If your holiday schedule is like mine, dinner is often a scramble for whatever I have on hand in the fridge or pantry. I’ve found a way to plan ahead—prepping four slow-cooker meals at one time and freezing them until I need them. With a little planning, a lot of chopping, and a few zip-top freezer bags, hearty homemade suppers are just a low, slow simmer away. And by buying the produce you need for these meals in bulk, you’ll be saving money. Who couldn’t use a little extra “green” during the holidays?
1. List. Make your grocery list and do your shopping. Don’t forget to buy large freezer bags.
2. Counter space. Make sure you have plenty of room to work. Use cookie sheets to keep the ingredients for the various recipes organized.
3. Bags. Label all your freezer bags before you fill them.
4. Chopping. Chop all the vegetables first, then potatoes, then the meat. This way your potatoes will not brown, and you will have to clean your cutting board only one time.
5. Pantry items. Attach a sticky note to any pantry items you’re not going to freeze to remind yourself that they’re for the meals you’ve prepped and frozen.
6. Instructions. Make copies of the cooking instructions and tape them to the freezer bags so you won’t have to go scurrying for the recipes when it’s time to cook.
7. Slow cooker. To make these recipes, you’ll need a large 6-quart slow cooker. If you have a smaller cooker or need to feed fewer people, cut the recipes in half.
8. Have a prepping party. Buy enough to make two of each meal and invite a friend over to chop and prep with you. You’ll each end up with three freezer to table meals.
—By Karry Hosford, Contributor at Relish Magazine