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28 slow cooker freezer meals in 3 hours (and my 7 best tips for a freezer prep day)

By June 12, 2015Freezer Prep Session

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day
My mom and I got together and made 28 slow cooker freezer meals.  Wahoo!  It took us almost three hours, and our legs were tired, but now we’re stocked with healthy meals for the summer.

Here’s what we made…

  1. Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  2. BBQ Baby Back Ribs
  3. BBQ Chicken
  4. Chicken Cheesesteaks
  5. Chicken Taco Soup
  6. Chicken Tortilla Soup
  7. Chili-Spiced Beef and Carrots
  8. Classic Pot Roast
  9. Creamy Potato Soup
  10. Garden Vegetable Soup with Ground Turkey
  11. Grandma’s Beef stew
  12. Hamburger Potato Soup
  13. Honey Dijon Chicken
  14. Italian-Style Pot Roast
  15. Jalapeno Lime Shredded Pork Tacos
  16. Lemon Pepper Chicken
  17. Mediterranean Shredded Pork Pita Pockets
  18. Minestrone Soup
  19. “Monster” Cheeseburgers
  20. Orange-Ginger Shredded Beef with Soy Glaze
  21. Orange Ginger Chicken
  22. Pulled Pork
  23. Red Pepper Chicken
  24. Shredded Buffalo chicken
  25. Sloppy Joes
  26. Spicy Beef Curry Stew
  27. Super Simple Meatball Veggie Soup
  28. Taco Chili with Cornbread Topping


CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL GROCERY LIST

The recipes are from my CROCK’D Slow Cooker Freezer Meals eBook and it was so fun to make them all at once.

Freezer eCookbooks

If you want to plan your own big freezer meal prep day, here are seven things that I learned from making all these meals:

1. Start with the recipes.

Pick recipes that will set you up for success.  I highly recommend using slow cooker freezer meals or other recipes that don’t require any cooking ahead of time.  Our freezer prep was so simple because all we had to do was combine the meat, vegetables, sauces, and spices and freeze.

2. Make a grocery list and shop ahead of time.

I used the grocery list from my eBook and shopped at Aldi, Costco, and a local grocery store.  I ended up spending a total of $241, which works out to $8.60 per meal or $1.05 per serving.  Such a great deal!

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

3. Make some room in your refrigerator and freezer.

I stored my freezer meals in the extra refrigerator in our basement.  If you don’t have an extra one, just clean out some space in your kitchen refrigerator’s freezer.

4. Print your recipes and fill out your freezer meal labels.

It’s best to do this the day ahead of time to save time on your prep day.  Label your meals with the following:

  • The name of the recipe
  • The “use-by” date (three months from the prep day)
  • The ingredients inside (optional, but nice if you’re going to give some of your freezer meals to someone else)
  • The cooking instructions, including if you need to thaw before cooking, if anything needs to be added the day of cooking (like chicken broth), and how long the meal needs to cook in the slow cooker

I printed the labels from my eBook on sticker labels and stuck them to the bags.  So easy!

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

5. Do some prep work ahead of time.

This is optional, but it can save you a lot of time.  I decided to peel and chop my carrots and onions the day ahead of time.  My food chopper made dicing the onions a breeze!

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

6. Set up your prep stations.

When my mom and I got together we organized the kitchen into four prep “stations”:

  1. Fresh veggies and fruits
  2. Spices
  3. Canned goods
  4. Space for both of us to work with cutting boards

We kept the meat in the refrigerator and grabbed it as we needed it.  We put our finished freezer meals in the refrigerator too.

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

7. Prep your meals!

There’s really no right or wrong way to fill your freezer bags.  My mom focused on one recipe at a time while I worked in an assembly line to fill 4-5 bags at a time.

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

We listened to music and talked as we worked.  It was a lot of fun and we decided we should start getting together once a month to prep meals like this.  It only took us three hours to prep all 28 slow cooker freezer meals and clean-up the kitchen!  Now we’re set with healthy meals for summer.

Tips and Tricks For a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

When we were done, we split up the meals and I took mine home to freeze.  I’ve already made four of the meals and they were DELICIOUS.  Having meals waiting in the freezer is seriously the best thing ever.

