Updated November, 2019. Fill your freezer with this list of 20 slow cooker freezer meals.
What Is A Slow Cooker Freezer Meal?
I know you may be scratching your head, wondering what exactly is a slow cooker freezer meal. Don’t worry; I will explain it, so it makes much more sense. These easy to prepare freezer meals can be made up in advance; then, when you’re ready, you can dump them in the crockpot! Then all you need to do is figure out what sides and desserts to make, and you have a meal made in heaven.
How Long Does It Take To Prepare These Freezer Meals?
How long it takes to throw together these easy freezer meals is going to depend significantly on how many recipes you are making. As well as how much work needs to go into each one. In most cases, you can put together several freezer meal packets in just a few hours. Keep in mind, if you pick foods that have a lot of the same ingredients, you can save time that way too.
Why Should I Want To Make Freezer Dump Meals?
Oh, there are SO many wonderful reasons to make these delicious make ahead freezer meals. I will give you a breakdown of the biggest reasons to consider this idea.
My number one reason for all of this freezer meal prep is time! You will be amazed by how much time you have when you don’t have to be in the kitchen every single night. Yes, you might spend a couple of hours preparing the freezer meals, but the day you are ready to cook, you can just dump and go.
You don’t have to be a chef to make these slow cooker freezer meals! If you’re just starting out in the kitchen, I promise they are foolproof recipes that you can rarely mess up. And if you happen to have kiddos in the house, I’m sure they would love to help you prepare them too.
Huge Money Saver
Think about all the money that is spent on take-out. You can practically avoid it altogether except for special occasions with a little bit of prep work. I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better when I can be frugal when it comes to food. Food is SO expensive, and there are so many other things I would rather spend my money on.
You’ll Get Multiple Meals
Unless you have a large family or some hungry football-playing teens, odds are you’re going to end up with leftovers. This is fantastic because then you also will have an easy lunch too. Just toss it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and enjoy a hot meal without the fuss.
What Kind Of Food Do I Need?
Each slow cooker freezer meal recipe has its own list of ingredients. Thankfully, you can easily print off the recipes so you can organize what you have versus what you need. Then, make your shopping list and hit the market to pick it all up in one trip. I recommend keeping the essentials on hand like:
- Broth – You can never have too much broth, and it goes with many recipes. Chicken, beef, or vegetable broth are all easily swapped for one another.
- Vegetables – Keeping some basic veggies on hand like carrots, celery, and potatoes are perfect for preparing meals like this!
- Proteins – I like to base my recipes around which meats are on sale that week. Then I will buy extra to save money on the grocery bill over the long term. So, I usually have some chicken or beef around the house.
- Seasonings – You always will need seasonings and spices for these recipes. It’s nice to have a large array of spices to grab when you need them.
Be Careful Mixing Uncooked Proteins With Other Ingredients
I am paranoid when it comes to mixing raw meats in with veggies. I know that they will be immediately frozen, but it still gives me the willies! To solve that, I put the meat in a separate ziplock baggie and place that in the larger freezer bag. It keeps the food separated, but together in the same container. Win win!
How Do I Store Crockpot Freezer Meals?
The method for storing freezer meals that makes the most sense is to use freezer bags. These are usually a bit thicker plastic than regular ziplock bags, and the zipper is more secure. You can fill the bag around ⅔ full and then push out the excess air. Then when you’re ready to cook it, grab it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge. Then, once it’s thawed, pour it in the crock pot.
Just don’t forget to write on the bag what’s in it and the date it was prepared. You might think you will remember, but I promise when it freezes, they all look the same. That has never happened to you right? My husband jokes that I serve him “mystery meat” when I give him something and I can’t remember what it was — I’m sure he liked it, so he’s fine! 😁
What Foods Can’t You Freeze?
Unfortunately, there are several foods that just don’t do well when they are frozen. Whenever possible, try to avoid freezing these foods:
- Anything That’s Cream Based – Think of things like alfredo sauces or creamy soups. They tend to separate when you try and reheat them, and the texture is just off.
- Cucumbers – They are pretty much made of mostly water. When you freeze them, the water solidifies, and they just aren’t edible after that.
- Lettuce – Much like cucumbers, the texture and flavor get ruined once it’s frozen.
- Pasta That’s Overcooked – If you attempt to freeze pasta that’s a little overdone, you can expect to have a slimy, mushy mess! You can freeze pasta if it’s been cooked al dente.
