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Make Ahead Crockpot Meals (Only $4.40 Per Meal!)

By January 5, 2015Freezer Prep Session

Last week I was able to prepare six make ahead crockpot meals for only $26!  (That works out to only $4.40 per meal or .94 cents per serving.)  Wahoo!  Here’s what I made, including my recipes and grocery list…

Make Ahead Crockpot Meals (only $4.40 per meal!)

After spending a bajillion dollars on Christmas, I decided it would be a good idea to come up with some wallet-friendly dinner ideas for January.  My 13 month old is still attached to me 24/7, so make ahead crockpot meals have been a life-saver.  I can prep a bunch over the weekend when my husband is home and have a yummy dinner waiting in the crockpot every night.

I put my meal planning skills to the test and came up with three recipes that include a meat AND vegetable AND cost less than $5 each to make.  Impossible?  Nope!

Here’s what I made…


Here’s what I was looking for in my budget-friendly meals: affordable meats and vegetables and common ingredients that I usually have on-hand (like popular spices, onions, and potatoes).

Freezer eCookbooks

I was able to save money by doubling my recipes and making two freezer bags of each.  This helped me make the most of my ingredients by…

  • Splitting one slice of ham and one can of evaporated milk between two bags of ham and potato soup.
  • Splitting one bag of frozen corn between two bags of chicken chili.
  • Using up all of the carrots and garlic cloves that I bought.

I was also able to buy two pounds of chicken breasts and two pounds of ground beef, which is cheaper than buying only one pound at a time.  Yay!

Make Ahead Crockpot Meals (only $4.40 per meal!)

Not only did doubling my recipes save me money, but it saved me a bunch of time too.  I loved being able to use the same measurements and measuring cups for two bags at a time.

Most freezer meals will stay good in a standard fridge/freezer combo for at least 3 months, so eating a recipe twice during that time is no problem for us.  In fact, we always look forward to eating a meal again after trying it the first time.

Make Ahead Crockpot Meals (only $4.40 per meal!)

I did all of my grocery shopping at ALDI and spent a total of $26.  That works out to $4.40 per meal or .94 cents per serving!  

It took me about an hour to assemble all six of my make ahead crockpot meals.  Not bad for six dinners, right?!  To save me a little bit of time, I filled out my freezer meal labels ahead of time and used a food chopper (affiliate link) to dice my onions.  (I hate chopping onions!)

Make Ahead Crockpot Meals (only $4.40 per meal!)

If you’re new to make ahead crockpot meals, the recipes in the pdf above will walk you through the process step-by-step.  I usually prep all of my veggies at once and then focus on one recipe at a time in an assembly line.  It’s so easy, I promise!

For more advice, you can also check out my blog post with eight healthy crockpot freezer meals and my No Cook Freezer Meals cookbook.

Make Ahead Crockpot Meals (only $4.40 per meal!)

Thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.



  • […] from New Leaf Wellness has a list of Make Ahead Crockpot Meals that you can whip up for just $4.40 per […]

    • Donna says:

      What a great idea and time saver. Would you please email these and any other make ahead dinner recipes to me?

      • Kelly says:

        Hi Donna! You can print the recipes right from this post. 🙂 Thanks so much for the encouragement. If you want to subscribe to my blog posts via email or sign up for my email newsletter, check out the bottom of my site. I try to update my readers regularly that way.

        • Cheryl says:

          i also cant find these 3 recipes – it says they are below but they are not there.

          • Ann says:

            Cheryl – The link is in the middle just above the picture of the chopper that says – Make Ahead Crockpot Meals – Recipes & Grocery List. I just clicked on it and it worked.

    • Leann says:

      Excited that I Just found you! Eager to try all your recipes, but need to know what EVOO is? Or is it EVOD?
      Thank you.

    • Rachel says:

      I love these recipes!! I was wondering how long you suggested cooking the white chili if you aren’t going to cook the chicken in it? I am planning on cooking up a whole chicken and freezing it in separate bags for future meals.

    • Barbara Barber says:

      I am looking at making the White Chicken Chili, Ham and Potato Soup and the Hamburger and Vegetable soup freezer meals. Do you have to cook them first or do you put them in the freezer bags all raw and then cook them in the crock pot for how long? I am trying to fill up my parents freezer with easy meals for my dad to do as my mom no longer cooks much since she is unable to.

  • Candice says:

    How many servings do these bags make? Thanks!

  • Candice says:

    Nevermind my comment, I see the servings on the links you gave for the recipes!