Sloppy Joes

Tips and Tricks for a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

Creamy Potato Soup

Tips and Tricks for a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

Jalapeno Lime Shredded Pork Tacos

Tips and Tricks for a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

Taco Chili with Cornbread Topping

Tips and Tricks for a Big Freezer Meal Prep Day

YUM.

Thoughts or questions?  Please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.  I’d love to hear from you. 


P.S. If you’re new to freezer cooking, my crockpot freezer cookbooks have a lot of great recipes and tips.

82 Comments

  • Gwen says:

    I ordered the bundle today but haven’t received my email yet. How long does it take to show up?

  • Lesli says:

    Hi, I just tried to purchase your ebook bundle using my credit card and it refused it as I already have a Paypal account and will only let me purchase using that account. But I don’t want to use my paypal account to purchase. I haven’t used it in over 5 years and I don’t want to start it up again. Is there any way to get around this problem?

    Thanks.

  • Lori says:

    Hi, I know you have answered this before. But I’m cooking for a family of five and would also like leftovers. Should I just double the recipes? I have a 6qt slow cooker can it fit two bags of food?

    • Kelly says:

      It depends on the recipe. I would buy large roasts (3lbs+), double or triple the chicken breasts, and make the soups/stews/chilis as-is (because I don’t think more than that will fit in your slow cooker). You might be able to add a little extra meat to soup/stew/chili.

  • KB says:

    I love these meals! My husband and I prep on Sundays for our family of 6! He cuts the veggies while I load the bags with the other stuff! I love that I can do a month worth of meals for cheap and easy cooking! I’m a military wife and also love that I can pre-make meals for when he leaves!

  • Donna says:

    Is it necessary for me to find out if my freezer goes down to 0 degrees? It just has the numbers 1 to 10. I have no idea what the temperature is. I want to make sure its cold enough to kill any microbes in the meat.

    • Kelly says:

      It’s up to you. I have my set on the “recommended setting” (I think that’s somewhere in the middle) and I’m not worried about it.

  • Heather says:

    I love this, and the dishes you have listed sound great! This is going to sound crazy, but it looks like they would be easily adaptable to be gluten free..is that the case?

    • Kelly says:

      Yes, I think most of them are naturally gluten-free. You’d just have to check the sauces you buy for hidden sources of gluten in the soy sauce, tomato sauce, etc.

  • Kerri says:

    Just read through this and this sounds great! I love to cook but can’t imagine preparing that many meals in one day! How do I get the recipes, or do I have to purchase your ebook? Thanks!

  • Tracy says:

    Hi, this looks great, loved the ideas.
    This might be a silly question… but do you need to blanche the raw vegetables before freezing?

  • Dede says:

    I still have not received my email to download the recipes . Could you please try again?

  • robin.hirsche says:

    I purchased the ebooks and am wondering how long it takes to receive them? I’m excited to get started!

    • Kelly says:

      You should receive them via email a minute or two after purchase. If for some reason you don’t, please email me at kelly@newleafwellness.biz and I will respond with new copies for you. Thank you for your purchase, Robin! I hope you love the recipes. 🙂

  • Kirsten says:

    Hi there. Thanks for this amazing site! So, these 28 recipes are in the ebook to purchase?

  • Tina says:

    Hi! This probably sounds silly but do you cook the meat before you package it with the other ingredients?

    Thank you

    • Kelly says:

      Nope. That’s one of the reasons that you can prep so many meals in a such a short period of time.

      • Katie says:

        Do none of the recipes use ground meat? I have the understanding that all ground meat must be pre-cooked before going into a slow cooker for food safety. But if none of the recipes use it, that would make sense.

        • Katie says:

          Ah I just looked it up – I didn’t realize I was mistakenly informed! But I might test with a thermometer just in case 🙂

  • Linda says:

    I’m really excited to get going on these meals!! I was wondering- how many servings per meal and on average how many hrs. will the crockpot meals cook? I love crockpot cooking, but often things are cooked much sooner than when I need them. Thank you SO much for helping to simplify my life!

