it? Thanks!

  42. Kara says

    I’m so excited about this! I have all these meals prepped and in the freezer. Just one question, anyone have an estimated cooking time for the man-pleasing chicken?

    • Kirstin says

      Hey love- are you doing it in the oven? I think people have done it in both the crock pot and the oven, but I’ve only done it in the oven (defrost in the fridge the day before and then bake for 45-ish minute [mine took a little longer than that]).
      Hope that helps! :)

  43. Anika Ferguson says

    I’m trying the coconut curry chicken tonight. The Martha Stewart recipe you adapted this from doesn’t have the butternut squash in it. After adding 2 lbs of cubed squash my crock pot is FULL! I can’t imagine tying to double this recipe. We have a large family (6 kids) and I am sure this will be enough. I am going to serve it over jasmine rice though. I’m looking forward to leftovers.

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Anika- how did it turn out?
      Yep, the squash is an addition (there are several modifications, actually). The curry is GREAT leftover. Hope you guys enjoyed it. :)

  44. jamie says

    I want to prep the orange chicken but have frozen chicken breasts…any suggestions on what to do? Do I prep everything else and just throw the frozen breasts in the crockpot and not cut up?
    Thanks!

  45. Kacey says

    Just found this through Pinterest, and was wondering if the ingredients just get put straight in the bag or do you mix stuff together then put it in the bag?
    Thanks for the great idea!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Kacey- I just put everything straight into the bag (it mixes a little before you freeze it and then, of course, mixes in the crockpot). :)

  46. Kathy says

    Thanks for the recipes. I read somewhere – sorry I can’t give credit where credit is due, but instead of ziploc bags, put everything in one of those crock pot liner bags, then right into your crock pot! Gen-i-ous!!!

  47. Amber says

    I read this a couple of months back and immediately went out and bought all of the ingredients and froze all of the recipes. Afterwards, I came back and read the reviews. We’ve tried all of the recipes, except for the Orange chicken. I’ve been saving that one because some of the reviews said that it wasn’t all that great. I tweaked it a little. I added some of the sauce that it cooked in to a saucepan, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar and red pepper flakes and brought it to a simmer. I then added some cornstarch and water and let it thicken for a minute. I chopped up the chicken and put it in the sauce and coated it, served it over rice and it was excellent! I will definitely make it again. We have now completed our freezer meals, so I’m looking for some new recipes. Thank you so much, these were so simple and perfect for my busy family!

    • Kirstin says

      Amber, thanks so much for the input. I will have to try that with the Orange Chicken! :)
      Glad these are working well for you!

    • Liz says

      Out of curiousity, did you cook the orange chicken in the crockpot then alter the sauce after cooking, or was this just a different way of cooking the recipe?

      • Kirstin says

        Hey Liz, yes, just a different way to try this recipe. However, honestly, many times I just make the ‘freezer crockpot’ meals in the oven- it seems to work just as well for us.

  48. lisa says

    I have a question for you. I’ve made two of the meals from this post, froze them, and have been using them this Fall (I just made them a month or so ago, so they haven’t been frozen that long). I leave them in the crockpot for 6 or 7 hours on lo and while they smell great, we get them out and they are so bland. Do you have any thoughts?? I haven’t been tasting them along the way simply because I don’t know at what point the chicken is cooked, but I’m disappointed and wondering if it’s my crockpot – could it be overcooking things?? Any suggestions would be appreciated because I love these recipes and the smell lovely!!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Lisa. That’s happened to me too. I have started cooking them for shorter (4 hours or so) and they seem to do fine, done-wise.
      Also, sometimes at the end, I add more of whichever spices are in the dish (more orange juice, for the orange chicken for example, or more honey, rosemary and balsamic for the Honey Rosemary chicken. Garlic salt seems to help as well.
      If you try anything else that works, will you let me know?

      • Karyn says

        Same here Lisa. Adding ingredients has helped the flavor when I tried it on the BBQ Chicken. Hey Kirstin! I didn’t realize that you were the one commenting on the post I referenced. I feel like I should thank you for your dedication to the success of the recipes! You seem genuinely interested in the results of these recipes! Thank you!

        • Kirstin says

          Karyn- glad the extra ingredients help you too…
          And thanks for your sweet comment. I want this to be something that helps people (not something burdensome, if that makes sense). Plus, I’d love tips for my own crockpot cooking! :)

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Karla- it says in the post how many repeats I made (two of one, three of another, four of another, etc.) to equal the fifteen meals. :)

  49. Anne says

    Oh my God ! That’s fucking brillant ! That takes so less place than cooking the whole thing and then freezing it in tuperware. Plus, your meal is fresh cooked. I love this idea !

