Sunday, September 25, 2011

Freezer Cooking- Slow Cooker Meals!

**Update 9.2.2012-  Many of the recipes below turned out a bit more "bland" than my husband and I like so at the end of this post I have offered some "additions" to the recipes that you can try if you wish!  Also-- I did a Freezer Cooking #2 post that you should check out that came out better in my opinion and I did a Freezer Cooking #3 "Sauce-A-Palooza"  and a Freezer Cooking #4 "Soups" post also that you may enjoy!     ~ Melissa **

Fall is SUPER BUSY for me at work... and I typically get home late and don't have time to cook (Okay I'll admit it.. I don't FEEL like cooking! ) I LOVE using my crock pot and never thought about pre-assembling meals (until I found PINTEREST) that I could freeze & dump in the crock pot before I head to work in the A.M. There is nothing like coming home to a house that smells like you've been slaving away all day making a gourmet dinner, when in fact the crock pot has done all the work!

Andrew was out of town this weekend so I thought it would be the perfect time to experiment with this whole "Once A Month Freezer Cooking" thing I have read about on Pinterest.com. After some research, and some inspiration from mamaandbabylove.com 's Freezer Cooking poste...I narrowed it down to (5) meals that sounded good (or that I already make in the crock pot on a regular basis) and use them for my 1st experience with Freezer Cooking...

I chose the following:

Savory Vegetable Beef Soup (I make this 3-4 times a winter)
Teriyaki Chicken
Balsamic & Onion Pot Roast
Healthy BBQ Chicken *
from mamaandbabylove.com *LinkStephanie's Goulash *adapted from mamaandbabylove.com *

I printed all of the recipes and made my grocery list. Most of the main staples I had: basil, thyme, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, brown sugar, white sugar, olive oil, garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar, mustard and teriyaki sauce. If you don't have any of these you will need to add to the list below =)

*Please note that all "bags" are 2-4 servings* Adjust ingredients to increase or decrease serving sizes. I figured each of my freezer bags would be dinner plus lunch the next day.

My Grocery List:

Fresh Produce:
(3) Green Peppers
(1) Red Pepper
(1) Zucchini
(1) Red Onion
(1) Bag of Onions (you need approx 8-10 onions)
(1) Bag Potatoes (I bought Red) (You will need approx 14-16)
(1) Large Bag of Whole Carrots (Baby Carrots would work also if you don't feel like chopping- 2 bags of baby carrots would work) I got a bag of whole & a bag of baby.
(1) Bunch of Celery

Meat:
4.5-5Ibs of Chicken Breast (I bought the HT Value Pack)
3-4Ibs of Beef Stew Meat (It was B1G1 at HT today!)
3Ib Chuck Roast (B1G1 at HT today!)
1-1.5Ibs of Ground Beef

Other Groceries:
(2) 20oz cans of Chunked Pineapple
(2) 15 Oz Cans Tomato Sauce
(2) 6oz Cans Tomato Paste
(1) 28oz Can Diced Tomatoes
(1) pack of v8 juice (I buy the 6 pack of cans)
(1) small box Tapioca (I had no clue where to find this in the store-- It's right above the pudding/jello at HT) =)
(2) Boxes Beef Broth (I buy low sodium)
Steak Rub (I bought grill mates in the spice aisle)
(1) bag egg noodles
(1) Bag Frozen Cut Green Beans (you will need 2 cups)

AND DON'T FORGET TO BUY A BOX OF GALLON FREEZER BAGS! I used 8 for this go around...

Okay... Once you get everything home leave it all out on the counter and admire what you are about to do!

First I labeled all of my Freezer Bags with a permanent marker. I wrote on the bag todays date, the meal name and the instructions for the day I will make it. (some of the meals will need beef broth added, water added, sour cream added etc.. so I made note on the actual bag what I needed to do so I don't forget!) I also notated on my bags if the dish was supposed to be served over rice or egg noodles etc..

Teriyaki Chicken (2 Bags)
Savory Vegetable Beef Soup (2 Bags)
Healthy BBQ Chicken (2 Bags)
Stephanie's Goulash/Beef Stew (2 Bags)
--I made the Balsamic & Onion Pot Roast immediately so I won't include this in the instructions, I will post the recipe at the bottom. =)

Next... I started CHOPPING VEGETABLES! (It's not as bad as it sounds!)
As I chopped I placed the correct amount in each bag. (I started with ALL the onions, then did peppers, then potatoes... (see below for instructions).
I lined up all of my freezer bags across the counter and just dumped the correct amount of veggies for each recipe in the respective bags (see below). I never measure anything so I just guesstimate!

After I had the veggies chopped and distributed I tackled the meat... for this round of freezer cooking I only had to cook the ground beef for the vegetable soup... the chicken & beef stew meat stay raw.

For the ground beef.. take (1) chopped onion and (2) chopped garlic cloves and brown them together. If you are feeling super savy you can let the beef brown while you are chopping the veggies! Let cool, instructions below on how to finish.

For the chicken, I washed & trimmed it and left (4) of the breasts whole (for the teriyaki chicken) and the other (4) I cut in half just because I felt like it (for the healthy bbq chicken).

I trimmed the beef stew meat of any fat and also cut it down into smaller cubes.

After placing the meat in the correct bags I added the spices and remaining ingredients.

Here is how it broke down per bag..

Teriyaki Chicken (2 Bags)
  • Split a large bag of Baby Carrots between the 2 bags
  • Cut Red Onion into Large Chunks and split between the 2 bags
  • (1) 20oz can pineapple in each bag (undrained)
  • (2) Garlic Cloves chopped per bag
  • (2) Chicken Breasts in each bag
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce in each bag
*Add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to mixture. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Serve over Rice.



Savory Vegetable Beef Soup (2 Bags)
  • Chop (1) Onion and Chop (2) Cloves of Garlic- Brown in Pan with the Ground Beef- once cool divide mixture between bags
  • (2) whole carrots chopped per bag
  • (2) celery stalks chopped per bag
  • (3) Red Potatoes chopped per bag
  • (1) can v8 split between bags
  • (1) 28oz can diced tomatoes SPLIT between bags
  • (1) cup frozen green beans in each bag
  • (1/2)TBSP Worcestershire per bag
  • (1/2) cup Beef Broth per bag
  • (1) TBSP Parsley per bag
  • (1) tsp Basil per bag
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme per bag
  • (1/2) tsp salt per bag
  • (1/2) tsp pepper per bag
  • (1) TBSP Sugar per bag
*Place in Crockpot with 1.5 cups of water and 15 oz Beef Broth. Cook on LOW 8 Hours.


Healthy BBQ Chicken (2 Bags) * from mamaandbabylove.com *
  • (2) Green Peppers Cut into Slices split between 2 bags
  • (1) Red Pepper Cut into Slices-split between bags
  • (1) Zucchini Chopped and split between bags
  • (3) Onions Chopped and split between bags
  • (6) Red Potatoes Chopped and split between bags (you can also use Sweet Potatoes)
  • (4) Garlic Cloves Chopped & Split Between bags
  • (4) Chicken Breasts Split between bags (I cut each breast in half again)
  • (1/2) TBSP Quick Cooking Tapioca per bag
  • (1) 15 oz can of Tomato Sauce Split Between bags
  • (1) TBSP of Brown Sugar per bag
  • (1) TBSP Worcestershire per bag
  • (1) TBSP Mustard per Bag
  • (1/4) tsp Salt per bag
Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Serve over Rice or Egg Noodles.

