Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Planning for Freezer-to-Slow-Cooker Prep Day

I'm planning a slow cooker prep day with some lovely ladies, we're calling it "Slow Cooker Palooza".  We're all busy moms who would like healthy meals that don't take a lot of time, so we're going to take advantage of our freezers and slow cookers. We're getting together to share the work in preparing ingredients for slow cooker meals and freeze them in gallon bags.  Then, 24 hours before you want to make the dish, put it in the refrigerator to defrost so it's ready to go the next morning.

We're going to start off our day by going grocery shopping together at Costco. Natalie is a member, so we're taking advantage of that. And Heather has a new house with a big kitchen so we'll do all our prep work there. I'm going to bring over all of my measuring devices, cutting boards, knives, etc., and the recipes and labels for the cooking instructions.

But before we get to that part, we need to narrow down the recipes we're going to make. We're not getting together until next month, but I've been planning for a while since that's just the sort of gal I am.

The Prep

I've selected some healthy recipes from my online bookmarks and my Cooking Light slow cooker and diabetes slow cooker cookbooks. I'm not diabetic, but if you can find diabetic recipes that don't use artificial sweeteners, they're usually pretty healthy since diabetics need to watch their carbohydrate and calorie intake.

I'm aiming for
  • Slow cooker recipes that are healthy.
    Low calories, full of veggies if possible, and no cans of cream-of-something soup.
  • Ingredients that freeze well.
    Apparently raw potatoes don't freeze well at home.
  • Effortless dishes that don't require much if any prep in the morning before you throw it in the slow cooker or when you get home at night.
    Who has time for that! I want to be able to come home, maybe throw some steam-in-the-bag veggies in the microwave and make some pasta, and that's it.
  • Dishes that can cook all day unattended.
    I found tons of great sounding recipes that cooked quickly in 4-6 hours or needed some attention after partially cooking, but we don't have that luxury.
  • Variety. 
    I want to change up the protein, ethnicity/flavor (don't want all curries!), and type of dish (not all soups) so we don't get bored. 
Natalie, Heather, and Martha need to help me narrow down the recipes since we have to make dishes their families are going to eat!

The Contenders



Multiple Proteins



  • Chicken tortilla soup from Natalie Hodson 
  • Spicy Asian apricot chicken from Crystal & Co.
  • Fajita chicken from This Mama Cooks! Add frozen peppers & onions, salsa/rotel, serve with black beans on the side and corn tortillas.
  • African peanut stew from my blog.   Replace the chicken with chickpeas for a vegetarian version.  The stock is in a can/box and added when putting all ingredients in slow cooker.
  • Slow cooker artichoke pasta from A Year of Slow Cooking. As written this is vegetarian, but I would want to add chicken.  Could make this most from cans rather than freezing the ingredients, substituting a can of fat-free evaporated milk for the cream. 
  • Indian-style chicken with pureed spinach from The Best Diabetes Slow Cooker Recipes - with chicken thighs, diced tomatoes, and spinach along with lots of spices.  We'd probably only chop the spinach or keep it whole to make it easier.  I've got an immersion blender though, which would be quick to puree the spinach.


Of course I'll post our experiences to let everybody know how it went!

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!