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I spent years cooking meals from scratch and eating out when I was too tired to spend hours in the kitchen.
It wasn’t until I was expecting that I finally embraced my slow cooker and discovered the utter joy of saving time and money, by making freezer meals for the whole month in one weekend.
Nowadays, my slow cooker works daily as my chef de cuisine and my freezer is stockpiled with at least 5 easy freezer meals that I can just take out in the morning, stick it in the crockpot and have a nice dinner ready for my family in the evening.
It has saved my sanity and actually made us eat healthier and spend less money eating out.
So, if you are not yet a convert to freezer meals and you are a new or expecting mom, let me share with you my monthly shopping trip, prep work and 5 Easy Freezer Meals that will make you change your mind and forever appreciate your slow cooker.
When I think of all the money I’ve wasted by not shopping at Sam’s Club and batch prepping meals, my heart aches. I could probably have put one kid through college! Hopefully the savings I am building now will make up for those years.
For this particular trip to my local Sam’s Club, I was able to buy most of the products needed for my 5 Easy Freezer Meals, plus a few other necessities like toilet paper and prenatal vitamins.
My go-to prenatal vitamins is the Nature Made® Prenatal Multi + DHA (200mg) 150ct. softgels. It’s a 5 month supply of easy to swallow, one pill a day that I take with food. As an expecting mom you know the importance of good nutrition, but that is only the first step. Supplementing your diet with a good prenatal is not only important while trying to conceive, but also during pregnancy. In fact, it’s often recommended that women start taking prenatal vitamins 6 months in advance of conception to build up levels of folic acid.
Here are some reasons why I choose Nature Made® Prenatal Multi + DHA (200mg) 150ct. softgels from Sam’s Club:
- Provides essential vitamins and minerals (before and during pregnancy) including Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Iodine, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D3†
- Provides 200mg DHA which may help support fetal brain and eye development †
- Folic Acid is an important B Vitamin for Women of Childbearing Age and Pregnant Women – Plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system.†
- Adequate folic acid in healthful diets may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a neural tube defect.
- Nature Made® is the #1 Pharmacist recommended vitamin and supplement brand.*
So when you head over to Sam’s Club for the ingredients on these 5 Easy Freezer Meals, grab yourself a bottle or two of Nature Made® Prenatal Multi + DHA (200mg) 150ct. softgels. You can also purchase it online here.
This is the longest part of the process and it can seem daunting the first few times that you do this, but believe me, the time it will save you daily will more than make up for it. Here are a few tips to make the prep work easier:
- Host a freezer meal party. My local mom’s group does this once a month. The moms shop for all the food and parcel out together, while one dad does all the chopping of the produce. It’s a great way to get together and have fun and get your freezer meals done for the month. The cost is evenly shared as well, so a great way to save money and have a greater variety of meals. You can even theme the party by choosing a different cuisine for each month (i.e. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, etc…).
- Enlist the help of family or friends. When you are pregnant, it’s the perfect time to ask for help. Again, you can turn it into a social gathering and bonding time with loved ones.
- Prep the veggies on one day and put the meals together on another. There are no rules that everything has to be done in one day.
- Use you food processor. Next to my slow cooker, my food processor is my next most valuable kitchen tool when making freezer meals. I use it for a lot of things, especially when I am chopping 10 lbs of onions.
- Have your spouse do a share of the prepping by either helping with the dishes or browning the meat. Your husband can set a cast iron griddle on the grill and brown all the meat for the meals while you prep the veggies, or vice versa.
- Skip the browning of the meat altogether. It’s true that browning the meat locks in the juices and flavor, but if you are short on time or in the midst of motherhood, it’s completely fine to skip this step.
The easiest part of making freezer meals. Here are some tips to get you going:
- Use a slow cooker that is equivalent to the size of the meal you are cooking. It should be 2/3 of the way full. For 2-3 people, a smaller slow cooker makes more sense.
- Write the name of the recipe and date it was made on the freezer bags before you fill them. It’s a lot easier than trying to write it later.
- You can let the meal thaw overnight in the fridge for faster cooking the next day. You can thaw it by submerging it in a big bowl of room temperature water or just put the frozen meal in the slow cooker and cook it for a couple more hours. I like the last option better, because I always forget to put meals in the fridge overnight.
- You can convert low to high temperature times for cooking according to your needs. If you will be away from home most of the day, cooking it on a low temperature makes sense. If you need to put something together in half the time, high temperature is the way to go. As a general rule of thumb, you can cut the cooking time in half if you cook it on high. So, if a recipe asks for 7 hrs on low, cook it on high for 3-3.5 hrs.
5 Easy Freezer Meals
I am taking you on a global journey with these recipes, because variety is the spice of life!
Moroccan Chicken Stew
Warm and rich, this stew is so fragrant, easy to make and a great option if you are looking for comfort food. As a base you can use rice, couscous or even quinoa. See full recipe here.
This is an easier and cheaper version of a classic. Made with stew meat, this version is perfect for the slow cooker, but still has all the nice flavors of the more complicated and expensive version. You can serve it over rice, pasta or with potatoes and vegetables. See full recipe here.
You can’t go wrong with Turkey Meatballs. This versatile dish can be added to pasta sauce, topped with cheese for a sandwich, combined with barbecue sauce for a game day appetizer or eaten plain as a snack. I love meatballs as a mid day snack, because they are low on carbs and high on lean protein, which makes you full without the guilt. Win-win! See full recipe here.
Who doesn’t love tacos? I certainly do! And every once in a while I crave this delicious beef barbacoa, which is so easy to make and so flavorful! You may want to make more than one batch of this dish as it can be served with rice and beans for a typical dinner, tortillas for taco Tuesdays or in sandwiches, enchiladas, empanadas, etc. See full recipe here.
I am a big fan of Cuban food and it’s one of my must haves when I am down in Miami, but around my house it’s pretty hard to find good Cuban food, so I started making my own. From Ropa Vieja to Picadillo, I love it all. I especially love Lechon Asado or Cuban Pork and this slow cooker version is amazing! My favorite thing is to eat it with a crusty baguette bread. That way I can sop up all the juices. It’s finger licking good! See full recipe here.
Please share with me if you make any of these 5 easy freezer meal recipes and your thoughts on them by tagging me on Instagram @glxplorerbaby.