Stephanie's Goulash/Beef Stew (2 Bags) *adapted from mamaandbabylove.com *
  • (1) Green Pepper Chopped split between bags
  • (1) Chopped Onion per bag
  • (2) Carrots Chopped per bag
  • (2) Chopped Garlic Cloves per bag
  • (3) Ibs Beef Stew Meat Split Between Bags
  • (1) 6oz can Tomato Paste per bag
  • (2) tsp Paprika per bag
  • (1/4) tsp Black Pepper per bag
*Cook for 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW in a slow cooker. Add (1/2) Cup of Sour Cream about 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over Egg Noodles.


Once ALL INGREDIENTS are in freezer bags push all of the air out of them and seal. Lay bags flat so they freeze flat. Stack in Freezer... once they are frozen you can re-arrange to best suit your freezer space. Take meal out of freezer the night before you want to put it in slow cooker so it thaws a bit.



Here is the Balsamic & Onion Pot Roast Recipe... I went ahead and made it for dinner instead of freezing it: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2007/01/how-to-make-pot-roast-in-crockpot.html

There is a TON of shredded beef leftover... I will probably make the leftovers into Sandwiches or Beef Enchiladas later in the week!

Since all of the meals are in the freezer... freezing... as I cook them this month I will let you know what I think of the taste (I guess I should say that I will let you know what the husband thinks of them!!)

If anyone else happens to try them let me know what you think!

If you have any questions about this post let me know.. Being my first time doing this it might be a bit hard to follow... I tried to translate it best I could from what I actually did today in the kitchen!

Thanks for reading and Good Luck!
~Melissa



*** UPDATE: 9.2.2012:  The Healthy BBQ Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken and Goulash were the ones that were a bit bland for my husband and I's tastes! I would just recommend adding some spices into each one! For the teriyaki chicken you can add in brown sugar, garlic salt and soy sauce to add a little more flavor. To the BBQ Chicken- I just added some actual bbq sauce out of the bottle to the recipe and to the Goulash I added some basil, oregano, worcestershire and beef broth. This helped a little with the flavor! =)

321 comments:

  1. OMG, I love this. I just started freezer cooking a few weeks ago and this is GREAT. Thanks for the new recipes. ALSO, you should definitely try freezing Chicken Pot Pie (it's amazing) and chicken casserole. You can freeze them in their original pans, crust and all, and just thaw 'em and cook. I love 'em for cooler weather and comfort food.

    Seriously can't wait to try the teriyaki chicken!

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  2. Looks great! I have 4 hungry kids and a husband to feed each night - so freezer meals are always wonderful to have on hand. Thanks! ~Denise

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  3. Absolutely awesome! I saw this on pinterest. I tried freezer cooking this year and loved it but this looks even easier that what I did.

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    1. When do you typically begin your next batch of mass freezing? Do you do it on a set day of the month or do you do it when you only have 1 or 2 bags left? I'm curious to know your timeline to avoid gaps in your meals.

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    2. Also, I just wanted you to know that I've been doing something similar with a vegetarian chili. Only, I've been actually cooking a huge pot before hand and separating it into perfectly portioned 1.5 cup (250 calorie) sandwich bags and freezing in the same manner. When ready to eat you need only to defrost. That said, I'm excited to try your raw ingredient method this weekend with my wife. There really is something to coming home to the smell of your crock pot doing the cooking for you. :)

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    3. I have actually gotten really good at "freezer packing" as I go! When I am at the store... I base my recipes no whatever meat is on sale... I usually buy 2-3 packs of any one kind of meat so I go ahead and prep 3 meals -- one to eat immediately and (2) to put in the freezer... this method has worked well for me and it keeps my stockpile up to date! I also did the same with chili-- made a batch and froze (2) meals of it but went ahead and ate one the night I made it!

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    4. Thanks so much for posting this! Going off of whatever meat is on sale is an awesome idea... and so simple! I started a meal plan since I will be going back to work soon and I wanted to do some freezer meals. This is great because that way I don't have to actually plan meal-for-meal... just for the days I actually wouldn't mind spending some time in the kitchen.

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  4. Do you put more than one bag in the crockpot at a time? The meals look delicious and I love that they don't have canned soup in them! Lorri

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    1. I typically will just put 1 bag at a time-- And remember all of my "bags" were for 2 people... so if you are feeding more than 2 people per meal you can just put the regular amount of the recipe in a bag instead of splitting it between bags. =) Hope this helps!

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    2. Awesome to have 2 person meals! That is what I need. I have a question about the can of V8 in one of the recipes. What size can do you use?

      ~Linnea

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    3. i use the small can of v-8, comes in a 6-pack

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  5. Great job! Freezing meals ahead has saved my bacon soooo many times. Another thought is when you have time to cook at night, make two--it usually is not any more time consuming and then you have one in the freezer for later.

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    1. I agree Kim! I have started making two of everything and freezing half! I also recently was given a foodsaver system which has been AWESOME! I highly recommend!

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  6. Inspiring! Thanks for 'slicing' your details (menu, shopping list, etc) in so many directions. I appreciate that you made it easy to get started.

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  7. I started once a month/freezer cooking just before my son, almost 21, was born. I knew I was having a C-section and my husband's idea of cooking is toast! :-) One suggestion, DON'T freeze raw potatoes...they turn black! I can't wait to try your recipes!!

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    1. Cheri- I do freeze the potatoes, and haven't had them turn black - but I will say I am NOT a fan of potatoes in the crockpot anymore.. not sure why but I have started making MASS quantities of twice baked potatoes and I just pop two in the oven right before dinner instead of putting potatoes in my recipes in the crockpot anymore...

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    2. Ore-Ida became famous for figuring out how to freeze potatoes, so don't feel bad if you have trouble. Even so, you could look for frozen potatoes at your grocer's. There are a couple of brands with no added sugar-salt-fat-whatever that you could add easily to your own concoctions.

      Nancy

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    3. Sliced potatoes and froze them without them turning black. Just remember to rinse the starch of them first.

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    4. At what point in the Balsamic Pot Roast Recipe do you freeze it if you aren't going to make it that day?

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    5. Cut potatoes in half and put them in the crockpot with butter and seasoning (we use montreal steak seasoning) for the day and they are the best "baked" potatoes ever!

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    6. If you are having an issue with your potatoes turning black you can boil them for 1 minute rinse under cold water to prevent further cooking. Flash freeze then place in a freezer bag. Hope that helps.