    • Kelly says:

      I would say the average is 4-6 servings per meal and the cooking times are something like 6-8 hours. The actual time will depend on the size/strength of your slow cooker though. My 4-qt always needs at least 8 hours, but my 6-qt is often done in as little as 4.

    • Erica says:

      I just purchased a plug timer off of Amazon because I have this same problem. I leave before 7am and don’t get home until after 6pm some days. I’m hoping that having a programmable plug timer will allow me to make even more crock pot meals because I don’t have to worry about being gone for several hours more than the recipe calls for.

  • Nicole says:

    We have been experimenting with freezer meals for a just little bit and have found a few sites that outline shopping list, recipes, AND step-by-step instructions. I find those are extremely helpful for me. Does the eBook include a step-by-step for putting together the 28 meals in one shot?

    • Kelly says:

      The recipes in the eBook include step-by-step instructions, but they are by recipe. Since none of the recipes require any cooking ahead of time, I don’t think extra info is necessary. You can focus on filling one bag at a time or do a few at once.

  • Joy says:

    Super excited to receive your ebook bundle, Kelly.
    Your meal plans seem even easier than WildTree because I can use my own spices. We are a retired couple on the go, a lot. I plan to make and stock up the freezer in our travel trailer and be happy knowing that we can have a great meal waiting for us after a day of doing “whatever”. And, the thought of a ready meals waiting at home is a bonus!

  • Paula says:

    My daughter and I combined several of the plans and made three bags of each recipe — one for her, one for me, and one for my son who is living in an apartment on campus with four boys! We made over 75 bags and filled her freezer! I prepared all the labels and bought all the groceries the two days prior to our session. I would set out the ingredients, give her the stickered bags and then do the sealing and storing while she kept filling bags with the ingredients.
    The ONLY problem we had was — the stickers did not stick to the plastic bags. Thankfully I still had packing tape in my car and we were able to tape the labels on the bags. Seven hours for 75+ meals — what a feeling of accomplishment and a great way to start the school year!

  • Paula says:

    My chicken and pork come our really soft and mealy/grainy. Am I cooking them too long? Otherwise, I’ve had great success withe the meals and my family loves them!

  • Michelle says:

    Wow Paula, That is fantastic! Just last week I worked all Thursday afternoon to fill 8 bags of crockpot meals. I am trying to prep meals for my hubby and kiddos, for the week that I will be on a mother daughter trip with our 14 year old in a few weeks. Your recipes are great! I used several of yours and a few of our old favorites 🙂

  • Afton says:

    This last weekend, my sister and I prepared all of your 31 back to school freezer meals. We are extremely excited to try them! If I purchase your bundle, how many new recipes would I be getting?

    • Kelly says:

      There are over 50 recipes. 55 or 56, I think. Some of the recipes in this post are similar to favorites in the book though (maybe 5-10 of them).

  • Amanda says:

    HI. Very excited to start. I purchased the ebundle plus the extra added bonus book, but still waiting on the email.

    • Kelly says:

      I just sent you an email, Amanda. It looks like your order didn’t go through. If you received a receipt or saw a charge to your credit card please respond to my email and I will send new copies ASAP. I apologize for any inconvenience.

  • Gayla says:

    I just started prepping some of the recipes. My hubby was so impressed that he asked if he could take one bag of the pre-made chicken fajitas up camping with him this week with our girls. I told him what he’d need to get to serve with them (tortillas, etc), put the chicken and all the other fixings together for him, and put it in the fridge for him to take. They all seemed very excited about the prospect of having a meal they just have to toss into a frying pan when they’re ready to eat.

    As for the rest, I made the veggie soup with meat, and a few other recipes that are currently in my freezer waiting for the days we need some food ready (like next week, when school starts again!!) I’m going to make a bunch more in the evenings this week while they’re away and stock the downstairs freezer. these are so great!!

  • Tara says:

    I have prepped freezer meals before, but if it had ground beef we cooked that beforehand. How does it work to make something like Sloppy Joe’s without pre – cooking it?