  • Jennifer says:

    I bought everything to make these today but couldn’t find barley anywhere and I went to three different stores! Any ideas of something I could substitute?

  • Sarah says:

    Suggestion for meal planning- We always cook our ground beef before freezing. It’s faster to thaw and less mess.

    • Celia says:

      We always cook ours ahead, too! I have heard people say that it comes out drier when recooking, but I haven’t run into that in my experience. I just cook up about 4 lbs of ground beef and portion it out into 5 or 6 freezer bags to make it stretch further.

    • Nancy says:

      Look next to the dried beans in your grocery store. That is where I find it. I would omit the barley. I know the barley is used to help thicken the soup, but it made it slimy for use. Also cut the potatoes very small, our potatoes didn’t cook all the way.

  • Amy Atkinson says:

    Love this – just curious each bag lists that you add broth to them – what type do you use & do you make your own???

    • Kelly says:

      I typically like to use bullion granules because I can freeze them right in the bag and only need to add water when cooking. Sometimes I give freezer meals to my parents though, and when I do that I tell them to add broth because my mom doesn’t like the salt in bullion.

      When I buy broth, I buy it in the carton. Anything organic, free-range, and low sodium would be great. (I’m not loyal to any specific brand.) I also buy whatever is on sale if I’m trying to save money.

      I made my own chicken stock for the first time last week and froze it. Can’t wait to see how it works in future recipes! 🙂

  • […] Crockpot Recipes – Here is a list of Make Ahead Crockpot Meals that you can make for just $4.40 per […]

  • Sandy says:

    Hi Kelly! I’ve been inspired by your blog and recipes. When I first tried the ginger-peach chicken, my son said it was one of the best dinners I had ever made (and I consider myself a good cook!). Today I am trying the balsamic beef roast with carrots. It’s cooking now and smells delicious. I’ll be trying more of your recipes now that the holidays are over and we’re in the cold, hunker-down months. I’m also from Pittsburgh!

  • […] from New Leaf Wellness has a list of Make Ahead Crockpot Meals that you can whip up for just $4.40 per […]

  • Tricia says:

    Hi Kelly! U am new to the blog but am really excited! I can’t wait to try some of these! They look delicious! I am from Pittsburgh too!!!

  • Zoe says:

    Is it really necessary for these to be thawed?

    • Kelly says:

      I recommend thawing them because I think it’s safer for the meat. (Plus, it’s hard to fit a frozen square block in an oval crockpot!) If I forget to thaw overnight, I do a quick thaw in water. The meal doesn’t have to be 100% thawed. It’s up to you though – I know some people add frozen meat to their crockpot and think it’s just fine.

  • michelle says:

    Do you know you can make broth in your crockpot? I do that all the time. I usually use two kg of beef bones for five liters of water. All you need is a mirepoix made of one onion, peeled, halved; ten cloves of garlic, crushed; one potato and one carrot, unpeeled, washed and brushed well; a fistfull of parsley and scallion tied together (if no scallion use celery stalks instead, about 10 stalks with leaves). Wash the bones with cold water (if it’s already clean no need to wash them), put the veggies, bones and water into the crockpot. Set for medium heat and leave overnight (around 6-8 hours). Once it’s done, throw all the onions, garlic and parsley/scallion/celery stalk. You can used the potato and carrot for making mashed food. Usually from 5 liters you get around 4.5 liters of stock. No need to add salt unless you want to. If you can’t find any beef bones, you can use chicken instead and the boiled chicken meat can be used for soups ingredients

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle! I cooked a whole chicken in my crockpot last week for the first time and used the bones to make broth. I’m looking forward to trying it again and I appreciate your tips. Thanks!!

  • Lívia says:

    Hi, I would like to ask you, that raw potatoes freeze really well? I heard they wiill be black after thawing…
    Lívia (from Hungary, the other side of the world)

    • Kelly says:

      I had a bad experience years ago when someone made me a beef stew with potatoes and they turned black and ruined the whole meal! It was bad enough to keep me from trying to freeze them myself for some time, but I tried the ham and potato soup recipe from Once a Month Meals and it worked out perfectly. In my recipes, I explain that it’s important to cut the potatoes right before freezing. I think you could run into a problem if they’re exposed to air for too long before freezing, but otherwise they’re great. We already ate three of these meals and they’re perfectly delicious! 🙂

      • Lívia says:

        Thank you for your advice. I’ve got 3 kids too (3, 2.5 years old and a 9 weeks old) and your freezer to crockpot method sounds really great. In my country slow cookers are very rare, most people never heard of them, but I’m thinking of buying one from amazon. Unfortunately the shipping and the tax make it quite expensive…
        Best wishes to your blog, I find it very helpful.
        (and sorry for my english, I guess I’ve made a lot of mistakes)

        • Kelly says:

          Thanks for taking the time to share, Livia. I have three young children too, and my crockpot is a lifesaver. I hope you find something that works for you.