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    7. several years ago you could buy Crock pot meals in the store can't remember the brand name but each bag would have say your main thing like the beef stew so it would have the meat, veggies, and a season pk that was concentrated so you would add water. then it would tell you to cook on low but I seem to remember 30 to 45 min before you wanted to eat it said to add the potatoes (they were in a small bag they told you to place on a plate and stick in the fridge until time) those were great don't know why they quit making them. but these sound awesome too. But you might try that with the potatoes next time?

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  8. So, do the 2 bags together only serve 4? Or do the 2 bags serve 8?

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    1. Each of my bags serves two people. So if you are cooking for 4 people- I recommend not splitting the ingredients between bags-- just put them all in one OR double the recipe so you can make (2) meals of the same thing =)

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  9. Suddenly life seems so much easier since seeing this on Pinterest! I'm serious...can't wait to try these, and prepare myself in advance for days I do NOT feel like cooking. :)

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    1. I am going to post another freezer cooking blog soon--- I have been waiting to "try" out my second go around with new ones to make sure they don't need tweaking or adding of ingredients etc before publishing.. stay tuned!

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    2. Melissa,
      Please do... I have tried all of your recipes and they are amazing!!! This works wonders for me as I have Lupus and unfortunately it is taking a huge toll on my body so I have been spending a great deal of time in the hospital so my husband has been having a sunday with the police department and they come over and prepare meals like this for the freezer so that he can throw them in crockpot for dinner so he doesn't skip a beat while I am away from home and he can care for the kids... so please keep the recipes coming... as I know my family could use them!!! Thank you for all your hard work - I know my family greatly appreciates it!!!!

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    3. Wonderful Melissa! I can't wait to see your next batch of slow cooker dinners! I love the shopping list and other tips as well!

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  10. Thanks for the fabby idea!!! :)

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  11. I am with the few others with this question... is one bag a serving for 4 or do you need to use both bags to get a serving for 4?

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    1. I taylored my cooking for just 2 servings per bag because I am currently only cooking for 2... if you are cooking for 4, you will probably want to DOUBLE the recipe in order to get (2) meals out of it... just put the "whole" of whatever 1/2 I notated to split between bags... For instance, if it says (1) Green Pepper chopped split between bags, you will actually put (1) green pepper chopped PER bag. Let me know if this helps!

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    2. She is saying use both bags for serving 4. She split the recipe into two bags that each serve 2.

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  12. Would using a FoodSaver instead of freezer bags keep the potatoes from turning black?

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    1. Tracie- I actually got a foodsaver after doing this post and I LOVE IT-- I have never experienced potatoes turning black out of the freezer while using ziplocs or foodsaver bags. I will say the taste of the potatoes isn't as great after they have been frozen and lately I have been taking them out of my crockpot recipes...

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    2. Don't freeze the potatoes, just add them fresh when you pull the rest to slow cook. I find it is not that much trouble to cut them up fresh and they taste much better!

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    3. One thing that I do alot is if you are going to use potatoes and do not want to cut them in the am.. Cut some up the night before and put them in a bowl and cover with water. Come morning when you add your ingredients from the bag, just pop the potatoes right in.

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    4. Putting the potatoes in water is a great way to keep them from turning colors, just remember that soaking them in water will take the potassium out of the potato. They will taste a little different also.

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    5. I didn't have any problems with potatoes turning, they got just a little brownish in the bag, but looked fine cooked. I used a seal a meal.

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  13. Cooking ahead makes life so easy. I had a meal preparation business in Kansas for 3 years, where customers could come in and put their meals together. We did all the shopping, chopping and cleaning. Had 12 entrees per month. It was so much fun to own....but we ended moving to Texas. Still do it, just for my hubby and me!

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    1. I do meal preps with my Wildtree customers and we love it! www.mywildtree.com/egirard

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    2. Do you have recipes or anything. I couldn't find your blog. Can you give me the address? I'd love to learn more.

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  14. just found this through a friend on Pintrest - gonna print this out!

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  15. Just popped in to thank you for posting this. I found it on Pinterest too. Spent a couple of hours this afternoon preparing all of these for the freezer. Time well spent, I'd say!

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  16. OK, this might be the dumbest question, but how do you thaw out the bags? I don't think you place the content in the slow cooker frozen, right?

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    1. I think you would thaw the freezer bag in the fridge overnight, then put the contents into the crock in the am :)

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    2. No you put it in frozen. You do let it sit out for about 30 min though. It's what makes it so easy.

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    3. I typically take the meal out of the freezer the night before so I thaws a bit just for ease of getting it out of the bag... If you forget, no worries.. just place the bag in your sink filled with water for about 15-20 minutes and it will thaw it enough to get out of the bag. Most of the time, my meals are still 80% frozen when they hit the crockpot. A new batch of freezer cooking coming soon on the blog.. stay tuned!

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  17. I discovered your site from a pin on Pinterest for this slow cooker blog. I am SO glad I did!

    Living on a tight budget and trying to eat healthier while working...yeah, this is the info I needed!! Will be sharing your blog on mine TheDietribeGal.Blogspot.com. Thanks for the great recipes! Can't wait to share with others :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing!!
      I will be posting another freezer cooking blog very soon.. stay tuned!

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  18. I'm so excited to try this. My only question is mixing the raw meats with the veggies and potatoes, can that cause any sort of cross contamination? Such as Samonella? I was always warned NOT to put the stuffing in the turkey the night before? Your advice is much appreciated and thank you for the wonderful post.

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    1. Suzan- I have never had an issue with this. I try to make sure I keep the meat at the correct temperatures/in the fridge until the last possible moment before I put it in the bag... and then immediately into the freezer. As long as you are practicing safe-food handling you should be okay. =)

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    2. It isn't an issue of cross contamination if you do as Melissa directs. Keep all your foods cold til packaging and put right into freezer. The raw meat doesn't contaminate anything and if your thawing then cooking, even in a partial frozen state, it passes through the "danger zone" (40-140 quickly enough that no bacteria grows and/or is killed while cooking in crockpot since it heats quickly and boils on high most of the time. @ Melissa, just started doing the MAM's myself and it makes life so much easier!

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    3. if you are worried about cross contamination - try putting the meat in a smaller bag inside the gallon size freezer bag - or freezing the meat alone and mark the front of each "meal bag" with which bag of meat goes with .. i use a numbering system .. "meal bag" 1 goes with "meat bag" 1 - takes away the fear of contamination .. add's an extra step but it doesn't take that much extra time

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    4. There is IS NO issue with cross contamination because as others have said, if you are keeping everything cold. Then when you are placing all raw ingredients into the crockpot you are doing exactly what you would do if they had not been frozen (they all go in the same pot together raw). There is no problem with using placing raw meat and vegetables together as long as you are cooking them for the correct length of time and the correct temperature (and obviousl clean hands/surfaces). Just as when you are preparing food that is all going into the same pot for cooking, you can use the same knife to cut the meat and the vegetables. It would be unnecessary to use an extra bag for your meat.

