Last week, I tried to make a lasagna for dinner with no-bake lasagna noodles. In the time it took me to layer the sauce, cheese filling, and noodles, all hell broke loose. My baby cried. My 3-year-old ate two cookies. My crying baby stopped crying long enough to stuff a cookie in her mouth. What was my 5-year-old doing? Who knows!
“This is why I don’t cook!” I screamed out loud (or at least in my head).
I love to cook, but truth is that I’ve done very little of it since my third daughter was born last year. I’ve settled into a routine of prepping simple meals on the weekend and freezing them for the week ahead.
My freezer cooking system works like this: I chop the vegetables and add them to a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag with sauces, spices, and meat. Freezer meals last up to three months in a standard freezer, so if I assemble 5-7 per week my freezer stays stocked and I don’t have to cook at all!
If you’re brand-new to the concept of “no cook” freezer cooking, here’s why you’ll love it:
- Since the meals are frozen without any cooking ahead of time, they’re very easy to prep. (It only takes me 40-50 minutes to assemble six freezer meals – including clean-up!)
- Your homemade freezer meals will cook for the first time out of the freezer and won’t taste like leftovers at all. Wahoo!
- You can take advantage of sales and bulk purchases and stock your freezer.
- You’ll have healthy, homemade meals ready for busy weeknights.
To get you started today, here’s a recipe for freezer crockpot beef stew that I adapted from Kristin’s recipe. It’s so delicious that I’ve already made it several times for my family and friends. You won’t believe how easy it is to prepare this healthy meal.
Ditch the no-bake lasagna noodles and make this freezer crockpot beef stew for your family instead!
Freezer Crockpot Beef Stew
- 2 lb beef chuck roast grass-fed, fat-trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup pearled barley
- 7 cups beef broth *not needed until day-of cooking
- 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag I find Hefty freezer bags work great
- Label your freezer bag with the name of the recipe, cooking instructions, and "use-by" date.
- Combine all ingredients (except beef broth) in a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag, adding the beef to the bag last so it's the first ingredient poured into the crockpot.
- Remove as much air as possible, seal, and freeze for up to three months.
- When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water.
- Add to crockpot with beef broth and cook on "low" setting for 8 hours or until carrots are soft.
- Remove the bay leaf and enjoy!
A note from Kristin: I highly recommend stopping by Kelly’s blog where you’ll find many more freezer meals, plus her freezer cookbook.
Unfortunately, this recipe was a bit bland and too soupy. I added 1/4 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water, a small can of tomato paste, some granulated garlic, a splash of balsamic, and 1.5 cups of thawed, frozen peas. These changes improved the recipe somewhat, so I’m sharing here in case other people are a bit disappointed. I think if this recipe had been called, “beef barley soup” I would have been a bit happier with the results! Thanks!
Thanks for sharing, Leslie.
I’m looking forward to making this recipe- I’m curious where to purchase labels like you have on your freezer bags? I’m finding the little space on my Ziploc bags just aren’t big enough, and I’d like to provide enough explanation so my husband/roommates can cook them without me!
https://thefamilyfreezer.com used to sell the labels. They may still be available.
This recipe is very bland, and it is a soup not a stew. Very liquidy!
Hi Sara, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the recipe. Hope you find one you like.
Could you make this with ground beef instead? If so, should you brown it first or put in bag raw?
No, you could make a hamburger soup but it’s not going to the same as a beef stew.
Can you freeze the broth with the other ingredients so it does not need to be added the day of?
Hey Cari, If you cook it, yes. But I wouldn’t do that with the raw meat and veggies.
For those of you saying this recipe is a little bland….I make a similar one and I usually add a little boullion to my broth to get it to my taste. Sometimes store bought broth is bland. I also add some parsley to mine. Remember, recipes are made to be changed. We all have a different palate. 😉
Yes, i apologize about the setting, i saw that after the fact and wanted to amend the review. Made this a few weeks ago so was trying to remember the details. My husband did correct me, he said we had slow cooker on at least 8 hours. But honestly it was much more watery than a soup. Flavor not appetizing. I know others had success with it. Not sure why we did not.
Did not like this recipe at all. There is no indication whether to put slow cooker on low or high, so put it on low for about 7 hrs. The liquid was watery, not like a soup. Followed all the measurements, not sure what i missed. Was not appetizing at all, threw it out. Wanted to like it…
Hey Lynn, I’m sorry you didn’t like and it wasn’t for you. The recipe instructions are clear about the temp and setting: #5. “Add to crockpot with beef broth and cook on “low” setting for 8 hours or until carrots are soft.” This stew is created to be more soupy than a thick stew.
I know therecipe states that the broth is supposed to be separate, not frozen with everything else. But really, CAN we add the liquid and freeze it with the rest?
Best tasting stew I’ve had!! Full of flavor!! Is it possible to do this is the instant pot?
Yay, Heather! I’m so glad you loved it. Here’s my IP beef stew recipe: https://livesimply.me/2018/10/31/instant-pot-beef-stew-vegetables/
Not trying to be negative, but I just wanted to share that I felt this also was a bit bland. I am reading other recipes online now trying to salvage the stew. I am going to add tomato paste and worchestershire sauce in hopes of adding some better flavor. It was so nice this morning to plop the thawed bag into the crock pot, but now I regret not browning my meat and then my veggies. I think that adds a lot of needed flavor. I was hopeful to start freezing more meals, but I think I will freeze cooked meals instead and reheat to ensure I get better overall flavor. I just wanted to comment so if others are also interested, that they might be able to tweak this to their liking.
Hey Faith, Not at all :). I truly appreciate the feedback on the recipe. I’ve found that not searing meat and veggies before adding them to the crock-pot can result in less flavor (that step does build some of the flavor in slow cooked meals). I think you have a good plan!
How many does this serve? I am looking for a few recipes that make two servings. Thank you
Hey Jessica, This will make about 4-6 servings.