When I was pregnant with Elle, my “nesting” urge manifested itself in the form of cooking and freezing meals. I cooked and cooked and cooked and in the end had more than a month’s worth of freezer meals for after she was born! It was aaaamazing not having to worry about cooking…so much so that I decided I need to make this a monthly gig.
But you know what wasn’t so amazing? The cooking day itself. Chopping, measuring, cooking, bagging and then washing the pots and pans so I could do it all over again for the next recipe. It literally took almost 10 hours and I. was. wiped. While in the end it was worth it, I was dreading having to do it again
But then, thanks to Pinterest, I stumbled across SLOW COOKER freezer cooking! As if slower cookers weren’t convenient enough, it gets even easier if you can prep and freeze the meals in advance! I found plenty of recipes that just called for raw meat (rather than, for example, browning meat in advance). This was exactly what I was looking for — no pre-cooking, no pot washing, just prepping and bagging. Then, all I have to do every morning is dump out the bag and turn on my Crock Pot. How easy is that?!
So I made a plan and got organized. I’ll post reviews of each recipes as I cook them, but for now here’s how I made freezer cooking a seamless and EASY experience.
1.) Inventory. Gather all of your recipes and make sure you have all of the ingredients. This sounds like a no-brainer, but having everything you need is an essential step to a smooth prep day.
2) Prep anything you can in advance. For me, this included washing, chopping, peeling, etc. You can even measure out your marinades and spice mixes. The goal is to just be able to dump stuff in the bag and move on!
3) Clear off a big area, like a kitchen table for bagging. I literally can’t think straight if my counter tops are cluttered, so moving my bagging area away from my prep area made a huge difference in my cooking process!
4) Layout and prep all of your bags at once. Label the bags (I prefer a numbering method…number your recipes and then label your bag correspondingly), so you know how to complete the recipe during prep and cooking time. Roll down the edges and flatten the bottoms for easy mess-free pouring.
5) Take care of all of the meat at once. I HATE HATE HATE working with raw meat. So much so that I’ve even considered becoming a vegetarian just to avoid the stuff. Separating the meat into the bags ahead of time got the most unpleasant part of the cooking experience out of the way, and prevented me from having to wash my hands a bajillion times.
6) Finish it off. Go through the rest of the recipes and dump in the remaining ingredients. Hopefully, if you did your prep work in advance, this part should go really quickly.
7) Seal and put away…and enjoy knowing that you don’t have to worry about any major cooking for a good while!
For real though, think about it…a few hours of prep-work and all of those meals! We’ll probably get at least two meals out of each bag…and all I will have to do is grab my (defrosted) bag, dump it in the slow cooker, and relish the smells all day long. Now who wouldn’t want to cook like that?