  • Paula says:

    I just got the bundle cookbooks. For the chicken recipes (i.e Shredded BBQ chicken), you can’t use already frozen chicken breasts can you? Shouldn’t re-freeze. I guess i could use the frozen ones for that day though. I have a bunch of boneless skinless chicken in the freezer that I want to use. Any thoughts/ideas?

    • Kelly says:

      Frozen meat will work just fine. Add it to the bag frozen or wait to add it the day-of cooking. You’re right that it’s not safe to thaw and re-freeze without cooking.

  • Paula says:

    Another question, if I thaw the frozen chicken I have and make the chicken taco soup or the chicken tortilla soup, could I freeze the cooked soup in single serving containers?

  • Michele says:

    How many does the bags serve?

  • Elaine says:

    What size slow cooker do you recommend using? Your recipes inspired me to buy one so I can make them! I was worried the cooker would be too big for just two people (soon to be three) if I bought a 5 qt one

  • Leigh says:

    I love to make freezer meals, however I am gone for about 11 hours a day. Since these meals are cooked in the crock pot would they work for me? Could I put them into my crock pot frozen to buy myself some extra cooking time?

    • Kelly says:

      I would either use a small crockpot (4 quart) or buy one with a timer. I have a programmable 6-quart made by Crock-Pot and it’s the best. All I have to do is set how long I want it to cook and then it automatically switches to “warm.”

  • Lori Ann says:

    Hi Kelly, it is a great thing you are doing here with these great suggestions. I am contemplating doing this – even as it seems like work – it sure would help save time in immediately. I would do this for my family to save money as well, and perhaps there are others who are doing it for this reason. I was wondering about the price you put for each meal and then each serving – you had $8.60 ea meal and $1.05 per serving. With the average meal making 4 – 6 servings I think this would actually put each serving at $1.43 – $2.15 per serving. I am glad I came across you site as I start on this journey to cut our grocery budget.

    • Kelly says:

      Some of the recipes have 8 servings. I literally added up the number of servings for each one of the 28 meals and then divided the total cost by that number.

  • Jordan says:

    hi , I’m planning on starting to do this and I’m very interested in buying your books and starting to save money,,, I have only me and my husband to feed for now 🙂 but ,,, I was wondering ,, do u need to cook vegetables like potato’s before you put them in the bags, and about your books do they come with suggestions on sides like rice or such,, were a house of picky eaters so I find my challenge is to make meals me and my husband will enjoy and want to eat,,, are meals are getting what I call boring , which makes me want to eat out more, when are pockets are stretched for cash as it is,, this isn’t exactly the best thing for us. oh and two more question 🙂 do you wash your bags and reuse them or just throw them away, and I saw on another site about freezing smoothies, and they froze bananas ,, are they still good that way .
    thanks Jordan

  • cyndy winstanley says:

    I was wondering about the cook books… I am not familiar with e-books. Does this mean I need to print my own book from an e-mail? Can I get a regular book from you or a book store?

    • Kelly says:

      Hi Cyndy! All of my cookbooks are PDF eBooks that can be read on computers, tablets, and smartphones. (No special e-reader required) They are formatted to print on regular 8.5×11″ computer paper so you’re welcome to print copies if you want.

      After purchasing your copies, you will be automatically redirected to a page where you can download your copies of the eBooks. You will also be emailed copies to save to your computer. Hope this helps!

  • Gabrielle says:

