My slow cooker is my BFF. I use it several times a week, every week. Whoever came up with the idea of make-ahead slow cooker freezer meals is a genius! It’s a total time saver. In just a few hours (including shopping time) you can put together enough meals for a few weeks. That’s a healthy, delicious dinner every night with enough for leftovers too!

Choose recipes your family already enjoys and that adapt well to being frozen first. For example, we don’t like to freeze slow cooker meals made with potatoes because they end up losing their appeal after being frozen. Other veggies and fruit (I’ve got two below!) work great.

I plan out the meals/bags I want to make and head to the store with my list. Buying some items that are already frozen and/or chopped is a great time saver. For example, frozen chicken works well because it’s easy to pull out the number I need and not have to worry about them freezing in a big lump.
Then when I get home, I chop all the onions (and cook them if my recipe calls for that), carrots, celery, etc. I measure out any dry seasonings I need. Then I work in a semi-assembly line until all the bags are filled.

Labeling is so, so important. It’s nice to include cooking time as well as if there are any special instructions like adding water to the slow cooker or if I need to add an ingredient, like sour cream, at the end of cooking time.

12 easy slow cooker meals to make ahead and freeze
1. Meatballs + Tomato Sauce

One bag frozen meatballs (homemade are great too!), one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

Cook time: 3-4 hours on HIGH

Serve with: cooked pasta, green salad, garlic bread

Serves 4, can easily be doubled

2. Ginger Peach Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 12-ounce bag of frozen peach slices, 1 sliced red onion, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 2 teaspoons ground coriander

Cook time: 4-5 hours on HIGH

Serve with: cooked white or brown rice, steamed veggies

Serves 6

3. Vegetable Beef Stew

2 pounds stew meat, 1 diced onion, 2 sliced carrots, 1 sliced parsnip, 1 large rutabaga (peeled and cut into cubes), 1/2 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons beef stock base or 3 bouillon cubes

Extra instructions: add 1 1/2 cups water to slow cooker

Cook time: 8-10 hours on LOW

Serve with: mashed potatoes or rice

Serves 4-6

4. Teriyaki Chicken

2 pounds chicken thighs, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 can pineapple chunks

Cook time: 8 hours on LOW

Serve with: cooked white or brown rice, green veggies

Serves 4-6

5. Pork Country Ribs + BBQ Sauce

2 pounds boneless country ribs, one bottle BBQ sauce (your favorite kind)

Cook time: 8-10 hours on LOW

Serve with: mashed potatoes, veggies, and salad

Serves 4

6. Salsa Chicken

2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thighs), 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa

Cook time: 6-7 hours on LOW

Serving suggestions: rice bowls, tacos, enchilada filling, nachos, burritos

Serves 4-8, maybe more depending on how it’s used after cooking

7. Mushroom Barley Stew

1 pound mushrooms, 2 sliced carrots, 1 sliced celery rib, 1 diced onion, 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 cup uncooked barley

Extra instructions: add 2 quarts vegetable stock to the slow cooker before cooking

Cook time: 8 hours on LOW

Serve with: hot, crusty bread or rolls

Serves 4-6

8. Lentil-Butternut Squash Curry

1 diced onion, 2 cups red or brown lentils, 2 cups diced butternut squash, 1 large sliced carrot, 14-ounce can coconut milk, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 teaspoons salt

Special instructions: Add 4 cups water to the slow cooker before cooking. Check halfway and add more water if needed. If soup is too thick at the end, add more water.

Cook time: 6-8 hours on LOW

Serve with: hot, cooked rice, flatbread, raita

Serves 8
9. Sausage Lentil Soup

12 to 14 ounces sliced kielbasa sausage, 2 cups brown lentils, 2 carrots (diced), 1 celery rib (diced), 1 diced onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Extra instructions: For best flavor, brown kielbasa and diced onion, let cool completely before adding to bag (optional, but results in a better flavor and texture), add 2 quarts of water or stock to the slow cooker before cooking

Cook time: 4-5 hours on HIGH

Serve with: fresh bread and/or rice

Serves 6

10. Sloppy Joes

One pound ground meat (pork, turkey, chicken, or beef), 1 diced onion, 1 diced green bell pepper, 15-ounce can tomato sauce (or 1 6-ounce can tomato paste mixed with 1 cup water), one Sloppy Joes seasoning mix packet

Cook time: 3-4 hours on HIGH

Serve with: buns, veggie fries

Serves 4-6

11. Cranberry-Mustard Pork

One (3-4 pound) pork roast (loin, shoulder, butt), 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon brown or Dijon mustard, 1 diced onion, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, zest and juice of 1 orange

Cook time: 8-10 hours on LOW

Serve with: mashed potatoes or rice, steamed broccoli

Serves 6-8

12. Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds stew meat, 1 pound sliced mushrooms, 1 diced onion, 1/2 cup red wine, 1 tablespoon beef stock paste (or 2 bouillon cubes)

Extra directions: Add 1 cup water to slow cooker before cooking. Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream before serving (do not add freeze with other ingredients or add at beginning of cooking time or it will curdle)

Cook time: 8 hours on LOW

Serve with: rice or noodles

Serves 4-6

Slow Cooker Freezer Bag Tips + Hints

  • LABEL THE BAGS. Label them with the name of the recipe, cooking time, and any special instructions (adding liquid, etc.)
  • Bags can be thawed out in the fridge overnight before popping the contents into the slow cooker the next day, though it’s really not necessary.
  • The bags can be frozen flat, but I prefer to freeze the bags upright to make them easier to pop into the slow cooker. If you plan on thawing the bags overnight (totally fine), then it doesn’t matter how you freeze them.
  • I don’t like to freeze potatoes. I also don’t like broccoli or cauliflower cooked in a slow cooker (totally my preference!). If you prefer to add these veggies, by all means do. I recommend buying the already frozen bags and adding those instead of freezing your own. (Again, preference.)
  • The bags won’t really take that much longer to cook if they are frozen when going into the slow cooker.
  • Searing the pork roast and stew meat adds flavor, but isn’t completely necessary – it’s a way to cut down on prep (and cooling time).
  • Some of these recipes don’t include salt. This is on purpose so that salt can be added at the end according to personal taste.
  • If you chose to add dairy in the form of cream, milk, sour cream, yogurt, or cream cheese, do during the last 30-60 minutes (for low and high) so the dairy products don’t curdle.
  • The cooking times I’ve given are the ones I typically use. The general rule of thumb is 6-8 hours on LOW or 3-5 on HIGH. For bigger cuts of meat, I prefer the longer, slower cooking time. It’s totally up to you and your schedule.
  • Broth can be substituted for the wine – I’m not sure it really cooks off because of the lid on the slow cooker.

Place pork chops in a slow cooker. With 3 ingredients and no effort, enjoy a mouthwatering meal
Crock Pot Chicken and Gravy