  50. Elizabeth says

    Love this idea, but one of my 4 kiddos does not eat beef, pork, or chicken, so I’m often stuck making two meals (tonight was chicken and fish) or going all vegetarian (which is fine with me). I’d love to see more meatless slow-cooker recipes.

  51. says

    These recipes all look great, nice just for those who prepare the meals !! Also very nice for those who consume them as well; sure beats “Meals on Wheels” or Hungry Man (mini)Dinners !!! Economical too !!!

  52. Carrie says

    I love this idea, but I work full time and am away from the house for 9-10 hours every day (longer than the cooking times on these)…wondering if anyone has tried doubling or tripling the recipes, making one batch and then separating and freezing the fully prepared meals? That might take away the concerns about freezing fresh veggies and/or putting frozen chicken in the crock pot. would you adjust the cooking times if you were making in batches?

    • Kirstin says

      Hmmm, Carrie, I have no idea. Perhaps someone else has tried something similar and can give you some tips? Anyone????
      And if you figure it out, will you let me know?

    • Jenn says

      I have a KitchenAid slowcooker. Once the cooking time is up it sets the cooker to a ‘keep warm’ setting and stops the cooking so you can be sure the food is kept hot and safe to eat, would that help?

      • Kirstin says

        Jenn, I think that mine might have a ‘warm’ setting as well. Carrie, that might solve your away-from-the-house trouble…
        Thanks for the idea Jenn!

  53. Paula says

    These sound fabulous and I can’t wait to try them. I wonder if chicken is the only protein that will work? Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Kirstin says

      Paula, I have ‘try new crockpot freezer meals’ on my to do list and would love to make some non-chicken ones. :)
      If you try any of these with another protein, would you let me know how they turn out?

  54. Melissa says

    I just put the Braised Peanut Chicken in my crockpot for tonight’s dinner! I substituted green bell pepper for the red pepper and I didn’t have any zucchini.

    I hardly ever use my crockpot, but I need to start using it to make our busy evenings less hectic. I have three kids (two of them are very picky eaters). I am hoping to find some “kid-friendly” recipes to make everyone happy. Thanks for the great recipe ideas!

    • Kirstin says

      Thanks Melissa- mine are both picky too (UGH- it’s tricky, right?). Anyhow, I was just marveling the other night at how much they both love the honey rosemary chicken (recipe in round 2 and in the garden edition). That one makes it into the rotation at least once a month. :) I hope the Peanut Chicken is simiarly popular with your kiddos! :)

  55. Cassandra says

    Hi! This is a genius idea, and I’m actually prepping to buy my first crockpot. I’m a university student and I think if I’m spending 6-9 hrs of my day at school coming home to a nicely cooked meal would be great. Take out is expensive. I was wondering if I could switch the chicken with any type of fish (I’m a pescetarian) like tilapia without compromising the moisture in the cooked fish?

    • Kirstin says

      Cassandra, I love it that you’re trying this- take out IS expensive!
      I haven’t tried any of these with fish… I think the tastes would work, I’m just not sure if fish holds up in the crockpot? Perhaps try it in the coconut curry (it’s kind of soupy already, so if the fish fell apart, it might not matter).
      One request- if you try this, will you let me know the result either way? I’d love to hear how it goes for you…

  56. Michele Mercer says

    I made the BBQ Chicken yesterday and the house smelled amazing! My husband will eat anything, but the BBQ Chicken was not a fan favorite at all. It was a big soupy mess in the pot…I followed the directions but it just wasn’t at all appealing. BUT it made the house smell super tasty! (gotta have a positive somewhere)

    The Man Pleasing chicken is good though. I recommend that one with seasoned baked potato pieces. Gotta make more now.

    First round of CrockPot meals I had 27 meals together. THat didn’t include all the homemade pasta sauce I did. One tub of that made us 5 bags and that lasts for 2 meals. My husband can eat 2-3 people’s worth of food, me just one. But I have two little boys who are beginning to eat foods like crazy and if Daddy’s appetite is any indication, I’m in trouble! These easy meals are great. Now to weed thru what we like and don’t like so I can get a much better shopping list together! (Oh, my 27 meals that fed 4 each bag only cost me $210 total…AWESOME!)

    • Kirstin says

      Michele, the BBQ chicken isn’t our favorite either. I have two theories- 1- I think maybe the vegetables (which I LOVE the idea of) make it too starchy and bland? Or 2- Cooking it for too long makes it less yummy? Either way, we haven’t cracked the code on that one. I think I’d rather just make the BBQ chicken minus veggies (and with homemade BBQ sauce) and then make veggies the day of.

      I just put together a new batch of these with some really good ones (we had taco soup tonight that was great, even for my picky kids and soup-is-not-a-meal husband)… those recipes should be up soon.

