I get a LOT of questions about my freezer meals and meal planning and it’s hard to be able to answer in depth, but today I bring you the masterpost! The motherlode of freezer meal information!
So before you even start thinking about recipes, there’s a few things you need.
- A Crockpot. You can get smaller ones that look pretty as low as $17, and fancier ones for around $50. Ours is cheap and not very fancy and idk the size, but it is pretty big. It works perfectly though.
- A Sharpie. To write on your freezer bags. Here you go.
- Freezer bags. To write on with your sharpies and store your food. You want Gallon size. Like these!
- Crockpot Liners. If you don’t want to clean the crockpot every night. To me they’re unnecessary and pricey but hey, here you go.
- Non-Stick Spray. Vegetable or Coconut or Olive oil spray! Like this or this. Personally I don’t think olive oil works well, and I haven’t tried coconut. If you do not use liners you NEED a cooking spray or you’ll have the worst, stuck food mess ever.
- Square slices of cardboard to put between the meals in the freezer. If you want to make them perfectly flat. Or you can organize them in… a bunch of different ways! But I hear cardboard is easy too.
Now, that aside, you want to create a menu. There are a million ways to do it. Personally, I go through a bunch of sites and pick and choose what I like best. I’m super picky though. Some people may prefer choosing a specific meal for specific nights, or a few meals to have repeats of, etc.
Save these recipes you choose, however you want. On your phone, print them, in a message to your mom on Facebook, on tumblr, whatever. Save them.
Now go over your recipes, and make a shopping list. Many of the recipes will use similar ingredients, like minced garlic or chopped carrots, so you can figure out exactly how much you need, of what. After you make your shopping list, go shopping! Don’t forget the freezer bags!!!
Now for us the first trip was a bit over budget. But Maryland is also expensive. There’s me and my husband and Riven, who’s 15 months. I buy family packs of meat, and try to buy in bulk. It is a lot cheaper than it sounds, as four carrots can be chopped into enough for 5-6 meals and for 3-4 people, 2 adults and 2 children, that’d be say, 4 pieces of chicken or 4 pork chops. You buy a 12-pack, that’s 3 solid dinners.
So go, do your buying, check out, get home, get the groceries inside and sit and look at it all in despair. HOW IS THIS ALL GOING TO TURN INTO BEAUTIFUL MEALS?!
Just shut up and trust me. It will.
Now turn on the TV or throw your kids in bed or duct tape them to the wall or to yourself, amuse them.
Get out your freezer bags. Figure out how much you have and how many meals it will yield. (I mean, if you haven’t already, but you shoulda done that when you made the list).
And do this:
- Label each freezer bag. I just write the meal, how long it goes into the crockpot, and any additional instructions. You can also write the date or whatever else. Set them aside.
- Take all fresh ingredients like carrots, onions, etc. and chop, dice, slice, whatever. I put them all in separate tupperware on the counter for easy access.
- Gather other ingredients. Seasonings, milk, measuring cups and spoons, broth, etc.
- Gather all meat (if you’re using meat. If not, skip this step? Or.. use your meat substitute?). Disperse into bags depending on serving size. Slice if you need to. Make sure to wash your hands before, after and between touching different types of meat and other foods, as to avoid cross contamination.
- Add all fresh ingredients to necessary bags. Then add seasonings, sauces, broths and other ingredients called for.
- Smoosh all the air out of the bags and zipper them closed. Or vacuum seal them, however you want to do it. And then flatten them as much as possible. Make sure they’re all mixed well and flat and lay them gently one at a time in the freezer. If you’d rather prop them up, let them freeze laying flat first THEN prop them. Trust me.
- Clean. Clean. Clean. Do a bunch of dishes. Clean. Then sit down… put your feet up… and enjoy. You just made supper for a few freaking weeks!
Boom. You are DONE. When you want to make one, pull it out before you go to bed to thaw, and the next morning grease up the crockpot and throw the meal in. Write down when it should come out so you remember and boom. Prep some sides right before supper and you are done. And they’re DELICIOUS. Don’t forget to wash the crockpot afterwards!!
Here are some great sites for recipes:
Crock Pot Ladies- 10 meals
SideTracked Sarah- 54 meals and shopping list
Pinterest with it’s LOADS of ideas
Who Needs a Cape? 7 in 1 hour (40 in 40 hours, 20 in 2 hours)
Mommy’s Fabulous Finds- 33 Meals
Vegan Freezer Meals on Pinterest
Vegetarian Crockpot Meals
MOAR vegetarian crockpot meals
Those are just a few, but they’re all super helpful. That’s where I get most of my recipes!
It’s just a few hours of work on one day, for meals that last weeks. We’ve skipped grocery shopping entirely twice now (except to grab milk and dog food) because we didn’t need to!
Bonus: You see everything that goes into your food and control portion sizes from the get go!
You can ALSO do…
Make-Ahead Breakfasts! Sides! Non-Crockpot Freezer Meals! Crockpot Desserts!
I really hope this helped anyone who needed it, if I left out anything feel free to let me know!