    Hi Kelly! I was so excited about this idea when I saw it. Twenty-eight freezer meals in 3 hours?! That sounded amazing! My mom and I put them together yesterday and we were so disappointed when it in fact took us 6.5 hours!!! Needless to say, we were exhausted! I’m really wondering if we did something wrong. This is the third time I’ve done freezer meals, and we both do a lot of cooking, so we’re definitely not new to meal prep. As far as I could tell, we were doing everything in a very efficient manner. On Friday evening we put the labels on the bags and chopped the vegetables (which alone took us 3 hours) and put them in the bags they belonged in. Then on Saturday we got all of our spices, sauces, and canned goods out on the table and starting filling bags one by one. Once we had that done, we organized the recipes by meat and started filling the bags with the meat, taking one type out of the refrigerator (cold Wisconsin garage) at a time. Finally, I chopped the potatoes and put those in my bags (my mom wants to do her potatoes on the day of cooking). I am still very happy with the results because I’m a mama of 1yr old twins and a 3yr old with a hubby in school and working, so this still saved me a lot of time during the week. I just wish I would have known that this was going to take me 6 hours instead of 3 so that I could have prepared myself better. Do you have any ideas or tips on what else we could have done to save time? I’m sure we’ll do this again in a couple of months when our meals run out, but with new recipes! Also, we noticed that the amount of chicken on the grocery list didn’t really match up with what we actually needed. For recipes where you eat the chicken breasts whole I put 4 breasts in a bag (1.5 for me as I’m still breastfeeding my twins, 1.5 for hubby, 1/2 for toddler, and 1/2 for each of my twins) and then for soup and shredded chicken recipes I did 3 breasts. I ended up needing about 18lbs instead of 13. It turned out OK because my mom had some chicken breasts in the freezer that she will add to her crockpot the day of cooking and then she’s also going to buy thighs to use for the shredded chicken and soup recipes. Her family is bigger though (my three sisters are 16 and under) so she needed more meat in her recipes and will also need to buy more breasts for a few of the recipes and add the day of cooking. Overall, we are happy with the results and can’t wait to try the recipes, so thank you for this!

    • Kelly says:

      Hi Gabrielle! I don’t think you did anything wrong. The 3 hours refers to the time that I spent making the meals with my mom. The day before, I labeled the bags and peeled and cut the carrots and chopped the onions with my food chopper. I don’t think that took me three hours, but probably 45 minutes or so. Was it a long walk to the garage? I work very quickly and don’t stress about chopping and dicing my vegetables perfectly. My only other tip would be to make your favorite recipes over and over again – they get quicker and easier to make when you’re familiar with them. Oh, and buy frozen diced onions next time. They’re amazing and such a timer saver!

      I add my chicken based on weight, not number of breasts, so I’m sorry that didn’t work out for you. I’m glad you shared your experience for other readers. I very much appreciate your feedback. I hope you love all of the meals. 🙂

  • Katie says:

    May I ask a question – how long do most of the meals require to be in the slow cooker for? 10 hours? 8? 6?

  • Kate says:

    Just a question im just cooking for me so could i seperate each meal into 4 seperate bags and cook seperatly and would the cooking time be the same???

  • Kate says:

    Sorry and can u add potatos on the cook day?

  • Kathy says:

    I recently purchased your crockpot bundle. I accident closed my receipt page and now I can’t access the cookbook. How can I reaches the cookbooks

    • Kelly says:

      You will receive an email with links to download, but I just sent you a second email just in case you didn’t receive the first one for some reason. Thank you for your purchase, Kathy!!

  • ardy.handrianto says:

    Hi Kelly,
    Just purchased your ebook and amazed… i’ve been struggling to organize weekly menu and yours are full of it.

    Can’t wait to sit down with the family and planning for the weekly meal.

    Thanks.

  • Samantha Cutler says:

    I’m doing a prep day tomorrow for the first time. If we chop the veggies all up before hand how do we determine how much one small onion or so many carrots, etc is? I swear I saw the answer on one of your posts, but I have ransacked the site for hours now and can’t find it. :'(

    • Kelly says:

      Hmmm, I always substitute one cup diced onion for one small onion, but I’m not sure about the other veggies because I don’t do a lot of prep ahead of time. I would use a kitchen scale, google it, or eyeball it.

  • Amy Harris says:

    Could you please tell me a bit about how you use your prep stations? (For example, do you take the bag and recipe to the each station to fill it? I may be afraid I’d drop it. Lol) I coordinate meal prep at our church for a family whose children need constant medical care so that the mom has one less thing to do. (Today a small crew did the chicken crock pot meals from the bundle.) I’m looking for ways to make it more efficient if possible.

    Also, I have seen your suggestion to print the labels on regular paper and use packing tape to save cost. Is there a particular kind of tape that works well? Mine is not sticking very well.

    Thanks! I have pinned many freezer meal sites, but I keep coming back to yours most. I love the printables!

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