Our Super Awesome Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Cooking Day Before the Baby Came!

by | Oct 14, 2019 | Uncategorized | 16 comments

Merchandise is Here!

It’s Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada (a holiday), and we are all feeling thankful yet a little anxious.

I’m writing this on Saturday morning, and as of yet there is no baby (and Rebecca is past her due date). But last week on social media I was posting about a great day that Katie and Rebecca and I had a little over a week ago when we all got together to cook freezer meals.

Cooking Freezer Meals While Rebecca was Pregnant

We had 12 different meals that we were going to cook, and then beforehand everybody told me how many they wanted. We ended making around 65 meals I think? Some Katie and I will take home, but most we put in Rebecca and Connor’s deep freeze.

We did the shopping one day, and then the next day we spent cooking.

Well, it’s not really cooking, because the only thing we actually cooked was a whole ton of ground beef that I browned up before we froze it, but in general, we just chopped, measured, and put it all in bags. I also picked a TON of tomatoes at a local farm the week before, and I had processed them and put them in freezer bags earlier, while I was still at home, so that we didn’t have to buy any canned tomatoes but could just use fresh (you can see the tomatoes in the bags at the front).

Then you freeze the meals as is, with everything added, and the night before you want to eat it you take it out of the freezer to let it defrost in the fridge. Then you pop it in the slow cooker, according to the directions, and presto! You’ve got dinner.

Anyway, this isn’t a cooking blog, and I wasn’t planning on writing about this, but so many people asked me for the recipes on social media that we actually created a spreadsheet with all the recipes we’ve used for freezer meals (including some recipes that Rebecca made on her own on another cooking day). All of them we found around the internet for free, and then we just created shopping lists with them. So you can see the links for the recipes, the ingredients, and the organization.

In last Friday’s weekly email, that goes out to about 25,000 people every week, I had a bunch of pictures and that spreadsheet available for download, along with some instructions to make the day go easier. But it occurred to me that many who read the blog may not realize that I do send out extra content in emails every week. And many of you who are signed up for my monthly email (but not my weekly one) are missing out, because most of the personal stuff gets put in the weekly email! That’s also where I share any big things that are going on behind the scenes of the blog (like babies and miscarriages and things to be happy about and things to be sad about); angst I’m having; new book contracts (I’ve got a big one to tell you about soon!); and I often give out Amazon gift cards or prizes to people who sign up or answer quick surveys.)

So if you’re just reading the blog on the net, that’s great. I’m glad you’re here! But I’d invite you to join the bigger community and sign up for the emails, too.

If you’d like to get the extra inside scoop news, plus my spreadsheet with all of the recipes, and ingredients, and instructions for our slow cooker freezing day, just sign up below. (The link to the spreadsheet will show up right after you fill in the box!)

A Few Tips for Making a Slow Cooker Freezer Cooking Day Easier

Use Ziploc Freezer Bags

I’m super waste-conscious and plastic-conscious, and I hate using plastic bags. I’m a save-the-glass-jars person and I freeze everything in those. But for freezer meals, you do need the plastic bags, because you have to be able to squeeze all the air out to prevent freezer burn. But you can wash them and reuse them a few times afterwards, so it’s not as bad.

Use a Sharpie to Write Instructions on the Bag Beforehand

Before you start cooking, label all your bags using a permanent marker with the name of the recipe and the instructions. Something like :

 

“Chicken Taco Soup: Add 6 cups chicken stock. Cook on Low for 8 Hours. Add 1 cup macaroni in last 1/2 hour of cooking time.”

Or: 

“Thai Chicken Curry Soup: Add 4 cups chicken stock & 2 cans of coconut milk. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours.”

When you’re preparing freezer slow cooker meals, you don’t want to add the liquid like chicken stock, etc. to the bag before you freeze it, because it will take far too much room and you don’t need it. And some ingredients, like frozen peas or pasta, don’t get added until the last bit of cooking. So you want to make sure that those instructions are on the bags beforehand.

Labelling the Ziploc Bags for Our Freezer Meals for Pregnant Woman

Stand the Bags Up, Grouped by Recipe, Around the Kitchen

We then put the bags together based on what recipe it was, and stood the bags up, so that it was easy to add the ingredients. If you add something solid, like the vegetables, first, then the bags will stand up easier. Do NOT add just something liquid (like tomatoes) without being super careful, or the bag could fall over and make a mess. Twice. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

Add by Ingredient, Not by Recipe

It’s faster to add all the garlic at once, and all the oregano at once, and all the carrots at once, than it is to prepare all the ingredients for one recipe at once. That’s what’s nice about batch cooking. So if 5 out of your 8 recipes require oregano, you just go around the kitchen to all the bags that need oregano and measure it in, all at the same time.

Mark Off Your Freezer Cooking Spreadsheet as You Add Each Ingredient

As we added ingredients we would just bold the ingredients that were added, so that we’d know what was done and we didn’t repeat anything!

Buy Pre-Chopped Garlic and Onion, when Possible

I’m a stickler for fresh garlic, so I never, ever buy the pre-chopped stuff. But in this case, we did because it was so easy and we needed so much. We didn’t buy pre-chopped onions, though, and this was the result:

Even the dog was rubbing his eyes!

People on Instagram and Facebook told me you can buy pre-chopped onions in the freezer section, and I’ll likely do that next time we have to chop that many onions (I think we had 27 we had to do?)

Have Fun and Make it a Tradition!

We honestly had a great day (even if it was tiring). We all agreed it was well worth it. And so we’ll likely keep doing this three times a year or so, and we may also combine it with making gifts, like bath bombs or massage oils or some baby shower gifts at the same time. I enjoy doing it with my girls, but you can get a group of friends together, or a sibling group, or whatever. And then make extra to bless others with who could really use a break.