- Egg Whites – If you have some cooked egg whites and don’t want to waste them, you can’t save them by freezing. The texture will become really rubbery and not appealing at all.
- Marshmallows – I don’t recommend eating a frozen marshmallow unless you prefer them to be hard as a rock! They don’t defrost well at all, either.
Tips To Save Even More Time
I’ve already covered that you are going to save a lot of time, but there are even more things you can do to make it even easier. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Invest In A Vegetable Chopper – Whether it’s a food processor or handheld dicer or chopper, you’re going to need one. Don’t go for the cheapest thing you can find, because many vegetables are hard and you don’t want it to break after the first use or two.
- Chop Everything At Once – It’s way easier if you’re preparing several meals to chop similar foods all at once. For example, chop the carrots for all the recipes instead of one dish at a time. You will save you TONS of time. Then keep all of them in one bowl and grab what you need for each freezer meal.
- Use High-Quality Freezer Bags – You don’t want to go to all this trouble only to grab a meal and find out its freezer burnt. These aren’t that much more expensive, and you’re already saving money.
- Label Everything – If there is one crucial step you don’t’ want to skip, it’s labeling. Just use a sharpie marker and write the date and what the meal is. You can also write any instructions for cooking, as well.
- Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew – Pun intended! Anyway, don’t go crazy and make too many recipes at once. If this is your first time or two it can get a little overwhelming. It’s better to try a handful of recipes at a time. Then once you feel comfortable you can always add more recipes the next time.
- Double Up The Use Of Your Instant Pot – Did you know that your Instant Pot can serve double duty as a slow cooker? It can! In fact, I made these Slow Cooker Turkey Legs with mine. Just make sure to open the pressure relief valve all the way before you set it to slow cooker mode. Alternatively, there is a glass lid you can buy for the Instant Pot that replaces the tight sealing lid you use when pressure cooking. Pretty cool, right?
Beef Based Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes
Here are a great listing of recipes that have beef as the staple protein. I am amazed at how creative some of these recipe developers are at putting together freezer-ready prep meals.
Crock Pot Sweet and Sour BBQ Meatballs via New Leaf Wellness. I love sweet and sour flavors any time, but this recipe knocks it out of the park. Meatballs, freshly cut veggies that are excellent to freeze, and a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce is all you need for an epic dump-and-go freezer ready meal. Don’t freeze the BBQ sauce (obviously!)
Taco Chili via Grace and Good Eats. I have a real weakness for good Mexican dishes. This recipe combines a solid hearty chili with the to-die-for seasonings of Mexico. Do yourself a favor and combine all of the seasonings together and put them in a small ziplock bag before sticking the whole thing in the freezer. It makes it REALLY easy to add it all to the crock pot in the morning.
Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef via Fabulously Frugal. I wish I had thought about preparing the strips of beef this way. She coats the flank steak in corn starch before she puts it in the ziplock bag. That way, when it is time to defrost and put in the slow cooker, it is already prepped. What a great meal-prep hack!
Slow Cooker Chili via Pink When. Jen does such a good job with this one. I am in love with her labeling! Seriously. I typically write on the bag with a sharpie, but her labels are awesome. It includes the recipe, the instructions (low for 8 hours) and the date. There is no need to call a detective to figure out how old that bag is in the freezer!
Chinese Beef and Broccoli via Mommy Savers. This is one of my go-to recipes I order when I eat out at a Chinese restaurant. Best of all, this copycat recipe is so much healthier! With just a few hours of cooking the beef and the last-minute add of frozen broccoli, you’ll swear you were eating out – but saving money and calories!
Low Carb Carnitas Nachos via Hip 2 Keto. Ok, this is pork (and is technically the ‘other white meat’) but I included them in the beef section anyways. This has just a couple of ingredients but is amazing with the flavor. I don’t know about you, but my favorite recipes tend to be the ones with just a few ingredients. I like to combine the spices in a small baggie in the freezer bag to save time, but you certainly don’t need to. With the low carbs, this is a winner!
Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef via Thriving Home. Rachel and Polly include two different ways to turn this into a freezer meal. The first way is to add all of the ingredients to the bag and freeze. The second way is to cook it all, and then freeze. You have to love that! I have been using a lot more balsamic vinegar in my recipes too.
Crockpot Sloppy Joes via Savor and Savvy. Sloppy Joes are go-to recipe for me. I’ll be honest, it is one of those recipes that I throw together with leftovers. Mix it all together and turn it into a kid-friendly sandwich!
