When I was very pregnant with Baby Girl, the doctor started talking induction and I became more and more obsessed with the avoidance of an induction. I walked, I ate spicy foods, I walked, I did EVERYTHING I could trying to get Baby Girl to join us. No go. I had contractions that went nowhere for days…she was nice and comfy. Finally, after lots of debating and looking at my past deliveries, we set a date for induction. Well, this hadn’t happened with either of the boys, so I had major anxiety. I decided to put my Thanksgiving break and nervous energy to use and be uber prepared for an easy Welcome Home. In retrospect, I wish I had done this with all of my deliveries. This list is super awesome for anyone coming home from deployment, surgery, a new baby or just heading into a really busy season…cough, cough, the HOLIDAYS.
Needless to say, where there is anxiety, there is chocolate and compulsions. Logically, I became obsessed with Pinterest and found Saving You Dinero and it was amazing! Bless Janell’s heart, she had done all of the organizing and testing for me. I found the recipes with the least processed foods, gave Man a small disclaimer that I was about to experiment on our family (thankfully I was super pregnant and he didn’t argue), and went shopping. It did raise some eyebrows when I spent all day Thanksgiving cooking and wouldn’t let anyone eat any of it.
Below are the recipes our family decided were for keeps. We did try others from her website, but they just weren’t ones we would eat over and over. Plus, it’s hard to keep up, she makes great updates all the time!
Freezer Supreme Pizza Pasta
This has been a hit with the kids. I found it as a crockpot meal, and tweaked it a little, but hours & hours seemed like overkill. You can thaw and heat on the stove for a quick to the table dinner – it needs just long enough for flavors to meld.
Serves 6-8 (makes 2 quart sized bags w/ little leftovers) = 2 freezer meals
1 ½ lb ground meat (maybe split between sausage & ground beef)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
16 oz can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
10 oz spiral or other pasta(note this is not a full pound of pasta)
2 cups shredded cheese (I use a mix of cheddar and Italian style cheeses)
1 sleeve uncured pepperoni (chop and add at end)
1 small can sliced black olives (added last 30 min)
1 handful green olives (added last 30 min)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (added last 30 min)
6 Tablespoons of parmesan cheese (added last 30 min)
Cook ground beef. Drain and cool completely. (Or you can cook it the morning you prepare the meal and add it to the crock pot.) Add it to the freezer bag with the green pepper, onion, celery, garlic cloves, tomatoes, chili pepper, salt, and pepper.
Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours on low.
Last 30 minutes, add olives, oregano and parmesan.
When it’s almost done, cook pasta according to package and drain.
Add cooked pasta, 1cup of cheese and pepperoni to the crock pot and mix well.
Add more cheese to the top and serve!
Salad and breadsticks
Steamed Green Beans
Garlic Lime Chicken
Serves 4-6 (makes 1 gallon sized bag – easily adjusted depending on how many chicken breasts you buy) = 1 freezer meal
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes) – used ¼ cup from little plastic lime
1 cup water (I like to use low-sodium chicken stock)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
Add all the ingredients to freezer bag. Lay flat and freeze.
Write on the bag
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
Spoon over a bowl of cilantro lime rice
Shred and chill for a quick salad topper
The flavors in this dish are good, but we are not fans of the texture that comes from cooking chicken in a crockpot. I would not normally braise a chicken breast. I recommend picking up some chicken cutlets and using the ingredients to create a Texan Chicken Piccata (lime for lemon, no capers) and serving over Angel Hair or zucchini Pasta & EVOO. If you go this route, don’t use the cup of water, just add a splash of white wine or chicken stock.
Garlic Honey Chicken
Serves 4-6 (Makes 1 gallon size freezer bag) = 1 freezer meal
1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken (defrost if using frozen chicken) – going straight from freezer made the sauce too thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
½ cup honey
Add all the sauce ingredients to a quart size freezer bag & seal. Freeze sauce and buy fresh chicken when ready to make or place in a gallon size freezer bag with chicken portioned out.
Lay flat and freeze.
If using frozen chicken, defrost chicken and sear before adding to crock pot.
Write on the bag
Cook 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low (reduce cooking time if you thaw and sear chicken).
Rice and steamed veggies, stir fried noodles use chicken wings & drummettes for a tailgate version
Shredded Beef Tacos
Serves 6-8 (1 gallon sized freezer bag) I have made this recipe and frozen the leftovers as a second meal = 1-2 freezer meals
1 London Broil, chuck or top round roast (about 2 lbs), seasoned liberally with salt and pepper
1 cup beef stock
1 diced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (you can adjust this according to your taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
for garnish: grated Monterrey Jack Cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, lime slices
Add all the ingredients to a gallon size freezer bag & seal. Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
When you are ready to cook the meal, dump the contents of the bag into the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
When the meat is cooked, you will need to strain the juices and add the juice back to the slow cooker. Shred the meat and add back to the juice in the slow cooker for about 30 minutes. Sometimes there is too much juice, so add it back slowly until you get your desired meat to liquid ratio.
Other taco fixings – feta or Monterrey jack shredded cheese sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
Teriyaki Pork Chops
Serves 4 (1 gallon size freezer bag) = 1 freezer meal
4 pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste (you can sprinkle them before you add them to the bag.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup chicken broth
Add the pork chops, garlic cloves, brown sugar, soy sauce, and chicken broth to freezer bag. Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
Another Freezer/Crockpot Favorite
Paula Deen’s BBQ Pulled Pork This one is really great from the oven or smoker, but if you have to be away, it turns out great in the slow cooker too.
Serves 8-10 or 4-6 with leftovers
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons black pepper
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons paprika
½ – ¾ teaspoon cayenne
4 pound shoulder pork roast (we use pork sirloin roast, picnic or butt)
2 cups apple juice
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
1/2 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
buns or rolls – awesome with King’s Hawaiian or homemade cheddar bread
Mix the dry rub ingredients in small bowl. Sprinkle dry rub all over the pork roast, pressing into the pork. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I usually just rub the pork the night before.
Dutch Oven Method
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine liquid ingredients and the garlic powder in a medium bowl and pour into a large Dutch oven. Place pork in the oven and tightly cover with aluminum foil then lid. Roast for 4 hours or until fork tender and shreds easily.
Slow Cooker Method
Combine liquid ingredients and the garlic powder in a medium bowl and pour into slow cooker. Place pork on top and tightly cover with aluminum foil then lid. Roast for 6 hours on low or until fork tender and shreds easily. Remove from oven or slow cooker and let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred the pork with a fork or tongs into bite size pieces.
Make sliders with brown and serve or King’s Hawaiian rolls or also great on a sesame seed bun
What are some of your favorite recipes for the freezer & slow cooker? Please share!