Not everything I freeze is a whole meal, and most of it isn't that double dip of perfection to also go in the crock pot, but here are a few of my basics that I try to keep on hand at all times:
Why on earth anyone pays for chicken broth is beyond me. When I roast a whole chicken, I dump the carcass and a bunch of water in my crockpot, cook it all night, and strain it in the morning. I pour it into one cup containers and freeze it. The frozen chunks go right into a giant Ziploc freezer bag. So many of my recipes call for chicken broth, and this way I know exactly what's in it.
Another way to stay stocked up on broth is to make shredded chicken in the crock pot. My favorite way is to put a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crock with lots of water, an onion, some garlic, a few carrots, a stalk of celery, a dash of salt and pepper, and maybe a bay leaf. Again, strain the broth out and follow the steps above. The chicken will be shreddable (is that a word? it should be!) and moist. Pop it in a freezer bag and pull it out whenever your recipe calls for cooked chicken. I love it in chicken pot pie and a few different chicken casserole dishes.
If you prefer a Mexican flavor, season it instead with a jar of your favorite salsa, a can of black beans, and some frozen corn (skip the water). You won't get broth, but you'll get chicken that's perfect over yellow rice or salad, or wrapped in a tortilla.
Chicken or Beef for Stir Fry and Stew
When chicken or flank steak are on sale, I love to cut them up into thin strips and freeze them with some Teriyaki sauce. It's a super quick dinner to stir fry the meat and a bag of frozen vegetables while the rice cooks.
Ground Beef, Turkey, Chicken or Pork
Ground meat is another great item to buy when it's on sale or in bulk and brown ahead of time. A few scoops from the freezer adds a hearty flavor to spaghetti sauce, soup, or casseroles. Add some taco seasoning for Tex-Mex nights!
A little planning and a well-stocked freezer can save your sanity during those dark, busy days before Christmas (or during the Spring Musical...or State Championships!). Take some time this week to look through your recipes and see which ones might freeze well, even if it's only one component. If you have a good one, please link up and share!