Make 5 Slow Cooker Meals in 1 Hour!

make ahead crockpot dinnersAs many of you know, I am in New York City this week attending BlogHer12. It has been such a great experience so far! Yesterday we got to hear from Martha Stewart, and today the keynote speaker is Katie Couric!  How cool is that? :-)  I didn’t get the chance to actually meet Martha (although I did try!)…but I did have the distinct pleasure of spending some time with Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time and I’m happy to report she was as delightful in person as she is on her blog and her Food Network cooking show.

OK…now that you have a little of the background behind why I did this post! Since I was leaving for 5 days and it just so happens the hubster was going to be out of town on business this week as well, this meant my No. 2 and No. 3 sons (Kell and Sten) were going to be on their own!  yikes!  This is a first at our house. (Fortunately, No. 1 son Erik and his wife Kaitlyn are playing “chaperones”, or I would be a total wreck!) So in an attempt to make sure they didn’t “starve” in my absence, I decided to make some meals in advance that they could easily “cook” in the crockpot.

Awhile back I had been completely inspired by this blog post by Janell at Saving You Dinero. She gives step-by-step instructions on how to assemble 5 different crock pot meals at one time to freeze for later consumption. Perfect! Just what I needed.

Originally I thought I would use a couple of her ideas and supplement with a couple of my own favorite crock pot meals, but as my trip drew closer I decided to make it easier on myself and make all five of her recipes. How can you go wrong with Garlic Honey Chicken, Beef Burritos, Chicken Fajitas, Hawaiian Chicken, and Teriyaki Pork Chops? They all sounded delicious to me! (And gluten-free! BONUS!) She even gives you a complete list of ingredients you need to have on hand before you begin assembling!  So simple!

 

make ahead crockpot dinners

The only thing I did differently was instead of putting the meals in ziploc baggies…I decided to put them directly into slow cooker liner bags. I knew that if my boys were going to actually EAT these meals….they would have to be virtually FOOLPROOF. :-)  They literally only have to take them out of the freezer, take off the twist tie, place them in the crockpot and turn it on! I don’t know that I could have made it any easier. Whether they actually end up DOING it….remains to be seen. (I’ll let you know when I get home.) But I figure even if they don’t eat a single one of them while I’m gone….they will still be there ready and waiting to save ME from cooking for 5 nights of my choosing. That’s what I call a WIN-WIN. :-)

I also decided to print out labels with instructions to put on the bags instead of writing on the them with a Sharpie. Once again, trying to make this as foolproof as possible. :-)

Instead of listing them here, I’m going to link you to Janell’s website for the recipes. I literally followed them step-by-step.

Here are some photos of my crockpot dinners assembly session! :-)

make ahead crockpot dinners

 

make ahead crockpot dinners

 

make ahead crockpot dinners

 

 

make ahead crockpot dinners

 

make ahead crockpot dinners

 

make ahead crockpot dinners

 

Even UNCOOKED they look pretty darn good…don’t you think? I’m secretly hoping they DON’T eat all of them while I’m gone. :-)  shhhh.

What are YOUR favorite crockpot meals?

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UPDATE: AUGUST 7, 2012

Now that I am back from my trip and I actually have a few minutes to do so….I had to update this post and let you all know the CROCKPOT DINNERS were a HUGE success!  My fear was that they wouldn’t eat ANY of them while I was gone and in fact they ate 4 OUT OF THE 5!

The day I got home, I put the last one in the crockpot and it was absolutely DELICIOUS!  So while I have to take my boys word for it that the others were tasty (remember, one of them IS the World’s Pickiest Eater!), I can personally vouch for the Chicken Fajitas! I easily could have eaten the whole meal myself. :-)

I’m really looking forward to doing this again with some of the yummy crockpot recipe ideas that have been left in the comments below!  Thanks for sharing everyone!