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    5. I'm sorry, Chickin, but your information is incorrect. I own a restaurant and just finished attending the ServSafe food safety course, and cannot stress enough how dangerous this practice (of freezing raw and ready to eat foods in the same bag) truly is. The problem is the length of time it takes the meat and veggies to freeze (or defrost) all the way through (unlike the 'flash freezers' used in commercial food-prep plants). Chilling the meat thoroughly would reduce the risk, but there is no way I would chance it. The wrong results, even once, could be deadly. The only truly safe way is to freeze the raw meats separately from the cut veggies. And NO, you should NEVER use the same knife to cut raw meat and veggies UNLESS they are being cooked immediately. Otherwise, wash with soapy water and rinse (the board, the knife, and your hands) when going from raw meat to veggies. I have to say, the things I learned in the 16 hours of training I received told me that, in retrospect, there were times when I thought we at home had come down with the "flu" when in fact it was probably some form of bacterial or viral contamination from my food prep (all bacteria/viruses are not equally dangerous).

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    6. Everyone should do what they are comfortable with, but what about the pre-packaged frozen crockpot meals I've seen in the past at the grocery store? I can't imagine they store the meat separate from the veggies.

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    7. Thank you for the info Vieja. I also believe our household has experienced a "mild flu" and it could have easily been my mishandling of some chicken. I am much more careful now. When I bought and prepped self-packaged frozen meals at a commercial place (Dinner a'Fare), we always packaged raw meat in their own bags. Only exception was a marinade only, or flour only.

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    8. Are you guys serious?? These aren't "raw and ready to eat foods in the same bag". None of this is ready to eat - it goes in a crockpot and cooks for like 10 hours. Salmonella can't survive after it's been cooked over a certain temp. You aren't cross-contaminating anything. This is a crockpot lover's dream come true, not a scary controversial topic. As long as you aren't tasting things before they are finished cooking, and being clean with your prep, people aren't going to get sick. Give me a break! This is a great blog, please keep posting ideas! :)

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  19. Wow! This is a great post, thank you so much for going to the trouble of outlining every step. I am definitely going to try this!

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  20. I'm going to freeze the balsamic & onion potroast. Is the recipe for 1 or 2 bags? Thanks, this is excellent!

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    1. This recipe is for just one bag. What I did is I made the entire recipe in the crockpot, we ate it for dinner one night but then I shredded the leftover beef and froze it to eat later on sandwiches or use in enchiladas or something. Good luck!

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  21. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have found myself in a situation of having to help elderly parents with meals. This is going to be a huge hit & help! Most appreciated!

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  22. Thank you so much for posting! I LOVE my crockpot but I have been getting a little tired of getting up so early to put it all together! Fantastic idea, and yummy looking recipes!

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  23. Very interesting. I will give this a go and freeze a few bags but do the cooking in my pressure cooker. Would be great for those days when we are so exhausted that the prep work and cooking seems impossible. Thanks

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  24. Did you cook the meat before hand? Or would that ruin the quality of it by cooking and then freezing?

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    1. Part of the "slow cooking" taste and flavors I believe comes from the meats juices/fat as it cooks. The only recipe I "pre cooked" the meat was for the vegetable beef soup.

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    2. I know it makes a little more prep work, but I have found searing the stew meat or roasts before freezing and slow cooking gives the meat such a wonderful, complex flavor. I really prefer it to starting the meat completely raw. Just my 2 cents! Thanks so much for putting all this info together. This is a wonderful resource!

      P.S. found you through pinterest!

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  25. Just wanted to put in my 2 cents....
    These recipes are from Stephanie at http://mamaandbabylove.com I've made the goulash and the healthy bbq chicken. Both are fabulous just as written in the original blog. All the ingredients freeze perfectly together in a Ziploc brand freezer bag.

    I agree with Melissa about the meat and did not cook the meat beforehand, but kept it cool in the fridge until I added it to the freezer bags.

    Most of Stephanie's recipes are for two bags, but like Melissa mentioned, it really matters how many people you're cooking for and what serving size they expect. I use my leftovers for lunches at work, so I make a lot at once.

    I have put these and some other recipes to share on our Freezer Fairy blog at http://freezerfairy.blogspot.com.

    Thanks for the great post, Melissa!

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    1. Thanks so much for giving me credit for my recipes!

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  26. What size can of V8? Everything looks so yummy, thanks for sharing!

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    1. I use the small can of v8- it comes in a 6 pack =)

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  27. I have seen so many of these once a month cooking ideas and I really want to try it. I know prices aren't the same, but could you give me an rough idea of how much you spent when you did your shopping? My husband gets paid every 2 weeks so I am not sure if I could do once a month cooking, but could do 2 weeks at a time.

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    1. I plan my cooking around which meats are on sale at the grocery store! This particular week was a good week for ground beef, chicken and pot roast... I spent $98 at the grocery store on these ingredients. I had some of the "essentials" already in my pantry.... about $10/meal isn't bad! When pork chops are on sale, I stock up and go ahead and make 4-5 different meals for the freezer out of them.. same with pork tenderloin or chicken. I am working on Freezer Cooking #2 so check back soon!

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  28. Melissa the healthy BBQ chicken is awesome.

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    1. Thanks! I found the recipe at mamaandbabylove.com!

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  29. How does the zucchini do in the crockpot ? My husband doesn't like zucchini when it gets mushy, so I'm wondering if I should leave it out? Thanks!!!

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    1. To avoid "mushy" zucchini, you could add it for the last hour or so of cooking in the crock pot. =)

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  30. Thanks so much for the yummy recipes. I look forward to making several of them on my next cooking day.

    @Stephanie - in general recipes CAN NOT be copyrighted - see the copyright notes here - http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html

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    Replies
    1. I will have to look at that more, regardless, it would be good blogging etiquette to have a link back to the person who had the original idea! :)

      Delete
    2. Sorry, I missed what the original idea is. Cooking batches of food and putting them into gallon sized bags doesn't seem very original to me. Especially since one of my favorite cookbooks is called The Big Cook and they have been doing it since 2005. I think she has credited you enough.

      Delete
    3. Stephanie, Melissa Did include links to your sight. Calling her out publicly rather than sending her a private note is not good etiquette. If you tried that first, then ignore this:)

      Delete
  31. Whenever I make any freezer meals that are for the crock pot I freeze them in round plastic containers - when it's time, just pop the cube from the container and it fits nicely into the crock pot.

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  32. I'm just curious how much you spent on all of your ingredients?

    This is such a great idea and cannot wait to try freezer cooking out! Thanks for the info!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was approx $98 for the ingredients... not including the staples already in my pantry =)

      Delete
  33. This. Is. BRILLIANT.
    Thanks for posting this!!

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  34. DONE! Thank you SO much for organizing the recipes AND the shopping list! I printed it at work today, shopped, came home and spent the first half of the super bowl chopping veggies and putting my bags together. Now everything is in the freezer and my only dilemma is which recipe to make first and not making them all THIS week! :)

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  35. I love this!Your images look so great !All that wonderful color makes my mouth water!This looks better than all the store bought prepacked meals and am sure beats the store price!Thanks for sharing the method with us!

