Sunday, June 2, 2013

Frozen Slowcooker Dinners

Ok so I braved it (and can't believe I actually did!) I bagged 32 slowcooker dinners and have them ready to go in the freezer! And it was a mission! I don't think I'll do it the same again, but I might change it up a bit and do it differently ;-)

SO to save you all the joy of going through and sorting everything I've done it all for you and will attempt to share it with you here :-)

The original idea came from another blog post here 'Who Needs a Cape?' which is SUCH an awesome idea. Basically, get tonnes of ingredients and slowcooker recipes and spend a few hours slicing, dicing, and bagging to make yourself a heap of dinners ready for the slowcooker and store them in the freezer!

I went through the recipes listed and saw they were all in American measurements and whilst there was a base list of ingredients, all the recipes weren't in one place, and one of the recipe 
links didn't work so I couldn't access it. 

I spent an afternoon compiling a list of New Zealand weight/size ingredients and only using the ingredients from 16 recipes (I had taken out one recipe that sounded too spicy for my liking).

I had my list ready and my recipes all copied onto ONE document and printed out and was ready to tackle this monster! I am SO blessed to have a FABULOUS Mum who lives in the same town as me, so I called on her to help out with the kids while I bagged these dinners. I do not envy anyone who would try to do this sans-help! 

I had ordered all my meat (embarrassed to say it was from Mad Butcher and not free-range!), ordered all my sauces, spices, etc. via online shopping, and set off to the markets.

Problem #1 - I don't like the thought of eating all those poor caged chickens! Whilst the whole chicken I got from Countdown was free range, all those chicken thighs .. I don't feel good about!)
Remedy #1 - Cut down on the amount of chicken recipes (since the cost will go up with free range) and order earlier to guarantee getting enough free range.

So it was pretty much lunchtime before I got home (I live 30min out of town) - half the day gone! 

Problem #2 - I couldn't pick up my ordered groceries until 10am so we had to muck around a while doing other odd jobs while we waited for 10am to roll around. 
Remedy #2 - Next time I'll get my groceries earlier in the week (pretty much all of them are non-perishable), order my meat to pick up Sat morning (which was ready 8am for me), and get up early to get my veges from the markets. That way I'll get it all finished much earlier in the day!

The loot - some of the shopping pile

I got out the plastic ziploc bags and a vivid and started labelling each bag with the name of the recipe, and if there was anything extra that needed adding at a later stage (e.g. chopped peanuts for serving) while I ate my lunch.

Problem #3 - This would be a pain to do if you just wanted to get going with filling the bags
Remedy #3 - Next time label the bags ahead of time. (although now that I've labelled them I can wash and reuse them as I use them, though I may need to re-label if I choose not to make that recipe anymore)

Some of the chicken, and the labelled bags ready for filling

After lunch Mum and I set to sorting out what went in which bag - I did all the boneless skinless thighs first as there were the most of them - ewww gross handling that much raw chicken I would not enjoy being a butcher!

Problem #4 - This took AGES! I think the original link said the lady did it AND her clean up in 4 hours. Well it took the 2 of us 3 hours NOT INCLUDING clean up! 
Remedy #4 - Next time I don't think I'll do as many recipes (Possibly if there is a really yummy one, I could triple it, therefore needing a third less recipes, for the same yield)

The mess pre-clean up! This was only part of it too!

During this process we found there were HUGE differences in the recipes, and I won't know the outcome of these until I cook them, which is a little daunting! Some had HEAPS of liquid, and others hardly any at all! Some look like the amount of 3 dinners and others may struggle to feed all my family?! Weird since the originals said they'd feed a family of 4 with some having enough for a lunch too .. We shall see! Also, I hope the pork roast I got fits in my slowcooker - it's pretty huge!

Problem #5 - Recipes not working .. differing amounts in each (this hasn't been proven yet but I have a sneaking suspicion it will!)
Remedy #5 - Trial and error I guess is the only way to sort this one - making sure I write on my master which ones I liked - or even deleting those that I don't like!

Bags all finished! (cute bunting in background made by Kiwi at Heart - Thanks Leonie it's been up since Christmas and I love it so it's staying there!)

The other mildly funny thing that happened was there was one with heaps of liquid, and the plastic bag tipped over and spilled over the floor. Then there was the bag with the hole in it! It was funny and annoying at the same time ;-)

Problem #6 - Liquid escaping during filling the bags 
Remedy #6 - Sit the bags in icecream containers while filling them to hold them upright and catch anything that may come out of a holey bag!

Bags in the ute ready to transport down to the chest freezer

Ok if you've read to here then good on you! I think you're ready to tackle this thing yourself because you obviously have patience!
The other thing is a friend of mine enquired if they were all meat recipes. While the ones I did are - I don't see why you couldn't do the same with vegetarian slowcooker recipes. The only thing to keep in mind that potato doesn't freeze so well (just put a note to add later).

The bags all in the freezer YIPEE!

OK so I will do a separate post with all the recipes and master shopping list soon and link it in here. I will also attempt to make sure I put any notes on how I find each recipe as I cook it as I go and link that here too (once I cook them!)

Let me know how you go if you attempt this and of any tips you may have too!!
One more different way I am thinking of doing this too is when I make a slowcooked dinner, I should make 2 - one to cook and one to freeze, thereby slowly adding to the freezer instead of taking a whole day to do it!

Sima J


  1. how much did the groceries cost all up to do 32 meals? Well done super mum!!

  2. WOW!!! Epic! I can't wait to hear how they turn out after cooking! I wait in anticipation for the follow up posts for this one!!

  3. YOu are amazing!! Thanks for sharing what worked and what didnt as you went too... very helpful xx


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