So again–sign up for the emails above! And you’ll get the link to our spreadsheet with all of the recipes. Plus lots more behind-the-scenes content from the blog, so you don’t miss anything.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! And I do hope that when you all read this, we’ll be heading to the hospital….

Have you ever tried a big slow cooker freezer cooking day? Any tips for us? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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16 Comments

  1. Becky

    I tend to do my freezer cooking in smaller batches, like a couple extra meals here and there as meat goes on sale, so it never occurred to me to add all same ingredients at once. That’s a great tip! I have done a spreadsheet before and it’s so helpful.

    One thing that I factored in for the last two pre-baby freezer preps that I did was having a few options that can be heated up relatively fast, for days that my sleep deprived brain forgot about defrosting before the crock pot. 😂 This actually works great for some recipes that are more time consuming to prep, but are nice to have as prepackaged convenience foods. Like I have a baked chicken tender recipe that I love, but the breading process is too long for weekdays. I’ve found that if I do them early in the process while I have freezer space, I can make a big batch, freeze them in layers separated by freezer paper on a pan that fits in the freezer, and then bag them up once they’re frozen solid. And then I can just take out what I need when it’s time to bake. Same with taquitos and burritos, though I’m still working on finding a good recipe for the latter.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Love that, Becky!

      Reply
  2. Wifey

    Great tips! With a newly walking almost 1 year old I’m trying to get better at freezer meal prep. I really appreciate your time sharing these ideas!

    And I feel for ya, Rebecca. My little dude was 11 days past his due date and I was in labor for 119 hours. As uncomfortable as you are, attempt to rest and not worry! And dancing helps, even if you feel like a hippo- crank up some Lecrae and start moving! Bonus points for entertaining your hubby at the same time. 😂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that sounds so awful! 11 days late. And 119 hours?!? Oh, dear. I hope we’re not looking at that. 🙂

      Reply
      • Wifey

        I went into those 119 hours at a 4 too! 85 of those hours I had contractions 8-10 minutes apart followed by 30 hours of active labor and 4.5 hours of pushing. I just pray his future siblings decide to make their entrance faster!

        Reply
    • Natalie

      119 hours of labor?!?! I hope that wasn’t all active labor! 😳😳😳🤪 I thought 30 hours of active labor was bad! (but thank God for epidurals and how they give you the ability to sleep when you haven’t slept in 2 days!!!)

      We’re all rooting for you Rebecca!!! Can’t wait to hear the news! Birth is actually a lot like an orgasm: no one can tell you how your body will react to the experience, how long it’ll take for you, or what your experience will be like. And “you’ll know when you’re having an orgasm / you’ll know when labor starts” is also total bs! Every body and every pregnancy and every birth is different. And yours will be great and exciting and you’ll have a good story and a beautiful baby to hold at the end of it all. 😊🥰👍🏼

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yeah, it’s quite the story in our family how with Katie I went to the hospital twice before actually being in labour. And she was my THIRD. I’d already experienced two labours. And I STILL thought I was in labour when I wasn’t. When I actually was in labour it was hard to convince my husband and my mom!

        Reply
        • Lynn

          My first was a scheduled C section so I never experienced labor with her, and right now I’m up at 5 am with my second, 3 weeks old. I went into labor 4 days late and was actually in the hospital earlier in the day for an appointment regarding an induction. They checked me and said I was 3cn dilated, I find them I was having contractual and they told me “that’s not a contraction, let’s call it a tightening. They’re not registering on our monitors.” so I went home, hung out with my mom for a while and decided to try to nap off my worsening “tightenings”. I woke up a while later and decided to start timing because they were getting more painful, but still manageable. 4.5 minutes apart for the first two, less than 2 by the end of the hour but inconsistent. I expected contractions would feel a lot more painful (I have terrible periods so I guess the bar is very high!) and just very different so I hemmed and hawed about calling the Midwife but I did anyways. Honestly I was expecting to be sent home because I wasn’t in much more pain than when I was there hours earlier with “tightenings”. Good thing I did go though because I showed up on the verge of transition and my baby was born completely naturally, 2 hours later! All that to say, no, you don’t just know when it’s the real deal. My midwives told my I would but the end of pregnancy and pre Labour can be so uncomfortable that it’s hard to tell when pregnancy is transitioning to Labour!

          Hoping for a smooth and quick delivery for Rebecca! Good luck and be patient, baby will be here soon 🙂 it ain’t be long before you can’t remember what life felt like without your new grand baby 🙂

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thanks for the best wishes, Lynn! And, yes, those tightenings can be painful, too. I really couldn’t tell the difference!

  3. nylse

    Well I was 10 days late (2x) and each time my labor was less than an hour. I’m wishing this for you. Happy landing. No epidural. Babies came with speed when they were ready.

    Reply
  4. Ina

    The average first time pregnancy goes to 41 weeks and that certainly was the case for me! And both my births were extremely empowering and deeply bonding peaceful experiences. I pray baby comes soon and smoothly!

    Reply
  5. Steven Jackson

    there is no place to enter my email address to get the link for the spreadsheet?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It’s the box right above the tallest graphic. But I’ll just sign you up and send it to you!

      Reply
  6. LL

    Totally signed up for the spreadsheet. 😉 My oven is currently out of commission so I’ve been all about crockpot dinners lately. This is a great idea to streamline that!! I’m excited about doing a make-ahead day and making dinner even less stressful.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yay! The day itself is exhausting, but it’s worth it!

      Reply
  7. Lea

    I don’t really do freezer meals, but as a single person I like making baked goods and flash freezing them to store, so I can make a few cookies, a scone, biscuits, etc.

    It also helps if you need to bring a batch of cookies to something last minute! Just a thought.

    Reply

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