How to Prep A Week’s Worth of Work-less Meals!

Do you like to save money? I’m sure you do. Do you have time to cook? Likely not. Do I have the post for you? Definitely!

I have been a huge fan of the crock pot since college. Now that I am older it is more useful!  There is nothing better than getting home and knowing that your one-year-old who wants to eat NOW will not have to wait long before chowing down. As much as I like to hear my stomach growling while I stand over the stove (not), there is something satisfying about knowing that I can get home, eat/feed my kiddo, and still have time to play with her before bed.

Are mornings a great time for me to think through what to throw in the crock pot? Uhhhh, no. That would involve me getting up five minutes sooner, and that is not likely to happen. You know when is a good time for me? A weekend, preferably one when I have little else to do. This is why my new favorite thing, crock pot freezer meals, are a perfect match for me and what I want to share with you!

After a few nights of combing Pinterest, talking with friends, and thinking through how to save myself time, I decided I finally needed to jump on the crock pot freezer meal bandwagon.  A few acquaintances swear by them, and it didn’t take me much convincing.

Here’s how it works…

1.)  The first step is to decide on recipes. I choose recipes that look appealing, easy, and cheap in terms of price per serving. I plan on all being large enough to provide leftovers for a few meals (another love of mine).

2.) Purchase the ingredients/dig them out of my freezer and pantry. I actually made doubles of a few recipes, and nine meals that would easily feed 4-5 people (so, leftovers for us!) cost me around $70.

3.) Prep the ingredients.  After prepping my gallon freezer bags by writing the recipe name and cooking time/temperature, it was time to begin chopping, dicing, mincing, and opening.  I lined up the bags on the counter and began by placing the meat in each bag. I then dumped in all veggies, spices, fruit (in the case of Hawaiian Chicken), and sauces/liquids. Once I sealed each bag I made sure to place them all flat in the deep freeze.

That’s it! I was finished! I can be a slow chopper at times, hate cutting onions, and washed my hands a bit obsessively. Even so, the whole process took me a bit over an hour.


(Note: I already placed some of the bags in the freezer before I thought to take a picture!!)

I was so pleased with the first batch of recipes that I have repeated this process once already. What I have found to be the handiest thing about having all of these recipes ready is that it is SO easy for my husband to help! He isn’t a horrible cook, but it is much easier for him to open up the freezer and dump out of the contents of a bag when I am gone/busy and he is in charge of the meal. I also know that it has saved us money/calories compared to eating out!

You may wonder which recipe is our favorite? I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed them all.  One of our favorites is the Cilantro Lime Chicken. Here is the recipe for the cilantro lime goodness.

Cilantro Lime Chicken
1 1/2 -2 pounds chicken breasts
Juice from 2 limes or 1/4 cup bottled
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
2 minced garlic cloves or 1 Tbsp canned minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp cumin
 1 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
Place all ingredients in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Freeze. To prepare, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Great with guacamole, sour cream, and cheese!
*Here’s a recipe for another one of our favorite prep-ahead crock pot meals: Hawaiian Chicken.

I love to hear about new recipes. While I am hooked on making freezer meals, I know that I have a tendency to get in the habit of making the same things. What are your favorites??

Lana Criswell is a born and bred Hawkeye fan who has lived in Iowa City for almost ten years! She came for college and never looked back. Lana has been married to her husband, Tom, for two years and is momma to Jessa (3.5 months) and Charlie, the dog. She finished graduate school nearly four years ago in speech-language pathology and works at Children’s Center for Therapy in Iowa City. She is excited to be able to work 80% time now and have some “girl time” with Jessa each week. Lana loves spending time with family and friends, cooking/baking, going to Hawkeye games, going on walks around the neighborhood with the dog, and reading.


  1. I’m trying the Hawaiian Chicken tonight so I’ll let you know how it is. I didn’t add the sugar I just used up the rest of the pineapple juice as I thought that may be sweet enough. Also I thought teriyaki might be a good addition next time. Thanks for sharing!


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