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  36. Thanks for these recipes! Can not wait to try them!! I am a Tupperware consultant and I work most evenings so my family gets a little tired of my same old recipes all the time and I get stressed out trying to come up with something new before I leave for the night. Here are some great containers for freezing if anyone is interested....http://order.tupperware.com/pls/htprod_www/tup_show_item.show_item_detail?fv_item_category_code=18000&fv_item_number=P10058439000

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was just thinking the other day about my mom's old tupperware and how I wish I could get some pieces like she had when I was growing up. Thanks for the link!!! I'm going to check it out right now!

      And thanks, Melissa, for the great recipe ideas. I love, love, love my crockpot, but sometimes get stuck doing the same old roast every time I pull it out. These are great new ideas!!!

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  37. Oh my! I found your blog this morning. Shared it with a few friends and I have gotten some awesome responds. This is an amazing blog. Lots of people thank you. I thank you. I think you've started a new trend in my neck of the woods. Happy Cooking!

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  38. Isn't Pinterest something else?! :) Thanks for inspiring me to freezer-cook! My husband and I both commute to/from work so getting home and getting dinner ready BEFORE rushing the family to after-school activities is a challenge. Crock pot cooking is awesome. I am, however, going to search for Vegetarian options. If you happen to find some meat-free meals, be sure to share those too! :) Thanks for posting!

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  39. This is great!! I cant wait to do it!!!

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  40. This is AWESOME!!!! I can not wait to go to the store and do this!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share!!

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  41. YEAH!!! Hubby and I just spent a few hours in the kitchen together doing this. It was nice to know we just put 8 meals in the freezer and we enjoyed some time together doing it :)Thank You to everyone that had a hand in creating this idea and the recipes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is fantastic! I need to get my hubs in the kitchen to help me chop!!

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  42. How long do you keep them in the crockpot? (cooking time and temp)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Majority of the recipes can be cooked on Low for 8 hrs or High for 4 hrs.
      Enjoy =)

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  43. Actually read both blogs and want to thank you both for posting and reporting with appropriate credit given to both bloggers! New recipes are super exciting, will be checking back often!

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  44. Oh, Melissa, thank you so much. I just blogged about this so I won't forget the where/how (even though I pinned it too). http://vickiepickles.blogspot.com/2012/02/pinterest-rocks.html

    And I'd like to reiterate the previous comment of thanking you for doing the hard work of creating a shopping list. As a mom of 2 kids under 3, any time saving helps.

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  45. Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for your freezer/crockpot recipes. I just finished getting everything in the freezer. FYI, it took me exactly 1:41 to get everything from the first cut to pushing start on the dishwasher. I now have 10 meals in the freezer that I cannot wait to try out!

    BTW, I found you on Pinterest. How in the world did we live before Pinterest?????

    Kem

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  46. I read your post and Stephanie's post and thought to myself, "How in the world did I never think to do this before?!"
    Just wondering, how big is your crockpot? Mine is either 5 or 6 quarts and I have never tried cooking only half a recipe at once. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a 3 qt and a 5 qt one. You can actually put a casserole dish (oven safe!) INSIDE your crockpot and cook your food in that if you feel like your crockpot is too large for the recipe =)

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  47. I now have 7 meals in my freezer! I cooked one of the Healthy BBQ Chicken meals today. It was delicious, but the veggies were mushy. I think ideally, if you're going to be home at the end of the cooking time, it would be better to add the veggies for maybe the last hour. I'm afraid the other meals I have in the freezer will be the same way. I'm sure we'll still enjoy them!

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    Replies
    1. Congrats Kris! I have found with some of the meals I prefer doing 4 hrs on high-- it seems that the veggies don't get as mushy and the meat is a bit more tender. I am working on my next freezer cooking post (hopefully up by the end of the week!) and you will see that most of my Round 2 recipes don't involve veggies in the crockpot, only the meat... stay tuned! =)

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  48. Very tasty! We did the beef vegetable soup and chicken teriyaki kits up, and did just a couple of little changes on the veggie soup:

    We omitted Worcestershire sauce and parsley, because we didn't have any in the pantry;
    We used oregano instead, because the tomatoes we bought had oregano in already and we like a little Italian flavor anyway;
    We used b-size (mini) red potatoes instead of regular potatoes cut into little pieces;
    We needed more salt (probably because of the Worcestershire omission), but added it to our bowls to taste;
    We added Frank's Red Hot for a little bit of heat zing;

    Can't wait to try the teriyaki!

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  49. Am I crazy or do I see green beans in a bag with chicken? I don't see a recipe that includes green beans and chicken. I see green beans in the recipe for savory vegetable beef soup only. Confused. But, I am trying a few of these ASAP :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are seeing the green pepper strips =)
      Although... green beans would probably be a nice addition to that recipe also!

      Delete
    2. Oh yes! I enlarged it and see now. Preparing some of these today for next month's dinner menu. I prepare a month at a time now and my life has changed completely! LOVE IT! We eat out a lot less now and I'm so much better about using leftovers!

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  50. Hi, I wanted to let you know I was checking out pinterest and found your site. I just sent an email to the leader of my mom's group. I suggested that 6 or 7 of us get together and each person is responsible for buying all the ingredients for ONE recipe for each person that comes to cook. So that way each person will go home with 6 or 7 different meals but only bought and chopped for one recipe. I hope that made sense. Really looking forward to this. I was just saying to my husband that with our work schedules and the kids schedules after school we need to plan better so we can go back to having a hot (home cooked) meal together at night as a family! Thanks for the wonderful ideas.
    Marla

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  51. Hi Melissa, thank you for such inspiring cooking ideas. As a chick whose trying to lose weight, do you have any nutritional information for the recipes you've mentioned.

    Thanks again - what awesomeness!!!

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  52. I'm now inspired to start freezer cooking! We just recently purchased a food saver! Any tips/tricks for the food saver?

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    Replies
    1. Food saver tips - after you fill your bags, put them i the freezer unsealed- I use chip clips or clothes pins at the tops of the bags and set them upright. After they are in the freezer for a couple hours or overnight (or a few days if I forget about them) seal them with the food saver. This way, all of the liquid stays in the bag. Just make sure you leave enough room at the top of your bag that it will fit all the way in to completely seal it. I have also frozen meals in other containers, then slightly thawed the edges by running container under hot water, then putting the solid frozen meal in a food saver bag and sealing it. Either way works well for us! First way is a little time saver but the other works nicely if for transfering meals to crockpot without thawing first. I can't wait to try out some of these meals!

      Delete
    2. @Ashley- My main advice with the foodsaver is to immediately vacuum pack leftovers or 1/2 a recipe OR double the recipe when you make it and immediately vacuum pack. Once you get in the habit of doubling recipes to vacuum pack etc... your freezer will slowly fill up with meals and you will feel like it was effortless! Whenever I make spaghetti sauce or soup or casseroles etc... I go ahead and double it, portion them out and vacuum pack! I probably have about 30 meals in my freezer right now! Also-- when meat is on sale, stock up and vacuum pack!

      @ Jackie these are all great suggestions!

      Delete
    3. I also use a seal a meal, I just omit the liquid and dump it in when I put it in the crock pot (like the v8 juice or broth). I also use better than bouillon stock paste, put that I the bag, and then I just have to pop it in the crockpot and cover with water and go to work!