FYI….this is from the Crock-Pot website:

Frozen Meats:
You can cook frozen meat in a Crock-Pot® slow cooker but suggested cook time may need to be increased. To ensure meat is cooked through, use a meat thermometer. Meat should be well above 165°F to be tender.
 For those concerned about the labels on the bags. They did not melt or even come off the bags.



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Comments

  1. Charity B. says

    Thanks Jillee! As a mom of three, and in a month four, this blog couldn’t have come at a better time! These are all things that we like-bonus!! I might even make double batches and instead if putting them in the crock pot bags, which I love, seal them in my Food Saver bags so they’ll keep in the freezer longer. That way when baby comes, there’s no guess work in dinner!

    • Elizabeth says

      I’m in the same boat but I’m due in November. My fear is the kids and my husband won’t eat right while I’m in the hospital or that he will destroy my kitchen (he makes messes while he cooks and leaves the mess until morning). This is a great idea and a lifesaver when baby planning.

  2. Juliet says

    I made this last Saturday and it only took about 35 minutes to put together. So far we’ve had all but the hawaiian chicken and everyone has enjoyed them all. Will definitely be doing this again!!

  3. Denise Holtz says

    Love it! I did some all at once cooking to see how it would work for me and made up two week’s worth of meals. Not bad, I may have to try again when my house isn’t 100 degrees, lol. My question is this – did you put the crock pot bags into a freezer bag and then label the freezer bag? I would be concerned about the crock pot bag allowing freezer burn, and if you put the label on the crock pot bag, what happens during cooking – does it come off, stay on the bag, get on the crock?

    • Brandette W. says

      I had this same concern with the labels being stuck to the outside of the crockpot liner bag. I would worry that the labels/printer ink would cook onto the bottom of side of my crock. I also wondered if they would spill in the chest freezer or get freezer burned while in there since they are not protected in a freezer bag.

      • Jennifer says

        Wondered about that, too…seems like the label would get very hot and possibly burn. But I have never used the bags so I don’t know. They kind of freak me out actually. I know a dozen people who swear they are awesome and yet I am convinced they will melt or something.

        • says

          For those of you concerned about the labels, I had no problem with them whatsoever. The crockpot just doesn’t seem to get hot enough to do any harm to them (ie. melt them).
          Just as an FYI…the labels I used were the clear ones from Avery.

        • Debbe says

          Jennifer, I used to feel the same way about the turkey roasting bags, but they don’t melt. They’re awesome. If there’s any new info about them with all the plastic phobia going on these days, I haven’t heard it. I haven’t tried the crockpot bags, but I guess they’d be similar.

  4. says

    I’ve never seen these slow cooker liner bags before. Your instructions say to dump the ingredients in the crockpot… doesn’t the whole thing, liner and all go in the crockpot? Does the label get cooked too, or do you peel that off first? I may have to look into these liners… Quick and easy is the way that I like to cook!

    • Brandette W. says

      I use these liners with every crockpot meal I make and LOVE THEM!! They are one of the best inventions. It is literally a large plastic food safe bag that you place in the crockpot “crock” and then dump your food into. It eliminates any cleaning after the food is done and ready to eat. I just serve the food and then take the bag over to my sink and drain it if there is lots of liquid left. Then into the trash it goes. I usually just wipe the crock out with a wet sponge to get any condensation and that is it. No more messy crock to clean, no soaking and scrubbing! I have bought them at Walmart, Target and you can also get them on Amazon. I always buy Reynold’s Slow Cooker Liner bags, but Bed Bath and Beyond sells packs of off brands next to their crockpots in store.

      • says

        Thanks! I’m in Canada, so no Target here (Yet! It is on it’s way though) but I’m sure that my grocery store and Walmart would probably have them. I love my crockpot, but don’t use it as often as I could because of the clean up!

  5. Kathy says

    Those look delicious! My favorite crockpot meal is a roast. Usually it is whatever beef roast is on sale. I mix McCormick’s meat marinade exactly as the directions state on the package. I do not add any additional liqued. Place a layerd of chopped onion and potatoes into the crockpot. The roast comes next and I pour the meat marinade over everything. Finally I top it off with carrots and turn it on low for about 8 hours. The house will smell so good! One of my go to meal for cold days!

