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I'm going to have a baby the first week of May (if she debuts on schedule) and I would like to stock my freezer with a few meals of the thaw, heat, and eat variety.

I've been thinking that my 6qt slow cooker might be a boon in this, since I pretty much always make quantities that involve leftovers in it.

However, I've never tried to freeze leftovers from the slow cooker. We've always just kept leftovers in the fridge until they were eaten up. I know that the freezer can wreck havoc on some kinds of dishes, turning things to mush, and since slow cooker meals are already super tender, I'm worried about having everything be way overcooked.

Any good recommendations on "eat half, freeze half" recipes for large slow cookers? Tips? Or pitfalls to avoid? Or things that can be assembled frozen and plopped into the slow cooker later? I'm especially hoping for healthier/veggie-heavy dishes, since a lot of the recipes I've found for freezer cooking contain no veg at all! I don't want to be buying fresh produce or doing a lot of prep work when I have the baby, but I still want to be eating vegetables.

Also, as a side issue, later this week I'm picking up a pork shoulder picnic roast, bone-in, which I would like to use to make carnitas. Unlike the pork shoulder I normally buy for carnitas, this one has a layer of fat on top. I assume I should trim the fat, but how much should I trim? All of it?

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
leatherfemme
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
chili
lentil soup (pretty much any bean soup/stew, actually)
spaghetti sauce

You can add all sorts of veggies to these, too.
oh_muffy
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
Chicken Paprikash! If you don't have a recipe you like for it, I can provide one. It's only got onions for veggies, but with my recipe I use low-fat ingredients where I can, so that helps.
shortsweetcynic
Apr. 1st, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
not the OP, but i'd love it. i recently got a 4qt slow cooker and am using it as often as i can. :)
coflower
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
I like to do whole chickens and roasts to freeze. I don't put a lot of seasonings, just enough to make things taste better than just blah. But this way if I get a hankering for a specific cuisine the meat or chicken is ready (in portions suitable for most meals). All I need to do it let it defrost for a day and I can have shepards pie, chicken soft tacos, Dump Soup or whatever.

Let's face it. Staring at the freezer full of stuff you've already eaten a couple of weeks ago sometimes ends up in the trash. If you minimize herbs and spices you can maximize your food later.

Precooked meat and poultry is the way to go, IMO. I'm single so I take that from my own experience. Picking up three or four other things on the way home from where ever like buns, some BBQ sauce and a prewashed salad & I have a meal in no time. Takes the boring out of the boring meat you slow-cooked (which is always good right out of the Crock). Opens up your options and you get more variety.

Good luck and congrats on the kidlette.
theaspiringlife
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
I did a ton of crock pot cooking while I was pregnant. Here are the things that I made mass quantities of for the freezer:

Taco Soup
Italian Beef
BBQ Beef
BBQ Pork
Cuban Pork
Chicken & Noodles
Meatballs
Fiesta Chicken

BBQ Beef & BBQ Pork are as simple as it gets: Throw any beef or pork roast in the crock pot with your preferred BBQ sauce. Cook on low until the meat falls apart then shred and serve.

Italian Beef is simply a beef roast and a jar of pepperoncinis. Either remove the pepperoncini stems or buy the pepperoncinis designed for sandwiches that are already shredded up and without stems. Pour the whole jar including the juice in with the roast. Cook on low until the meat falls apart then shred and serve. We eat it on sandwiches or on baked potatoes.

Cuban Pork & Fiesta Chicken are both recipes I got from this community so you can search for those. If you can't find them I can link them for you.

I can provide recipes for the others if you desire. Good luck!
vamysteryfan
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:52 am (UTC)
Mazel tov on the bebe! A long life and a healthy one!

Potatoes don't freeze well in soups - they get mushy. Cheese doesn't freeze that well in sauces - e.g. pesto sauce. You can make pesto sauce without the sauce and freeze it in serving sizes. Add the cheese when you defrost the pesto.