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  53. I recently came across your blog through a Pinterest link. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know it must have taken some work to document each step you took, so I appreciate the time you took. I do have one question: have you noticed whether or not your potatoes turned brown in the freezer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My potatoes have never turned brown in the freezer... I think it depends on how fresh they were in the first place =)
      See a couple of previous comments on this thread about tricks to help with browning potatoes =)

      Delete
  54. I like the idea of freezer cooking, but the instructions that came with my crockpot told me not to put meat in frozen because it stays in the "danger zone" for bacteria too long??

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    Replies
    1. Erica I have never had a problem with meats spoiling or getting sick from something I cooked in the crockpot... See a couple of comments on this thread previously that give details on this =)

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  55. Hey Erica, the solution is to defrost the bags before adding them to crockpot. I like to throw them in the fridge the day before I'm going to make it.

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  56. I enjoy cooking but now have a 18 month old and another baby on the way. I am looking forward to trying this thanks for your post...I found it on Pintrest.

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  57. I did something similar a couple weeks before my planned surgery. It saved my life! I made stuffed shells (without the sauce...you stuff them, line them up on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, pop off the cookie sheet and put in a freezer bag). All you have to do then is put them in a dish, cover with marinara and bake! I also made chicken soup (without the rice...you can easily cook that and add it when reheating the soup), and a couple other dishes I can't even recall now. It also freed my family up to take care of the house and laundry rather than cooking during my recovery...

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    Replies
    1. Jill, that is GENIUS! I can't wait to try that with the stuffed shells!

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    2. Stuffed shells frozen on a cookie sheet?! Wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing.

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  58. Love this idea! I definitely want to try it, but I need some recipes that are more health conscious as my husband and I are trying to loose weight. Do you have a healthy version of this? :)

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    Replies
    1. Jamie- most of the recipes are fairly healthy! They are packed with veggies... I would recommend using "low sodium" for anything you can to help with the salt in them... but they are all pretty low-cal.

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  59. I am going shopping this weekend and will be a busy bee on Sunday!!! I have always wanted to try this freezer cooking thing, and I am inspired now! Found you on Pinterest :-)
    Thanks!

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  60. Thank you for sharing these ideas. :)

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  61. I found this on Pinterest last week. Yesterday I had my husband look up all the ingredients that were on sale in our area (Dallas, Texas) and today we went and purchased all the ingredients. We came home, immediately chopped up all the vegetables and put everything in the ziplock bags. Now I have 8 meals waiting on me in the freezer! Very excited about making these! Thank you so much for sharing this great idea! I only have one minor hang up...I have 4 large onions left over...I guess this is because the onions that I bought were huge compared to what you used. I also am concerned about the amount of garlic...I talked my grandmother into doing this with me and when we were putting the garlic in there she thought it was too much garlic and did not use the amount recommended in the recipe. I have never cooked anything that I can think of with garlic like this so I just followed the recipe. I guess I will come back after I try it and let y'all know if it was good! :)
    Green Peppers 3 for $.98c At elrods Cost Plus
    Red Pepper 3 for $.98c At elrods Cost Plus
    White onions 6 Lbs per$1.oo at el Rancho
    bag of russet potatoes $1.99 each at Malones
    10 Lb Bag Russet potatoes $1.59 At el Rancho
    Boneless chicken breast $1.88 Lb At el Rancho
    Boneless Chicken Breast$1.58 Lb At Elrods Cust Plus
    Stew Meat $2.98 per pound at el rancho
    Stew Meat$2.68 per pound at Elrods cost plus
    Chuck Roast$2.78 per pound at Elrods Cost plus
    Bunch of Celery $ .79c At Brookshires

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  62. I found your blog on pintrest, and last night I filled up my freezer with the meals. I can't wait to try them, they all look so yummy. It is only my husband and I in the house, but I always try to find different recipes and easier ones so that in our busy lives we don't have to spend too long cooking dinner. This just makes it better. I have been dabbeling in freezer cooking, and now I am thinking about the once a month cooking. Thanks for the awesome recipes.

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  63. Love this post!! I saw it on pinterest too. Just wondering what size crock pot you used for this? Thanks!!

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  64. My husband just went to the store with my grocery list. Tonight after our daughter goes to bed, this is our date night. We like to cook together but never have time, so we will get it all in tonight.

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  65. There is just me and I do alot of soup... I am thinking though, if you know someone who is going through a hard time and needs menus , this would be a great thing.. to fix up and drop off to them... they could do the rest... I think I will do this for a friend on Chemo.. her family can still eat and she will look like wonder woman... thanks for the idea... for me.. I do my soup up and then bag and freeze, there is always soup in the small freezer, just incase I don't feel like cooking something or I have a guest coming.

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    Replies
    1. I've given a number of bags to people after surgery, chemo, death in the family, etc. they have been well received.

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  66. YAY! In the freezer. Thank you!

    I had one onion left over.... Ohhh well its an onion.
    I would buy the number of chicken breasts needed rather than by the pound. I think there were 8 breasts needed
    Don't forget to buy the Teriyaki sauce!

    Finally I had one can of tomato sauce over???? It says there is one needed for the BBQ chicken. But the grocery list said buy two???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you make the Balsamic & Onion Pot Roast? A can of the Tomato Sauce was for that and a can for the BBQ Chick.

      Delete
  67. Do you put them directly in the crock pot from the freezer or do you have to thaw them first?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually take them out the night before and let thaw a bit in the freezer. If I forget, I will put in the sink in cold water for about 20-30 minutes to thaw the edges enough to get it into the crockpot

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    2. Or freeze them in the ziploc bags which are placed inside plastic containers which you know fit your crock pot. Once frozen they will plop right in. I do this with many things because I don't always think ahead!

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  68. I'm very excited to try these! Thanks for simplifying them for us! I'm curious... once frozen, how long are they good to stay frozen for before you use them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Depending on if you use freezer bags or foodsaver.. these are good guides:
      Item Months
      Bacon and Sausage 1 to 2
      Casseroles 2 to 3
      Egg whites or egg substitutes 12
      Frozen Dinners and Entrees 3 to 4
      Gravy, meat or poultry 2 to 3
      Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats 1 to 2
      Meat, uncooked roasts 4 to 12
      Meat, uncooked steaks or chops 4 to 12
      Meat, uncooked ground 3 to 4
      Meat, cooked 2 to 3
      Poultry, uncooked whole 12
      Poultry, uncooked parts 9
      Poultry, uncooked giblets 3 to 4
      Poultry, cooked 4
      Soups and Stews 2 to 3
      Wild game, uncooked 8 to 1

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  69. It is a really cute idea but I'd be careful adding frozen foods to the slow cooker. The meat often defrosts unevenly and does not reach the proper temperature quickly enough to avoid bacteria growth. The FDA strongly recommends against using frozen meat in the slow cooker especially for the elderly, children and people with compromised immune system. Just something to keep in mind! What I do is prep the vegetables the night (or up to 3 nights) before I want to cook and refrigerate them (separately from the meat to retard bacterial growth) and then I can just dump it all in the morning.