      Thanks for the feedback! Keep it coming!

  57. says

    One of the recipes is “Man-Pleasing Chicken”. I can say all of these recipes qualify for the “Man-Pleasing”. This is an awesome idea to prepare the food and freeze it in plastic bags. This really makes cooking dinner a breeze, and would help a busy parent like myself to stick it in and feed the family in a very tastey way.

  58. Wilma Munro says

    Thank you for the information. Sounds great but can these meals be bagged in vacuum sealer bags and sealed?

    • Kirstin says

      Wilma, absolutely. I don’t have a vacuum sealer, but I bet it’d make the meals keep even longer if you did it that way!

  59. Kassadii says

    In round 2 you put the grocery list for the freezer meals which is amazing! But I want to try theses meals! Do you by chance have the list for these freezer meals?

  60. Jasmine says

    This sounds awesome and I want to try it but one thing confuses me. I was told a few years ago that you’re not supposed to freeze veggies without blanching them first as they will lose all their nutrients during freezing otherwise. If that’s true, that would make your recipes less nutritious. Did you ever hear about that rule for veggies? I really want to do these recipes but need them to be nutritious also. :/

  61. Laurie says

    Wondering about the coconut chicken curry… In the bag: requests butternut squash, but the actually recipe doesnt call for it. Has anyone tried? Thanks.

  62. Kara B says

    I just wanted to point out that putting chicken in the same bag as the rest of the ingredients might not be very good. It is a really good way to contaminate the vegtables before everything is properly frozen. I would put the chicken in a separate smaller bag and then you can put it in the bigger one. Contamination may not happen the other way, but if it does then your family could get sick.

  63. Beth says

    Your bbq recipe sounds great! The only thing I’m hesitant about is mixing the veggies with the bbq sauce/meat in the crock pot. Can you still taste the veggies or does it all taste the same? I’m thinking my husband might prefer to be able to taste things separately which would require me to cook the veggies separate from the bbq chicken which then defeats the purpose of this being easy. : -/ Thoughts?

    • Kirstin says

      Beth, honestly, I maybe wouldn’t do it with the veggies in there. It might be just our family, but my husband isn’t a huge fan of the cooked-all-day-bbq-veggies either. :) I just serve the meat and make a side of veggies. Hope that helps!

  64. Beth says

    Thanks Kristin! I’m thinking I’ll still chop all the veggies to go with the BBQ but put them in a separate bag . . . at least it’s still less work on the day we are ready to eat it. But the man pleasing chicken with all the veggies sounds super easy and really good with the veggies mixed in. Can’t wait to try this and many other freezer recipes. We have baby #6 coming in Feb., so I need to figure this out now! : )

  65. Sui says

    The only drawback is, too make plastic bags!!!! I love the idea. I just need to figure out how I can package my food in something other than freezer bags.

  66. Susan LeBlanc says

    This is so nice of everyone who contributed. Thank you especially to you Kristin for starting this :) I can’t wait to try it out.

  67. Suzanne says

    hi! This is fabulous! Question – do you need to thaw the ingredients in the fridge the day before they go into the crockpot? Or can you just put it in frozen?
    :P
    Maybe the answer is obvious but I am not great in the kitchen!!
    :-)

    Thanks!!

    • Kirstin says

      Suzanne, I have tried both and prefer to defrost for a day in the fridge first. It seems to help with the taste. You can put them in frozen, though- there’s just a longer cook time.
      Hope that helps!

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Charlene- each bag serves my family of four (two adults, two kids). If you have big eaters, I would make 1.5 or 2 times the amount for each bag.
      Hope that helps!

  68. Tracy says

    Wow, this looks like an amazing way to cut back on our eating out! My husband is a minister, so we are always out and about, doing something or other for our church!

    I’ve never tired curry on my own before, and the coconut chicken one seems to be everyone’s favourite. I may have to test this out… Thanks for the recipes.

    • Kirstin says

      Tracy, my family loves the coconut curry! Hopefully yours will too…
      And it sounds like freezer crockpot meals would be a great fit for your schedule (ours is similarly crazy!). :)

  69. says

    I’ve done this at the meal prep places – they NEVER put the raw meat in the same bag as the vegetables. You might want to research that. It all gets dumped into the pot together but they don’t start that way. Not sure why, food safety issue?

  70. says

    I am currently making these and so far it’s going pretty good. I didn’t double or triple the ingredients but instead split the given amount in 2 because we are just the two of us… and an infant. I also substituted beef instead of chicken for 2 of the meals and cut the garlic in half for the curry one…only because I’m not a huge garlic fan. This freezer meal thing can be quite difficult to prepare when you have a 3 month old who seems to only want to take 5 minute naps and ” snack” throughout the day rather than a usual feeding!

