I don’t know about you, but I need to make my life easier any way I can. Sometimes it just gets tiring feeling like all I do is feed people 24/7. That’s why recently, I’ve streamlined my dinner time prep and meals with some new strategies.
First, this winter I spent a ton of time gathering amazing gluten-free slow cooker recipes. Check out my two slow cooker recipe round up posts; 80 Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Recipes and 125+ Slow Cooker Recipes. I used my slow cooker several times per week and that helped with the dinner time madness. Yet, still there were days when just prepping that slow cooker meals didn’t fit into my busy day. Enter freezer meals.
Recently, I tried out a new method called freezer meals. It still requires I plan – but the process of dinner making is much more streamlined. On the day I do my food shopping, I simply come home and prep several meals all at once. It really doesn’t take much time at all. I can give the task of chopping veggies to one of my boys too, making it even easier on me. Then I bag up the meal and freeze it. All that is left is to simply take the meal out of the freezer, plop it in the slow cooker and dinner is ready many hours later. Simply prepare an easy side to go with it and you are good to go!
To learn more about this whole crazy Freezer meals thing -check out my review for; ‘From Your Freezer to Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes For Every Season‘. Now, on to a few recipes…..
These easy-to-freeze recipes do double-duty for your dinner. I’m sharing a couple of my own recipes that I’ve adapted for this freezer to slow cooker method. (Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker you could also make it in a dutch oven on the stove). I simple prep the ingredients, bag them up, freeze them, then plop them into my slow cooker to cook. I don’t even brown the meat or veggies first, although you could if you like. It’s all about getting a hearty meal on the table with as much ease as possible for me right now. Those of you with multiple kids will understand completely!
I chose 3 of my own recipes to share with you -since Stephanie (author of From Your Freezer to Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes For Every Season‘) recommends prepping 3 meals at a time. This amount is quite doable for me too and takes less than an hour to prep -if you have 2 people doing the prep it’s even faster.
First up, is my lamb stew. You could do this with beef too if you don’t have lamb. I get a lamb every spring so I have lots on hand and this recipe is one of our favorites.
- 3 pound lamb roast (cut into 2 ounce pieces) or stew meat
- 2 pounds small organic red potatoes or turnips, quartered
- 1 pound carrots, cut in large chunks
- a large bunch of kale, destemmed and chopped
- 2 large onions, chopped or 12 baby onions, peeled
- 1 head of garlic, peeled
- several pinches of tarragon
- 3 -4 bay leaves
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- crushed black pepper
- coarse sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. arrowroot or tapioca flour
- 4 cups homemade beef stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Place first 11 ingredients in a large bowl, sprinkle the arrowroot over top and toss to coat thoroughly.
- Place in a large freezer bag.
- Lay flat in freezer until frozen, then you can stand it up if you prefer.
- On the day of cooking take out freezer meal and thaw for a bit -then add to a large slow cooker )6-8 quart at least.
- Add the beef stock and butter and place on low for 7-8 hours.
- At some point during the cooking time stir the stew.
- Check for seasoning at the end.
- Option: Add 2 cups of frozen green peas in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
Next up, is a recipe for Ginger Curry Turkey. In this recipe you can use turkey thigh meat off the bone if you can get it. If not, just use chicken thigh meat on or off the bone. If it is boneless, just check it before the 8 hour time to make sure it’s not drying out (you should be okay). The sweetness of the squash pairs so nicely with the spicy curry. I love this meal even for breakfast.
- 3 lbs turkey breast or thigh meat (chicken is fine too), cut into chunks or bone in is fine too
- 6 cups cubed acorn squash (3 small acorn squash) or 2 bags frozen butternut squash
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 cups fresh cranberries ( I keep mine in the freezer) optional
- 1 - 3 inch chunk of fresh ginger minced
- 2-3 Tbsp. curry
- 4-6 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. Arrowroot flour (or tapioca)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- Place the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to coat.
- Place into your large freezer bag. Lay flat until frozen and then you can stand it upright if you choose.
- On the day of cooking -remove from freezer. Allow for some time to thaw if possible.
- Place into your slow cooker on low.
- Add the broth and simmer on low about 6-8 hours, high for 4 hours.
- Once done -stir it up, taste for seasonings.
Lastly, I revamped my Sweet & Sour Paleo Chicken recipe for this freezer to slow cooker method. This is one of my oldest son’s favorite dinners and it’s much easier with this method than my original recipe!
- 3 lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cups pineapple chunks or tidbits (I get mine frozen from Trader Joe's)
- 4 cups peppers cut into 1-2 inch long strips
- 4 cups small carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot
- To add the day of cooking:
- 2/3 cup orange juice (optional)
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup ketchup or 4 tablespoons tomato paste with broth added to make 2/3 cup
- 3-4 tablespoons honey (optional)
- 1 cup whole water chestnuts, sliced (add the last 30 minutes)
- Serve on the side:
- 3-4 cups cauliflower, blanched or steamed
- 3-4 cups broccoli , blanched or steamed
- In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients, toss well to coat and place in a 1 gallon freezer bag.
- Freeze. Pull out when ready to use.
- On the day of cooking, dump the contents of the bag into your slow cooker. I recommend a 6-8 quart size cooker.
- Set your cooker to low.
- Add the orange juice, vinegar, ketchup and honey.
- Cook on low for 8 hours -high for 4 hours.
- 30 minutes before the meal is done add the water chestnuts and start the prep for your veggies.
- I recommend blanching the broccoli and cauliflower for just a touch longer than is usually called for about 6 1/2 minutes, or steaming them slightly less than is normally called for about 7-8 minutes.
- Serve the Sweet & Sour Chicken with the veggies or if you like some basmati rice.
From Your Freezer To Your Family
If you want loads more of easy-to-prep, tasty, healthy gluten-free recipes like these, I highly recommend you grab a copy of From Your Freezer to Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes For Every Season.
ALL the recipes are 100% Grain-free, Gluten-free and Dairy-Free. They do not contain corn or legumes (both are not technically grains but extremely hard to digest and common allergens). The recipes are all Paleo, Whole 30, Weston A. Price, GAPS, and Real Food compatible meals. These recipes do use natural sweeteners in some of the recipes, but if you are eating completely sugar-free, omit the sugar and the recipe will still taste great. So if you read my blog and eat the way we do -these recipes are a perfect fit for your family as well. (And they can be easily modified if need be). Grab your copy of From Your Freezer To Your Family today!
To see a sample recipe from the book, check out the Ginger Cranberry Pork Roast.
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