Chicken Based Crock Pot Freezer Recipes
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken via Savor and Savvy. Easy and fast! My two favorite ingredients for this freezer crock pot meal. I’ve said it before, but I love recipes that just take a couple of ingredients! LOVE! This is a great recipe for using leftover chicken from other meals. Don’t let it go to waste.
Slow Cooker Paleo Chicken Piccata via Stockpiling Moms. You either love or hate capers. I fall into the LOVE category. This is another recipe that is bursting with flavor and is just a few ingredients. Do you see a theme here? This is one of the best slow cooker freezer meals I have found.
Helpful tip: When I make a Costco run, I grab the large packages of chicken breasts and use these recipes to create several meal prep freezer meals for the slow cooker. Plan ahead and grab that ONE MILLION count freezer ziplock bag box from Costco too! 🙂
Teriyaki Dump Chicken via A Cultivated Nest. There are several dump recipes on the page, but the teriyaki chicken is my fave! Seriously, this is packed full of flavor and presents like a million bucks! Check out how gorgeous this looks over her lo mein noodles.
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken via Gimme Some Oven. Ok. This is more of a prep recipe than a full meal, but it is so darned useful, that I just had to include it here for you. In some cases, you may not want to have an entire meal in a bag. I use shredded chicken for so many recipes that this is a staple of freezer slow cooking. So easy, but so versatile!
Slow Cooker Lemon Pesto Chicken via The Magical Slow Cooker. I made the mistake of buying one of the super-sized jars of pesto at Costco the other day. That jar was HUGE!!! I needed to find a few more recipes that needed it. Fortunately, Sarah’s freezer meal of lemon pesto chicken solved my problem. Of course, with the pesto, I bought a huge package of chicken breasts, so one-two-bam! Problem solved. This recipe is to-die-for good!
Crock Pot Chicken Taco Soup via The Chaos and The Clutter. I don’t know about you, but I gravitate towards soups in the fall and winter. Something about a bowl of nice hot soupy goodness makes me want to stay indoors and read a book. I made this recipe without the bottle of beer and it was great. I didn’t have any gluten-free beer, and my sister-in-law was in town. She is sensitive to gluten, and this worked out perfectly.
Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas via Crystal and Co. Oh yum! I did tweak this recipe a little bit and used my own homemade taco seasoning instead of the store bought packet. It was easy enough to whip together, and I knew exactly what I put in it. Regardless, this recipe is in my rotation, and I really liked her meal prep tips for freezer cooking. They will save you a lot of time, especially in the fall and winter when kids’ activities are keeping you busy.
Crock Pot Chicken Chili Mac via Flour on my Face. I grew up with Chili Mac. I didn’t know it at the time, but my mom would make it right before payday when the kitchen was getting bare. Now, every time I make it, I reminisce about my childhood. Silly, right? Don’t miss Arlene’s tip on how to avoid mushy macaroni noodles.
Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables via About a Mom. There are five recipes on Angela’s page, and this one is my favorite. It is a really simple dump and go recipe and is a great way to use veggies that you probably already have in the fridge. The soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and a few other ingredients add an awesome burst of flavor that your whole family will love. If you’re concerned about the sodium, make sure to grab the low-sodium soy sauce. I can’t tell the difference in the flavor. You can also go for liquid aminos to avoid the gluten.
Hawaiian Chicken via Saving You Dinero. Some of the other recipes on this page called for pineapple, soy sauce, and vinegar. Do some pre-planning and select a few of these to make your grocery list. Here is a free printable grocery list to help you!
Bourbon Chicken via Bargain Briana. Oh me oh my! My husband uses any excuse in the world to add bourbon to his meals. It is ridiculous, but this one is well worth his infatuation with the local distilleries. The bourbon adds an amazing sweet flavor to the dish that is almost indescribable. I will make this and add in whatever fresh veggies I have left over from the week in the last hour or so.
Lemon Garlic Dump Chicken via One Good Thing by Jillee. I found this recipe at just the right time. Fall was quickly arriving, and I was able to harvest the last bit of my parsley before the hard freeze hit. Jillee’s recipe is simple and delish! I added a little bit more of the fresh parsley than I would have if I used the dried. Regardless, this dump chicken is so refreshing and works perfect as a freezer slow cooker meal.
Need more freezer cooking ideas? Once a Month Meals has lots of ready-to-go freezer menu plans (Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Paleo, Instant Pot and more) and lets you customize your own menu plan.
More Freezer Meal Ideas:
If you liked the idea of preparing crock pot meals ahead of time, you may like: