Does this sound like your life? You start out each morning getting breakfast on the table for your kids. This is followed by numerous reminders for them to sit down and eat their breakfast. Then you pack lunches, careful not to put strawberries into the lunchbox of the kid who hates strawberries. Next, you remind the kids to finish getting dressed, telling your daughter (again) that no she cannot wear sandals to school, because it’s December. After dealing with the ensuing tantrum, you encourage the kids for the fifth time to please brush their teeth. This all happens in a blur and leaves you exhausted.
If you’re living that dream like I am, then you know dinner is the last thing on your mind. You are just trying to survive the morning! Of course, you’re no better prepared to think about dinner later in the day. Some days you might have extracurricular activities and not get back home until dinnertime. Other days helping with homework takes a lot longer than you anticipated as you try to figure out this “new math.” Then there are the days when you’re just downright exhausted and can’t even think straight, let alone plan and cook a meal.
But fear not moms, I am going to share my secret weapon for busy days. It’s a slow cooker! I have had a slow cooker for years, and it has surely made my life easier. You just dump in some ingredients and turn it on, and 8 hours later you have a meal. However, on the days when I am too busy to come up with a recipe, let alone prep and chop ingredients, just plugging in the slow cooker can seem like a chore.
This is why your slow cooker AND your freezer are your best friends. Take a day when you have some time (weekends work for me) and prep the ingredients for some slow cooker recipes. Place them in a large freezer bag, label the bag with the recipe and the date, then freeze it until you have one of those crazy busy days. When faced with a hectic schedule, simply grab the bag, dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and let dinner prepare itself.
Freezer Slow Cooker Meals to Try
Not every slow cooker recipe lends itself to freezing. How do you know which recipes will make you look like a kitchen rockstar? Here are some tried-and-true recipes that can be prepped beforehand and frozen, then cooked in the slow cooker. Give them a try next time you’re short on time. I’m also including a recipe for my family’s favorite freezer-to-slow-cooker meal (Mexican Chicken!).
1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can of corn, drained
1 10-ounce can of diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Place the chicken, beans, corn, and tomatoes and green chilies in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Label the bag then flatten it and freeze until needed.
When you are ready to use, cut open the bag and dump the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 5-6 hours, stirring a few times during the cooking process if you can. If the liquid in the slow cooker becomes too runny, you can use a turkey baster to remove some of the liquid during cooking.
With 30 minutes of cook time left (or when you get home), add the shredded cheese to the slow cooker. Cover and cook for remaining time.
Serve with rice. This tastes great topped with salsa as well.
Hopefully these recipes will help make stressful mornings, days and nights a little easier. Once you figure out which of these recipes your family really loves, you can make them in larger batches and keep your freezer stocked. Aren’t you glad you’ve got the slow cooker and the freezer in your life? Best. Friends. Forever.