  6. chris k says

    Maybe I am thinking too hard….. or not hard enough. You make it…… freeze it….. then take it directly from the freezer, into your crockpot (still completely frozen) and turn it on to cook for the hours listed in the recipe. Just trying to be sure you didn’t defrost before you put in the crockpot and started it. These sound great!! thanks for sharing.

  7. Mo says

    Just FYI, the manufacturers of the crock pot liners do not recommend them for freezing food in. They do not control moisture movement through the bag or freezer burn. I would say you may want to put your meal in a liner then into a freezer bag for storage. I’m sure they’ll work if your only storing for a few days but I’ve also seen that people have some trouble with the liners tearing after being in the freezer.

  8. Andria says

    You inspired me. I ran out and got all of the ingredients and the liner bags. I came home and put it all together and they look delicious. It did take me an hour to put them together, but another 1/2 hour to clean up and label the bags and attach the directions, but so worth it. When school starts up, I’m going to be all ready with some dinners in the freezer!

  9. says

    My fav crockpot recipe is Smothered Chicken. We make it when we have company over and it’s really easy and very good. It’s chicken covered with sauce, swiss cheese, mushrooms, and bacon pieces. We get compliments all the time and it’s just so easy to make for company and looks fancy. Here’s the link:
    http://www.between3sisters.com/2011/07/crock-pot-smothered-chicken.html

    Thanks for the recipes. I have a second child on the way and these will be in my deep freeze for sure!

  10. Marsha says

    I would love to try these, however I have tried to go the website for the recipes several times now from a few different sites and I keep getting an error message. Would somebody be nice enough to send me the recipes to me??? I would love you for life…….. joedigirl@hotmail.com

  11. says

    So you can take things directly from the freezer and put them in the Crockpot? I did not know that. I would kind of be concerned about getting the food up to a high temperature quickly enough. Is that not a concern?

    Gaye

  12. Nancy G. says

    I love your idea of printing out the labels with the recipe and picture. I looked, really hoping you included a printable link to the labels you made. I could do it, but I would rather not have to. Did I miss it? Would you include it? I really appreciate your blog and return to it frequently.

  13. Jessi says

    Jillee,

    I’ve always wanted to do something like this so that I could have good, home-cooked meals during the week without having to do all the prep work after I get home from work. I’m going to have to try this out. I also really love your labels! Could you tell us what kind of labels they were and what that beautiful font is that you used for the recipe names? :)

  14. Abigail says

    While the FDA approves crock pot liners, anytime plastics are heated to high temps especially for long periods of time, chemicals leach into your food. Ziplock and Glad freezer bags are BPA free so if you’re making ahead of time and freezing those are good options. I hate cleaning my crock pot but I would hate cancer even more…especially in my children!

  15. Samantha says

    Abigail, that’s what I’m concerned about.I would probably try to make the meals and store them in the BPS safe bags, then just dump them without the crockpot liner into the crockpot.Jillee, do you think that will be just as good? Thanks

  16. Kelly says

    I personally would never cook in plastic. I am wondering if these could be made in glass jars and if the crockpot would be big enough for even a few…..

    We’ve lost too many people to cancer the last 3 years so we are making as many lifestyle changes as we can to prevent cancer and anything that attacks our immune systems.

  17. says

    I’m Janell’s husband (the one mentioned in the post from htp://www.savingyoudinero.com), and I will testify to the fact that these are some of the best meals ever. Once made, anybody (even me) can throw them in the crock pot and make them.

  18. Comet says

    I would be leery of using glass jars IN the crock pot–if that is what the poster meant. You could freeze the ingredients in them and then thaw enough to get them out of the jars and get them into the crock tho. Would at least eliminate a few steps!