        • Judy says:

          Hello Kelly,
          I was reading thru the comments listed here and might have a suggestion for your reader Livia, I live in the Netherlands , and like Hungary, you never seen slow cookers anywhere. Last month ( December 2014) a catalog store named WEHKAMP has them listed. Livia another suggestion or comment i have is that you also have to watch where you buy electrical items because of the differences in electrical outlets and voltages, please save your self hassles and heart break by not buying anything made in the UNITED STATES or UNITED KINGDOM that are not listed for your country as being usable. I will list the website at the bottom here so that you can go online and look at them, there is also another company in Germany that might also sell them named OTTO.
          I hope this helps and happy cooking!

          p.s i know these are for the netherlands but once inside the catalog you can find your countries website


        • Tina says:

          Livia – I think your English is great!

      • Carolynn Wiens says:

        I was wondering the same thing because I’ve heard frozen raw potatoes turn black. But thanks for the advice and I think I’m going to give it a try.

        • Kelly says:

          I’d love to know if it works for you, Carolynn. I’m excited to try more recipes with potatoes now.

          • Mindy says:

            My potatoes turned to mush and are discolored. Will it ruin the whole soup or try to eat around it??

          • Kelly says:

            Oh, no! I’m trying to get to the bottom of why they turn black for some people and not for others. I know it’s important to freeze right after cutting, but if you did that, then I would skip thawing next time. Put the meal right in the crockpot frozen. My raw potatoes have been freezing fine. Sorry about that, Mindy!

  • […] Crockpot Recipes: Here is a list of Make Ahead Crockpot Meals that you can make for just $4.40 per […]

  • […] Crockpot Recipes – Here is a list of Make Ahead Crockpot Meals that you can make for just $4.40 per […]

  • Donna says:

    Hi Kelly,
    How long can you leave these meals in a freezer before cooking them?

  • Betty says:

    I just tried to download the “$4.40 per meal make ahead crock pot meals”. My Norton anti-virus won’t allow it due to malware. These sound like awesome recipes. Any suggestions as to the best way to acquire them?

  • corinna says:

    I just wanted to say that I always take a 3-4lb package of chicken creasts and salt and pepper them and put them in the crockpot and fill with water and cook on low for 8 hours. Then I remove checken and let it cool and shred it and put 2 cups ea into freezer bags then freeze or use the broth for soup. This saves me a ton of time and I can even use the chicken in another crockpot recipe but because the meat is cooked and I don;t have to worry about it getting “tough” I can cook the recipe on high if I want to. This also makes casseroles a snap as well as fajitas. And as for Sarah and Celia commenting on precooking ground beef, well I take 5lbs and put it in a large pot and fill with water and a few diced onions and sometimes a diced bell pepper and salt and pepper and boil the meat. It boils into a fine grind we enjoy and because I mainly use it for soups and casseroles we cut back on meat and I can get 9 bags out of this and we NEVER feel like there isn’t enough meat in a dish and I can always use 2 if its sloppy joes. Its cheaper too to buy meat in bulk packages at our market but we always have elk in the freezer and I just use that. Sometimes on a busy morning I forget that I’m cooking in the crockpot and it’s nice to have some soup recipes that I can put in for 4 hours at the last minute with precooked meat. I just love your site and freezing raw is new to me (I’ve frozen cooked for over a decade). Thanks so much for all the great choices.

  • Sheila says:

    I thought potatoes turned brown if thet weren’t covered with liquid, have you experienced that? Thanks for sharing, you’ve changed the way I cook!!

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks so much, Sheila. I cut my potatoes right before freezing and they turn out fine. I think the trick is to make sure that they don’t have contact with the air for too long before freezing.

  • Debbie says:

    Do you have a comparable recipes of vegetarian/vegan crock pot meals?

  • Jamie says:

    I am a single woman and I have been thinking that crock pot meals would be such a good money and time saver for me!! But my slow cooker is a tiny one, how do these recipes translate to a tiny slow cooker?

    • Kelly says:

      What do you consider tiny? I typically use a 7-qt slow cooker, but I’m pretty sure these would all work in my 4-qt one too. If yours is smaller than that, I’d try cutting them in half.