    • jennifer says

      I feel sill asking, but for the coconut curry chicken recipe,Do I cook the butternut squash first? Do I peel it first? Im trying to just cut it raw and its really really hard. Sorry i have never done anything with butternut squash but mash it. Thanks for your help(:

  71. Charlotte says

    VERY disappointed in these meals! We just made 2 of them (Hot & Spicy Braised Peanut Chicken and the Man Pleasing Chicken). AWFUL! The Man Pleasing one really just tastes like mustard. 3/4 cup is a ridiculous amount! Sad that i still have a 3rd meal in the freezer that we have to make. Would not recommend anyone wasting their money or time making these meals. I’ve had my kids and husband tell me to stop trying new recipes. They all left the table hungry. Very disappointed. Was hoping for some great new recipes.

    • Kirstin says

      That is definitely the tricky thing about trying new recipes- some aren’t a good match for your family. The first time we made Man Pleasing Chicken, I remember it being too mustard-y for us too. Though, we had it the other night and I liked it, so there’s that.
      I am actually working on a ‘freezer crockpot cooking review’ post right now where I review our family’s experience with freezer crockpot cooking so far. Like you, we have several recipes that just don’t work for us. And we’ve found several that I just keep making over and over again. Trial and error I guess. ;)

  72. Steph stevens says

    I have the Coconut Curry Chicken in my crockpot right now. Apparently I did not read the directions in their entirety because I cut up the thighs….oh well. I kept wondering why it was taking so long to get in my crock pot! It smells delicious but I am worried. I have read several comments from other sites (Martha Stewart) that it was too bland, so I added more spices. I hope I didn’t just shoot myself in the foot! Any good ideas on where to score Coconut Milk? My Kroger had it with their organic foods and it was close to $4 a can…..here is hoping we have a yummy dinner! I am contemplating running out to the Indian restaurant close by for some of their to die for Naan..

    • Kirstin says

      Two things- YES, run to get the to-die-for Naan. Absolutely. ;)
      And two- $4 for a can of coconut milk!?!? That’s ridiculous. I look for sales and stock up (Sprouts does a $1 a can every quarter or so), but even full price ours is $2 or $2.50. They carry the brand I like (Thai-something… maybe Thai Kitchen?) at our King Soopers/Kroger in the ethnic food aisle. Hope that helps!
      I’m trying to remember if I add extra spices, but I can’t remember… I’m sure it’ll turn out great though! :)

  73. SHelly says

    I have to comment! I see freezer meals online all the time. They’re also meat,meat, more meat, sauce, meat, and sauce. No nutrition at all. I just scroll past and woe is me that I will never be able to do freezer meals. I happened upon your post and I’m so excited! Freezer meals that have VEGGIES in them! HEALTHY freezer meals! Thank you for this list!

  74. says

    OK for this batch, we did not like the Orange Chicken & the Man Pleasing Chicken (my man ESPECIALLY did not like the Man Pleasing Chicken!)

    The Hot & Spicy Braised Chicken was a hit, the coconut chicken curry was good, the BBQ chicken was also good, although I would lean towards a sweet bbq sauce, and watch the sodium!

    Condiments such as salsa and bbq sauce are designed for you to eat a tablespoon or two (or even three) but a whole jar in a meal is sodium chaos!

  75. KR says

    What are the crockpot cooking directions for the man-pleasing chicken recipe? What you have there now is directions for cooking in the oven. Thanks!

    • Kirstin says

      I have made it in the oven the last couple of times, so I’m just guessing, but I think you defrost it for a day in the fridge then put in the crockpot with the mustard, maple syrup and vinegar on low for at least 4 hours (depending on your crockpot).

  76. Rose piurowski says

    I totally messed up. I thought the recipes were for 2 bags so I’ve been dividing them up! You really need 2 lbs of chicken for 4 people?

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Rose- you could try them in the half portions and see if they work for your family. We usually have leftovers, but we also aren’t huge portion people either.

  77. sharon ratzburgg says

    Do you have trouble freezing the raw veggies, won’ t they get tough if they are not blanched?

    • Kirstin says

      Sharon, you could definitely blanch them if you want! I haven’t ever tried that, but also haven’t noticed tough veggies… :)

  78. Ciara says

    I was wondering if you happen to have any of these recipes that would work that are pork or beef. My husband isn’t a chicken fan like the rest of the family which makes doing these difficult for me. I like the chicken and will use them, just curious if you or anyone else has anything that is pork or beef.

    • Kirstin says

      Hey Clara- there are pineapple pork and beef broccoli recipes in another one of the freezer cooking posts… And we have some coming up that aren’t just chicken as well! Hope that helps!

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