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  70. At what point in the Balsamic Pot Roast recipe do you freeze it if you aren't going to have it that day?

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    Replies
    1. Follow Recipe as directed but load everything into Freezer bag instead of crock-pot. Put the onions on top so they will be the first thing that dumps into the crock-pot when you are ready to make it! You could also assemble the meat/sauce in a freezer bag and then wait til later to cut up the onions and put in crock-pot.

      Delete
  71. Found you, like so many others, on Pinterest - repinned you and will try this set of recipes shortly!

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  72. Hello - we shared this page through the Family Table website at http://familytableonline.org/tipoftheweek We featured this in our Tip of the Week which goes out to over 1,800 people!

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  73. Found you on Pintrest. I just made the goulash/beef stew - less onion more carrots though (not big onion eaters here) all on a bed of rice and it was DELICIOUS! I have the other bag and the "Healthy bbq chicken" in there as well - can't wait to try them. Great job :)

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  74. Found you on Pinterest. May I recommend adding smoked paprika to your goulash? It has become our "magic ingredient" to add depth of flavor. Well done on the freezer cooking, I'm following in your footsteps!

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  75. Hi, thanks so much for your post. Do you think that it is okay to use already frozen chicken breast since I will freeze them right away anyhow (It's cheaper). Also, when you set the bag out the night before do you mean in the frig or room temperature? Thanks for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Set the bag in the fridge to thaw.. I never leave it out on the counter because of the meat.
      I honestly have never used the frozen chicken breast before.. but I don't see why it wouldn't work! If you try it.. let us know how it does!

      Delete
    2. Using frozen chicken might avoid the issue of cross contamination that is mentioned later on here. It bears repeating that a cardinal rule of freezer cooking is NEVER to thaw something (meats in particular), work with it and refreeze it. It MUST be cooked once thawed, then it can be refrozen.

      Delete
  76. This is great! Found via Pinterest. Just wondered if you happen to have a printable version of these recipes? Thanks again!

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  77. Melissa, this is fantastic!! Thank you so much. I found you through Pinterest and shared your site today on my Etsy fanpage.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/EljahB/163991400290778
    I welcome you to stop by my shop as well:)
    www.eljahb.etsy.com
    Blessings!!

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  78. I'm another Pinterest user. I just wanted to say thank you for adding the shopping list. Most bloggers don't do that and it's so much easier to have it and be able to simply hit print. Thanks again! I'm loving this blog.

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  79. These were super easy to make but they need to be broken up in the bag.....I have a normal size crock pot and they did not fit. Also I am cooking them for 8 hours and they are burning....any ideas of suggestions????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Typically, when you put them in the refrigerator overnight they thaw enough that you can break them up to put them in the crockpot.
      That is strange they are burning... I will say that my 3qt slow cooker works much better than my 4qt. My 4qt has a tendency to get the edges a little "done". Do you have another crockpot you could try them in? OR... try cooking them 6 hours... most of the meals are done after 6. Or you could try High for 3-4 hours.

      Delete
  80. I don't have the patience to read all the subsequent posts, but since this idea went viral on Pinterest, I feel compelled to post this. PLEASE freeze RAW meat in a separate baggy so that you avoid cross contamination between the veggies & raw meat during the freezing/thawing processes. We do not have 'flash freezers' at home like they use in the commercial food plants. You are risking a serious foodborne illness if you do not separate these items during the freezing/thawing process. It's only one more baggy and can be kept together with the vegetable counterparts.

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    Replies
    1. You bring up an interesting point...I was wondering why this would be an issue, since all the food in the bag is getting cooked in the end?

      Delete
    2. Seriously, what is the difference if you are putting the RAW meat in with the RAW vegetables IN THE CROCKPOT without freezing - what is the issue?? Crockpots don't separate the ingredients while cooking, what's the big deal about the freezer? Like Kaya said, if everything is getting cooked, what gives?

      Delete
  81. What size crockpot do you use? I have a 6-quart one and I am worried one bag of ingredients will be too little and it will burn.

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    Replies
    1. I have a 3qt and a 4qt. You can put a oven-safe smaller vessel inside your crockpot and then put the contents of the bag in it to cook...

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  82. Can not wait to try this. So simple and easy. I dont get home from work till 7pm. So it will be nice to have the freezer meals so I can just put in crockpot in the morning and go to work. I crockpot alot but do all the work the day I cook it. Not anymore thanks to you. YOU ROCK!!!!

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  83. Love these ideas. Keep these suggestions coming! I love these crockpot ideas.

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  84. Thanks for your post with great instructions and pictures! A family member spent yesterday in her kitchen and completed all these meals and was so excited that she shared with her Facebook friends.

    Like some of the others, I also had concerns about placing the meats in the same bags as the fresh veggies due to the differing times that they would get to a frozen state. In addition, because I crockpot cook all the time, I know that often the meat and the veggies don't cook at the same speed. Often I add the veggies a couple hours later because of this (which sometimes defeats the purpose of having everything ready when you get home).

    Lastly, I would suggest not browning ground meat before including in a soup. It's really unnecessary if you use lower fat meats and definitely takes out some flavor and dries it out.

    Thanks again for all the helpful info and encouragement. I hope it gets more families back to eating healthy and eating at home!

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  85. Hi Melissa! I am a rep for a natural food company and I host a once a month freezer meal workshop. I would love to see about doing some partnering with you with some of my recipes! Some of my menus are on my Facebook page: Wildtree To You With Erin or check out my website: www.mywildtree.com/egirard

    I love helping people make yummy meals! It saves so much time and money. I will be trying your's and Stephanie's recipes this next month!

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  86. I found your blog via pinterst & have a question about the teryaki chicken...it says 1/2 a cup of sauce then another 1/4 a cup...is that 1/4 cup added later when you're acutally cooking it???

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that is correct... but honestly after trying the recipes you can just add it all at the same time when you are prepping your "bags".

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    2. So 3/4 cup total for each bag?

      Delete
  87. Hi Melissa,
    You are awesome! I just discovered freezer cooking and can't wait to get started. I've been using the crock pot a lot, never having used it but a few times before, so this is perfect.

    I'm allergic to tomatoes. Do you have a suggestion for replacing tomatoes, tomato sauce, V-8?

    Also, just curious, what is HT?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you ever used "Nomato?" It is a tomato-free substitute for recipes that call for tomato sauce or ketchup. To sub that actual tomatoes/diced tomatoes... I would say to just increase the quantities of the other vegetables or add an additional kind such as peppers. Hope this helps!

      HT is our local grocery store Harris Teeter =)

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  88. If you freeze these in ziploc bags placed inside a plastic container which fits your crock, then you can be sure it will fit FROZEN into the crock in the early morning. I have done raw meatloaf, stroganov, spaghetti sauce and lasagna, just to mention a few, this way and its is great. Just be sure to use LOW setting and don't cook more than about 6-8 hours.

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  89. Thank you so very much for sharing your freezer cooking know how. I can't wait to try it out and look forward to seeing more recipes!