  • Karen says:

    For the crockpot hamburger veggie soup, what happens to the grease/fat when you cook the raw hamburger in the crockpot? Or do you just use really lean meat?

  • Carole-Anne Taillefer says:

    I purchased the eBook bundle this morning (about 4h ago) and I still did not receive anything… ALthough i did receive the payment confirmation and everything… It is mentionned on your site that i am supposed to receive the pDF right away by email… how come I did not receive them yet?

    • Kelly says:

      Just replied to your email and sent you new copies of the eBooks. They must have gone straight to your spam the first time or gotten lost in cyberspace somewhere. Sorry about that!

  • I bought all the ingredients last week and my husband made them over the weekend (while he stayed home from church with our sick son). He said it took more like 2 hours with all the gathering, chopping, measuring and keeping 6 recipes straight but that still isn’t bad for 6 meals. He also browned the ground meat (we used turkey) before adding it to the bag. Thanks for sharing the recipes!

  • Tina says:

    Hi – I really want to try the ham & potato soup – I am lactose intolerant. What could I substitute for the evap milk? I’d hate to be sick for 3 days esp since I’m sure the soup is divine!

    • Kelly says:

      I have no idea. Maybe a lactose-free milk? If there’s a whole milk or heavy cream option, I think that would be better than a lactose-free skim.

  • Danielle says:

    Hey there! Can you tell me where you got those fabulous labels for the bags? 🙂

  • Pia says:

    I have tried two of the meals so far and my family loved them — although I prepared and cooked them each the same day they were served. However, I am trying the potato soup from the freezer. Reading through the comments has me afraid that my first attempt at a made-ahead freezer meal will be a fail! Have you ever had problems with your potatoes? Is there a way to tell if your potatoes will turn black? I’ve been looking online and everyone says that it’s impossible to avoid! I just don’t want the meal I already prepared to be ruined…

    • Kelly says:

      I haven’t had a problem with mine, but it does seem common. Since the ham is already cooked, I would skip the thawing step and see if that makes a difference. Just break up the frozen meal and put it right in the crockpot. If you have time, I’d love to know how it goes. I’m so glad the other two meals were a success. 🙂

      • Pia says:

        The potatoes were fine! My first adventure into make-ahead meals was a success! In fact, this recipe, of the three, was our favorite — or mine, at least. I did skip thawing and went straight into the pot. I subbed turkey bacon for the ham, because we don’t eat pork, and it was very flavorful. Maybe the potatoes were ok because the meal wasn’t frozen for very long — just two days… Whatever the case, I’m just glad it worked!
        Thanks for the recipes! I love your site!

  • Cindy says:

    How many people does each recipe feed? Is that information somewhere? Is it the same for every recipe? We’re a family of 7 so we’re not your typical ‘average’ family size. 🙂

    • Kelly says:

      It varies by recipe, but is listed in the printable pdf. If you open that document, you can see the number of servings listed with each recipe. Hope this helps.

  • Erin says:

    I am making two batches of the white chicken chili for my family and for my sister in law who just had a baby. Did it turn out creamy? I just noticed that there are no ingredients to make it that wAy… Or does everything just break down enough into a creamy consistency? Thanks!

  • Mary says:

    How long can you freeze them for

  • nahomi says:

    Hello, I love this and I’m thinking of doing this. I’m question is…the list of groceries needed are not yet doubled correct? That would be something I needed to do. Thank you in advance

  • Sandy says:

    Hi Kelly,
    I purchased your e-mail cookbook bundle and received payment confirmation. I did not receive anything in my e-mail account. I also checked my spam/junk folder. Your web-site mentions that it would be available immediately.

    • Kelly says:

      Oh no! I’m so sorry about that! It must have gotten lost in cyberspace somewhere. I just emailed new copies to the outlook email address that you supplied with your comment. If you don’t get my email for some reason, email me at kelly@newleafwellness.biz and I’ll respond with your copies ASAP. Thank you for your purchase!

  • Anisha Gatner says:

    I am a busy working mother of four……thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this….I’m so excited to try it out!

  • Karen says:

    OH my gosh. I made these and it was pure magic. I will definitely be making these again (and again, and agaaain) Thanks!

  • Lindsey says:

    I am new to freezer/crock pot meals. I wanted to try it for a long time but didn’t know where to start. I finally did it! I have a large family, so I started with your Freezer Meals from Costco list. I have made numerous recipes (all yours), and every single one turned out perfectly! I absolutely love these make ahead meals; PLEASE keep them coming 🙂

  • Danielle says:

    I see that all of your recipes are for 6 servings. It’s just myself and my fiance’ in our family right now and I’m worried that 6 servings will be too much for us. Would it work to cut the recipes in half and put them in smaller bags? So, instead of doubling the recipe and making two gallon size bags worth, just using enough for one gallon size bag but splitting it into quart size bags? Would that work? I’m new to this, so forgive me if this is a silly question.

