Prior to starting my January Whole30, I spent a day doing some food prep to stock my fridge and freezer with Whole30 meals to help the month go smoothly.
One of the things I did was prepare some crock pot-ready freezer meals. In about 1 hour, I had prepared 6 bags to freeze that could be taken out of the freezer later and popped into the crock pot to cook.
I made 3 bags of beef stew and 3 bags of African chicken stew.
You can do this with any recipe that you’d normally cook in the crock pot. Just prepare all the ingredients and add them to a freezer bag instead of the crock! After you freeze the bag, make sure to pull it out of the freezer the day before you want to cook it to allow it to thaw. Dump the bag into the crock pot and BOOM…dinner is made.
My beef stew was made with beef, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, a can of diced tomatoes, and a mix of spices with garlic, parsley, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Sorry, I’m too much of a freestyler when it comes to things like stews to be able to have a specific recipe!
The African chicken stew was adapted from the recipe in Well Fed 2. Here’s another blogger’s adaptation that you could use to guide you in making this delicious dish if you don’t have Well Fed 2 (I left out the vanilla for the Whole30). Just add your raw chicken thighs and onion to the bag. Mix the crushed tomatoes with all the spices and the sunflower butter and add that in too. For my bags of this stew I also added cubed sweet potatoes, which I highly recommend.
To make the freezer bag prep lightening fast, put all your bags together assembly line style. Get all the bags out and add the meat to each one. Keep the open bags lined up and handy on the counter. Then chop all the onions at once, adding them to the bags as you go. Do the same for the sweet potatoes or other common ingredients. If you’ve got a willing helper, they can do the tasks such as adding the meat to the bags, measuring spices or opening cans while you chop!
A quick and simple way to build up a little “freezer pantry” of bags like this would be to just double up the next time you’re prepping something for the crock pot. You would make your one batch for the crock pot that day as usual, but as you’re prepping everything, you’d also be making one batch in a bag to freeze for later.
Having these pre-made bags really helped the Whole30 go smoothly. It was nice to have them handy to pull out each week for a nearly effortless meal! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes for this…the crock pot is amazingly forgiving!