Why I Love My Slow Cooker (Plus Recipes To Get You Started With Yours)
I've been on a personal journey to learn how to be healthy and cook for over ten years now, and it's been a long and arduous process. I used to watch The Food Network and get inspired to get off the couch and try a recipe, but the end result was usually something even my dog wouldn't eat. Then about six years ago, I bought a slow cooker and it changed my life.
When my daughter was born, I needed to save even more time and needed an efficient way to make lots of slow cooker meals at the same time. So I combined my old love of slow cooking and my new love of freezer cooking into something that was incredibly time saving, manageable and most importantly, healthy.
In about two hours, I chop all my meat and vegetables, and put them in a ziploc freezer bag. Then I add my spice combinations and mix it up a bit. I get all the air out of the bag and lay it flat like a brick, so it takes up less space in my freezer.
In the morning, if I want a homecooked, healthy meal later that evening, I take a bag out of my freezer and dump it into my slow cooker, totally frozen. By dinner time, a healthy and nourishing meal awaits me and my family.
This way of cooking solved my problem of scrambling to figure out a plan for dinner. It freed up time so that I can enjoy my afternoon and early evening with my family, so instead of muttering to myself in the kitchen, with resentment coming out of my ears, I am chilling with my family, most likely with a glass of red wine in hand and giving myself a little pat on the back, because the made-from-scratch meal I'm about to put on the table took hardly any effort at all.
Here are some of my favorite slow cooker freezer recipes, and you can find many more in my cookbook, From Your Freezer To Your Family.
Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken
- 3 medium unpeeled sweet potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 2 large green peppers cut into strips or cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1 large red pepper cut into strips or cubes (about 1 cup)
- 2 zucchini chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca (or flour, or some other thickening agent)
- 2 pounds chicken thighs or drumsticks
- 2 15oz cans of tomato sauce
- 4 tablespoons rapadura sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoon ground yellow mustard
- 2 clove garlic finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Divide everything into two separate one gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. On the day of cooking, dump it into your slow cooker and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or low 6 to 8 hours, depending on your specific slow cooker.
Orange Beef Stew
- 3 to 4 pounds of chuck roast (or any other kind of roast)
- 2 cups of beef broth (I use homemade stock)
- 2 cups of orange juice (fresh juice is best, organic paturized juice is fine too)
- 1 tablespoon of rapadura sugar
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of arrow root powder/flour
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (fresh is best, but not having to cut up garlic is so nice!)
- 1 bunch of scallions
- 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes. (I scrub them good, but leave the skins on)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Label 1 one-gallon freezer bag. Chop sweet potatoes and scallions, then add to freezer bag. Add in sugar, arrow root flour, soy sauce, garlic and orange juice. Mix up well and then lay bag flat and place in freezer.
Day of cooking: add contents of freezer bag, roast, 2 cups of beef broth, salt and pepper to slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve with fresh salad and homemade sourdough bread, if you have it.