    • Kelly says:

      No such thing as a silly question. Yes, I would cut the recipes with six servings in half. That shouldn’t be a problem at all.

  • Libby says:

    Hi Kelly,
    Love this post. Quick question. You say you made two bags of each meal, does that mean you doubled the recipe on the links you share? Thanks!

  • Libby says:

    I just finished eating the ham and potato soup and it was excellent! I used left over ham I made in the crock pot the day before plus stock from a whole chicken I made in the crockpot a while back. Delish! I’m excited to try the other two in a few days.

  • Kelly says:

    Hi there! I am so excited to make this that I bought half the stuff today! I am amazed that you were able to get all the ingredients for only 26 bucks. Are you from the states? Like I said, I’m only half way and already at $40!!!! I am from Canada, so maybe things are more pricey here but like I said, I’m amazed you got all that for $26!

    • Kelly says:

      Yes, I’m in Pittsburgh, PA. $26 USD would be more like $31 Canadian dollars. I shopped at a US grocery store called ALDI, which is known for discount prices. Hope you love the recipes. 🙂

  • jamie says:

    I see that everything looks frozen together. So do you dump the raw chicken in the crockpot at the same time? if so then how do you shred it? or should i just cut into chucnks when raw and leave it that way?

    • Kelly says:

      I thaw my meals and shred the chicken after it’s done cooking. If that doesn’t make sense, the recipes in the pdf explain the process step-by-step.

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  • Sue says:

    We have a family of 7 so I usually double recipes. Can I double this in the crockpot or would it not cook evenly?

    • Kelly says:

      You would need a large crockpot, at LEAST 6 quarts. You might need to decrease the amount of chicken broth in the hamburger soup and chili, but otherwise I think it would work.

  • Emilie says:

    Do you blanch your potatoes before freezing

  • Ann says:

    Can’t wait to try these. What size of a crock pot do you use? Also, I leave the house at 6AM and return at 3:30, any suggestions on how to not over cook these recipes?

    • Kelly says:

      I own a couple but use my 6-quart most often because it has a timer. I would focus on recipes with longer cooking times, like soups, chilis, and roasts. You could also look into buying a slow cooker with a timer at some point. I bought one earlier this year for less than $50 and it’s amazing.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing so generously!

  • […] for freezable recipes on the Internet. This gal is one of my favourites because she incorporates my two favourite kitchen tools: a freezer and a […]

  • Kathy says:

    I enjoyed preparing these meals for freezing and tried the first one today – the hamburger veggie soup. Sadly, we were really disappointed. I followed the directions and used raw hamburger meat but definitely should have browned it first (as suggested by others above) since the texture, after cooking in liquid, came out really unappetizing. Also, I found the flavour really bland. If I make this again, I will cook the meat first and definitely add more herbs/spices. I’m hoping that these tweeks will make the difference.

  • […] Crockpot White Chicken Chili from New Leaf Wellness. I’ll make enough for  2 meals if possible so i don’t waste […]

  • Heather says:

    I forgot to freeze my Ham and Potato Soup ingredients! If I cook this in Crock Pot on high, how long do you think it would take?

  • Dana says:

    So, I am really interested in trying the Ham and potato soup, but does it really only make 4 servings? I have 2 adults 1 teen boy and 2 younger kids so I need a minimum of 5 servings! Can the gallon bag fit enough to feed my whole brood?

  • Micki says:

    Hi there. I am so excited to try these meals! However when in was preparing the ham and potato soup I didn’t realize I was supposed to keep the evaporated milk separate from the other ingredients. Do you think it will still turn out okay?
    Thank you and happy new year!

  • Anne says:

    I couldn’t find the bouillon granules. Could I substitute bouillon cubes?

  • […] Make inexpensive crockpot meals – Meal planning can be a huge money saver, but I don’t know about you, I really don’t want to spend a ton of time just to save a tiny bit of money. A great way to save time and money is with crockpot freezer meals. Easy, quick prep and really low cost. Check out these options from New Leaf Wellness. […]

  • […] Make ahead crockpot meals (only $4.40 per meal!) […]

  • Verdonna Quintanilla says:

    I’m on weight watchers & wanted to know if you have the nutrition value on the recipes? Thank you.

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