It’s really easy to freeze slow cooker meals whether you’re batch cooking for a family or simply freezing 1-3 spare portions for a single person household. It’s good to have something in the freezer you can grab, but don’t fill the freezer with lots of the same item or you’ll never fancy eating it.
What I’ll typically do is use my 3.5 litre slow cooker to make up a “dump meal” where I throw items into the slow cooker without any prep – then I’ll usually eat 2-3 of those portions in the next few days. But then there’s often just one portion, maybe two, leftover that I will freeze.
I’ll admit I don’t do a lot of freezing because everything you freeze does have to be eaten and I’ve no desire to end up with a freezer stuffed full of food while I’m still creating new dishes, so the freezer in my house is used as a temporary holding spot if I buy in too much food, or have 1-2 leftover portions.
I don’t generally cook up a batch of slow cooker meals just for the freezer, I’ll use the slow cooker to make a nice meal, that I intend to eat 2-3 portions of in the next few days, but if I don’t get round to eating it all, then I’ll just freeze the remaining 1-2 portions. My freezer’s quite small, so I don’t want to clutter it up with things I can easily make myself, fresh, in the coming weeks.
I keep it simple and generally use a roll of freezer bags and some plastic food clips – I’ve also saved quite a lot of old butter tubs and other plastic pots to use as “templates” for shape. I find that if you fill a freezer bag with a wet mix of, say, a curry, savoury mince, or soup, then it’ll take on a shape that’s not the most efficient shape for the freezer space, so I will line a tub with a freezer bag, pour out a portion into the bag, then use a food clip to seal the bag. All you do then is place the tub containing the bag in the freezer. It’s better to freeze in portion sizes, so you don’t have to defrost the whole lot when you want to use them!
So, to itemise that:
- Cool down your slow cooker meals, I tend to serve myself a meal and pour the rest into lidded noodle bowls to store in the fridge and use in the next 2-3 days.
- Pour (in portions) into a freezer bag, with or without a shape guide of a freezer-safe pot
- Clip or tie the top so the contents can’t spill out
- Put in the freezer. It’ll be frozen in 2-4 hours.
Whatever I’ve frozen has usually frozen within 2-4 hours – and I might just leave the bag inside the tub for now. If I am short of freezer space, then I’ll just remove the freezer bag from the tub and it’s a nice space-efficient shape!
Frozen food’s fine in the freezer for many months, say up to a year in most cases, but what does happen over time is that you simply “don’t fancy it” any more as it’s been lurking in the freezer for so long, possibly accumulating some ice crystals and it’s easy to just keep putting off eating it I try to eat everything I freeze within 1-3 months, so my freezer space isn’t wasted with things I’m not going to eat.
Slow Cooker Meals You Can Freeze:
Most slow cooker meals can simply be frozen in this way, I’ll use this method successfully for all my curries, savoury mince meals, chilli con carne and vegetable stews. Freezing isn’t a special skill – if you’ve made something in the slow cooker that involves meat and/or vegetables, then simply cool it, pour it into bags (in portions is best), then seal the bag and put it in the freezer! Soup made in a slow cooker will also freeze this easily. I’ll use my microwave soup mugs as a template for this, they’re freezer-safe and I’m freezing my soup in the same dish I’ll be microwaving it in later.
Defrosting Slow Cooker Meals:
If you take it out of the freezer the night before you want to cook it and put it in the fridge, it should defrost in time. You can, instead, simply cook from frozen in a microwave – just empty the slow cooker meal into a microwave-proof dish, cover it and microwave it on defrost, or a low/low-medium setting for about 5-10 minutes (depending on how much you’re defrosting), giving it a stir every couple of minutes.
Once defrosted you can then cook as you’d usually cook it, so, a frozen chilli con carne, once defrosted, would need just 3-4 minutes on high in a microwave, or 5-10 minutes reheating on a medium-high hob setting if you’re reheating it in a saucepan.
Meal Ideas for Slow Cooker Food:
If you’ve made a savoury mince meal in your slow cooker, then when it comes to reheating, you can add a topping of your choice, below are some meal ideas:
- Top your savoury mince with some dumplings or cobbler scones and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes
- Top a simple mince and vegetables meal with some mashed potato and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top’s nicely browned, to make an easy cottage pie or shepherd’s pie. Add grated cheese and some breadcrumbs (for crunch) and you’ve got yourself a Cumberland pie.
- Use a meaty filling to make pasties by enclosing a scoop of cooked filling into some ready-roll pastry, bake for 20 minutes until the pastry’s cooked and browned. This works for savoury mince, or even a firm vegetable stew or a slow cooker curry.