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  90. Thanks for posting this! I tried the Teriyaki Chicken tonight. I was wondering if you have tried yours yet. I don't know if I did something wrong or not. Although it tasted good, it was quite soupy & the carrots didn't get done. Is it just me? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. You can add a little flour or corn starch to the sauce to thicken it up into a gravy if it is too runny. That is strange the carrots didn't get done?

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  91. Thank you so much for this post. I can't wait to try. Are you going to male another one?

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  92. I just had to let you know, I followed your plan step by step and think it was amazingly easy! I was seriously proud of the eight beautiful dinners ready to put in the freezer and then Crockpot. We had the teriyaki chicken with rice last night and it was very good. I think it was saltier than I hoped (teriyaki is salty to me), but my two kids (3 and 6) had no trouble polishing their plates and asking for more. My dad and husband liked it as well.

    The best part was that it just had to be placed in the slow cooker and left alone! :-) Thank you, thank you! You have given me the inspiration to try other freezer meals. I'll be looking for more here too. ;-)

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  93. I really don't want to rain on this parade, but I was so excited to try all of these recipes, and I convinced my sister to spend the day making these with me. After trying 2 of the recipes, I am sorry to say that they were NOT good. The beef soup had absolutely NO flavor, and there was nothing BBQ about the BBQ chicken. Mushy potatoes with chicken and mush just didn't do it for me. My sister tried the teriyaki chicken one, and although she said it was fine, she wouldn't make it again. I don't want to sound mean, but because this has been so popular on pintrest I wanted to add my two bits from someone who actually spent the time and money on these.

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    Replies
    1. Shannon- I am sorry you do not like the flavors in the recipes. Check out my Freezer Cooking #2 post http://melissafallistestkitchen.blogspot.com/2012/02/freezer-cooking-2.html
      I used a different "method" this time that may be more appealing to you.
      Some of the meals on this first try were a bit bland for me also so for round 2 I focused on no veggies, all meat.

      Delete
    2. I too am unimpressed with how these meals actually taste. I've make the teriyaki chicken and the beef stew and quite honestly am not looking forward to cooking bag#2 of each that are still in my freezer. I'll definitely be checking out the new info.

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  94. I didn't get to read all the comments. I made your meals and followed all the directions. I think it's a great idea. I cooked one bag of each this week. However, I had a problem with the meat. The chicken for both chicken recipes and the meat for the stew, they all turned out dry. it was soft and broke apart easily, but it was awfully dry each time. My husband did not eat the meat. Which is bad, since he always eats anything I make, even the not so good ones.. Lol.
    Is there something I am doing wrong? I cooked them for 8 hrs on low each time.

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    1. You could try buying Chicken pieces with the "bone-in" which will help keep the meat tender & not dry out... also, if you can try cooking on High 3-4 hours instead of low 8 hrs. Some crock-pots get "hotter" than others and on the low setting tend to dry meat out.

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  95. Do you blanch the veggies and cool them before bagging them up?

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  96. This is just WONDERFUL! I am a teacher, mom of three, and just started a small business so I NEED to do this!

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  97. looking at the comments above, this is obviously a hit. I am SO excited to do this. THANK you SO much for sharing your freezer recipes!!

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  98. Do you unfreeze or do you just drop the bag in the crock pot? I have a oval crock pot so the bags you froze flat like that wont fit in like that?

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  99. Okay, read through ALL the posts and comments. I am on the bandwagon to try this out and am holding my breath for ROUND 2. Do not be discouraged. V

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  100. Any reviews yet on how the food tasted? I'm planning on doing these soon :)

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  101. Just tried all of these (except the Balsamic & Onion pot roast) and they are now prepped and in my freezer! And I'm out of freezer space lol =) I will be sure to come back and let you know how they turned out! Thanks!!! This will help a TON when our son is born and neither of us feels like cooking! I <3 my crock pot!

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  102. This idea is fantastic. I was thinking though, if the meals could be frozen in the Slow Cooker Liners you could pop the whole thing into the pot and not have to clean it afterwards.

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  103. I'm so excited to try this - but am curious how long the prep work took you? I'm expecting my 2nd baby late summer and would love to have these meals on hand for the fall! (Sorry if I missed it in the post already :))

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  104. Not happy with how these turned out, the three I have tried all taste the same, like onions. Not sure if freezing is the best for them plus any veggies come out absolutley mush my chickens and dog will be eating well this week :(...on the plus side the balsamic & Onion potroast was excellent (the only one not frozen) will make it again!

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  105. Wow! Thank you for all your time in putting this together! This will totally help me! Love it!

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  106. I use my crockpot a lot, and can't wait to try some of these, especially the Garlic Onion and the Goulasch. That being said, I hate to be a bummer, but I won't cook them frozen.

    There isn't really much wiggle room and it isn't a matter of what someone is comfortable with as stated above (I think that's an irresponsible statement - there are clear guidelines, and one should research them, not go with their feelings or what they are comfortable with.)

    I know two families that practice horrible food safety - one is never ill - (lucky? Good immune systems? both? and the other family has the "stomach" flu at least once a month. One of their children is particularly sensitive to this flu. I've gotten ill at both of their houses. Now I suggest they come to my house for dinner...

    There are three ways, according to the FDA to thaw frozen meats: In the refrigerator, under COLD running water and in the microwave. The crock pot does not heat up to a high enough temperature fast enough to thaw safely. That's why we don't cook frozen roasts or turkeys in the oven, and the oven is MUCH faster than a crock pot. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/Focus_On_Freezing/index.asp

    Meat and Vegetables SHOULD be kept separate, and utensils, etc., should be kept separate or cleaned as well. Again, the bacteria present can multiple in the slow heat up. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Focus_On_Slow_Cooker_Safety/index.asp

    Freezing and Thawing meats/poultry/etc. is NOT an issue of safety - it's a myth. It is an issue of quality - you lose the juices as the ice crystals cut through the proteins in freeze/thaw cycles. Freezing quickly helps minimize some of this.

    Here's a great site for freezing - a lot of the universities have a cooperation with home extension programs. Here is the one from the University of Nebraska: It's full of information about quality and safety: http://food.unl.edu/web/preservation/freezing

    As far as foodborne illness, at the risk of being crass, if you've never spent a day and a half on the bathroom floor, alternating if ya know what I mean or known someone hospitalized or who's died, you may not treat it with the proper respect. The problem is, you never know - you might do the same thing for years and have no problem, but it only takes once. Here's the Center for Disease Control - they estimate one in 6 Americans annually get foodborne illness: 48 million! 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/index.html

    It takes awhile to learn these things - for a couple of years, as a young working Mom, I'd put everything in my crockpot sleeve the night before and plop it in the unit cold before I left to work. I mentioned this to my Mom, a home economics major and she had a HOLY COW! She was vehement! "Don't EVER do that again, you could get FOOD POISONING! I told her I'd been doing it for a long time, she said "I DON'T CARE...NEVER NEVER NEVER do that again, do you hear me? and then she went on with explanations as to why. (continued)

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