If you freeze cooked meats in sauce from your slow cooker, you can add a bag of frozen veggies and have a healthy dinner in no time. I swear by those lovely dishes from Glad/Ziploc. They stack up nicely in the freezer.
drgaellon
Apr. 1st, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
Stews without potatoes freeze well, including bean-based stews (both chilis and curries - channa masala works great). I make ratatouille and caponata in my crock; both freeze nicely. I make big batches of onion soup, and freeze in one- or two-serving packages; I defrost, reheat, then transfer to oven crocks, top with toast and cheese and broil.
ryokomusouka
Apr. 1st, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)
I just made beef stew from leftover roast. Dice a couple of potatoes, add some frozen mixed veggies and brown gravy mix and done.
pale_chartreuse
Apr. 1st, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
The crock was great for me when my son was little. The scheduling trick was to put dinner in the crock during the morning nap, then you both get a bit of sleep at the afternoon nap. Congratulations!
annaonthemoon
Apr. 1st, 2011 09:34 am (UTC)
I freeze everything I make in my crock pot with no problems.
benbenberi
Apr. 1st, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
Dishes with potato and/or dairy have freezer issues, as mentioned above. Excluding those, I've never had a problem with soups, stews or the like. Also you can freeze pre-cooked cut up meats & veggies.

For all things, if you package them for freezing in the quantities you want to use (e.g. by serving size or recipe-size) it makes life simpler when you retrieve them.

For storage ease, ziploc-style freezer bags are often recommended - stuff spread out flatly freezes faster & stacks more compactly -- but Tupperware-type containers are easier to put wet stuff into.
nanchanone
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
Here's my repertoire of cook half eat half crockpot meals:

Chicken Taco Soup
Sausage and Bean Soup
Kalua Pork (Hawaiian pulled pork)
Shredded beef for tacos
Hoisin pork roast
Green Chile

You can also do things like cook a bunch of chicken to use in enchiladas or casseroles. I did this last weekend, and it was super easy and tasty.

You can also do things like take some frozen meatballs and add sauce. Cook on low for a few hours, boil up some pasta, and dinner is ready!

Not crockpot, but if you freeze chicken pieces in ziplocs with marinades, all you have to do is thaw and bake/broil/grill and add a side.
wheresthepaper
Apr. 2nd, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)
That Kalua pork sounds delicious. Is it from the community?
nanchanone
Apr. 3rd, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
It's one I got from an old Hawaiian cookbook. It's just pork shoulder, Hawaiian salt (1 TBSP or so for a medium sized roast), and a little liquid smoke. Cook on low for 10-12 hours, remove meat and shred. Whatever you don't eat right away can be frozen.
snobahr
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
I make this as Christmas Presents
Hungarian Goulash - and I separate it out into the soup-sized ziploc containers (they hold about 3 cups). They freeze and reheat well.

Congrats on bebbeh!

winds_requiem
Apr. 1st, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
regarding vegetables, I absolutely adore those steam-in-a-bag vegetables in the freezer section. they're fast and easy, a nice variety, and pretty cheap (especially if you can find them on sale!) this involves no prep work and you can stock up on them ahead of time. so even if you make a slow cooker recipe with few vegetables, you can have easy vegetables on the side using these with as little effort as possible.
thistle_chaser
Apr. 1st, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
Unlike the pork shoulder I normally buy for carnitas, this one has a layer of fat on top. I assume I should trim the fat, but how much should I trim? All of it?

Whenever I fail to remove every single bit of fat from beef when I cook in the crock pot, I end up sorry. (Hi layer if liquid fat over everything!) It won't crisp up (or mine never did) so it's probably better to just remove it.
wheresthepaper
Apr. 2nd, 2011 10:24 am (UTC)
I have nothing to add other than congratulations on your baby!
kamomil
Apr. 3rd, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
I discovered that stew froze better if all the food pieces were covered with the liquid, in the freezing container. Also I bought smaller containers to freeze things in, so that it wouldn't take 5 days to thaw in the fridge. I got things that were foil, with cardboard lids.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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