Yes, Your Slow Cooker Dinner Can Start with the Freezer
Even though cooking raw meat in your slow cooker straight from the freezer is a no-no, that doesn’t mean all ingredients from the freezer are off limits when it comes to this ultra-handy appliance. The slow cooker is always reliable for delivering easy dinners, and when you start with your freezer, you’ll see it can be easier still.
1. Use hearty frozen vegetables for an easy slow cooker stew.
Arm yourself with a few bags of frozen vegetables and some pantry ingredients, and you’ve got the makings for a hearty slow cooker tagine, curry, or stew. Delicate vegetables like green beans, asparagus, and bell peppers will get mushy with an extended cook time, so stick with sturdy, thick-cut options like winter squash, carrots, cauliflower, and pearl onions. When using frozen vegetables, plan to set your slow cooker to low, with a cook time of no more than six hours.
Get a recipe: Freezer-to-Slow-Cooker Vegetable Tagine
2. Make a bone broth for soup from your freezer bone bag.
Know that bag of bones hanging out in the depths of your freezer (you are saving your bones, right?) — perhaps somewhere near that bag of vegetable scraps and Parmesan rinds? It’s time to get it out and pop it into your slow cooker with some filtered water to make a rich, slow-simmered bone broth or stock.
3. Reheat your pre-cooked freezer meals.
While uncooked frozen meat isn’t safe to make in the slow cooker, already cooked meat is a different story and 100 percent fair game. That means everything from pulled pork and saucy BBQ shredded chicken to bolognese and meatballs can be heated in the slow cooker straight from the freezer over the low setting. This hands-off approach won’t take all day, but it will give you a few hours to get other things done without standing at the stove to tackle dinner prep. Plus, the moist environment of the slow cooker helps ensure the meat doesn’t cook up dry.
4. Use freezer kits to make egg casseroles for dinner.
If breakfast for dinner is on regular rotation in your meal plan, it’s time to get familiar with the convenience of slow cooker egg casserole kits. With the exception of the eggs, all the ingredients for the casserole (think: hash browns, ham, veggies, and cheese) are prepped and packed during a meal prep session, then stashed in the freezer. In the morning add those ingredients straight from the freezer to your slow cooker along with the whisked eggs, and you’ve got dinner at the end of the day.