    I have read that using regular old Ziplocs and placing the raw ingredients in there and then placing that bag in the CROCK and freezing it and THEN REMOVING the bag and storing it in the freezer until needed whereupon you peel off the ziploc part (run under hot water) makes it have the shape of the crock pot and makes it easier to get the frozen stuff in the crock in the proper layers. This seems like a bit of work but if you are not doing several batches at once it might be a good idea. Especially for something pre-made and that you are going to re-heat in the crock.

    I always seem to have a problem with way way tooooo much liquid at the end of the process and sometimes grey and stringy meats—is it me? I know I am not going to get a nice crispy outside but sometimes this is almost distasteful. So I don’t use the crock as much as I would like!

    I do use it for chili and other mixed up sort of items. But would like to use it for more—with 7 people this could really save me time! Any good cookbooks out there I might have missed? Or a website?

  19. Christy says

    I usually buy my boneless chicken already frozen. Should I thaw it first, mix it up with everything and then refreeze? Would it taste okay to freeze twice? If I don’t I would think nothing would penetrate the chicken to marinate it.

  20. Speas says

    I just want to say thank you for all of your great ideas! I go to your website almost every day to get either a tip or a recipe for whatever I am doing! I love the hawaiian chicken recipe! Also, I can’t get enough of your DIY/Homemade things (i.e. body powder, no-grate laundry soap, homemade fabric softner – just to name a few). You are such an inspiration! Thank you!!

  21. Tasha says

    How awesome is this! Cannot wait to try these! As Terri stated above, Janell posted 5 more freeze-ahead recipes on her site for Dijon Chicken, Rotisserie Crock Pot Chicken, Italian Chicken, Chicken Tinga Tostadas, and Chicken Cacciatore (http://www.savingyoudinero.com/2012/08/18/part-2-1-hour-1-mess-5-crock-pot-meals/). I just noticed that Janell has now posted Part 3 with 5 more recipes (for a total of 15.) Part 3 has recipes for Casserole Spaghetti, Garlic Lime Chicken, Carolina Pork Sandwiches, Peppered Steak & Delicious Pot Roast (http://www.savingyoudinero.com/2012/09/17/part-3-1-hour-1-mess-5-crock-pot-meals/)

  22. Tasha says

    This is one of my favorite crock pot recipes…

    Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

    Ingredients:
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 cup salsa
    1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning
    1 can cream of mushroom soup (reduced fat is fine)
    1/2 cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

    Directions:
    Add chicken to slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken. Mix salsa and soup and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours*. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. (I use a fork and shred the chicken as I’m stirring in the sour cream. It is so tender it just falls apart.) Sometimes I serve it as a filling for tacos and other times I serve it with brown rice and green vegetables on the side.

    *Make sure you check it after 4 hours because the sauce can dry up if you cook it too long.

    Number of Servings: 6

    I’ve never made this ahead and frozen it but I’m sure it would be good. Mine usually cooks perfectly in 4 hours (with my chicken defrosted) so I would guess it would be closer to 6-8 hours with the chicken frozen.

  23. says

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post today :) I’m going to get my friend a little small crockpot for Christmas (she is elderly and lives alone) and I had heard of the liners and thought they would be perfect so she wouldn’t have to lift the heavy crockpot to clean it out & could just throw away the bag instead. And anyways, I really love your idea about making some meals ahead of time and freezing them in the bags for later use! I’m going to definitely tell her that idea! Thanks :)

  24. Charity says

    I am just loving these ideas! I will probably be putting these together, plus other recipes from the link, this weekend!
    I did want to let you know though, soy sauce is NOT gluten or wheat free, unless you are specifically buying the gluten free soy sauce. A great gluten free/wheat free alternative is Liquid Amino Acids, I use Bragg’s.
    My son has Celiacs as well as a wheat allergy (asthmatic reaction in addition to “tummy troubles”). So sit sauce for him is a major no no!

  25. Julia says

    I have used the crock pot plastic liners several time love them. I love the fact that all the recipes have natural ingredients I am excited to try them. I got everything for it tonight and ready to try them for the next 2 weeks.

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