Posts

Top 3 Dump and Go Crock Pot Meals (+ Shopping List)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

We’ve rounded up 3 amazing dump and go crock pot meals. Bonus: You can make them ahead and freeze for later, too. Freezing instructions and shopping list included!

dump and go crock pot freezer meals

This post was created in partnership with Hy-Vee (Columbia).

Dump and Go Crock Pot Meals: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Let’s start with the bad and ugly. After researching, testing, and writing a cookbook all about slow cooker meals, one of the big takeaways for us was that most “dump and go” crockpot meals just aren’t very good. Most delicious slow cooker meals require a few extra steps to get the texture and flavor just right.

But…but, but, but…there are a few exceptions to this rule. We’ve pulled together three of our very best drop and go crock pot meals: Honey Bourbon Chicken, French Dip Sandwiches, and Vegetarian Tortilla Soup.

dump and go crock pot freezer meals

No extra–or very few extra–steps are required of these dishes. You’ll simply throw all your ingredients in the slow cooker for a hands-free dinner OR in a freezer bag for later. The combo of ingredients only get tastier as they slow cook!

Double and Freeze All 3 Recipes

A smart way to use your time efficiently is to double each of the recipes below and freeze them for later. Polly and I both do this regularly and call it the “freezer cooking lifestyle.” Believe us when we say, your future self will thank you!

6 dump and go crock pot freezer meals

Simply, set aside about an hour to make 2 batches of all 3 recipes. After doubling all these recipes, you’ll stock your freezer with 6 meals! You’ll have dinner ready to go for weeks.

To make it super easy for you, we’ve made you a shopping list with enough ingredients to double each of the 3 recipes.

shopping list for dump and go crock pot meals

Ultimate Time Saver: Use Aisles Online!

We recommend doing your shopping at Hy-Vee where ingredients are well stocked, it’s easy to keep kids entertained, and the store is clean and well staffed.

If you’re an online shopper, just hop to Aisles Online and fill up your cart with the ingredient list. It’s even easier to shop for sales this way in my opinion!

Their website is incredibly easy to navigate and their pick-up process is flawless…

Or, you can even have your groceries delivered…

I can think of no easier way to make this cooking session happen than having someone drop the groceries right to your doorstep.

You can do this!

Download and Print the Shopping List

As a reminder, this list is for the go-getters who want to double all three of these recipes. If you only want to make one or two, simply print off the recipe card(s) below.

Top 3 Dump and Go Crock Pot Meals

Alright, you know where to shop for the ingredients (Hy-Vee), you know the easiest way to get them to your home (Aisles Online), and you’ve heard our plea to double the recipes to save yourself time in the long run. Now it’s time to get cooking!

Every recipe that we link to below has instructions for how to freeze it ahead and how to prepare it from frozen.

1. Honey Bourbon Chicken

A little sweet and a little spicy, this easy chicken recipe is BIG on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker. Stir fry some veggies while it cooks and then serve it all over rice. A reader favorite!

honey bourbon chicken freezer meal

MAKE IT AHEAD: Add the sauce ingredients and chicken to a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal, toss to combine, and freeze.

TO PREPARE: Thaw and place the meal in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Shred or chop and serve over rice and stir-fried veggies.

A similar recipe to this one is our Teriyaki Chicken Thighs. You might like that one as well!

Print
gluten-free Honey Bourbon Chicken and Stir Fry Vegetables on a large white platter

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Total Time: 3 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Asian

Description

A little sweet and a little spicy, this chicken dish is big on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the slow cooker.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (For Gluten-Free: use coconut aminos or GF tamari soy sauce.)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup organic or all-natural ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey (For Gluten-Free: Omit or use chicken stock/broth instead.)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (decrease to 1/8 teaspoon, if sensitive to heat)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/22 pounds boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Cooked basmati rice or brown rice, for serving
  • Stir-fried vegetables, for serving

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, bourbon, oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the sauce. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Carefully transfer the chicken to a wooden cutting board, dice or shred the meat, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Carefully pour the juices from the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Add in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Return the chicken and sauce to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and serve with stir-fried vegetables, if desired.

Freeze For Later:  Follow step 1. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen:  Note: Have cooked rice, cornstarch, and (optional) stir-fried veggies on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Follow steps 2 through 4.


Notes

One of our readers tested this recipe without the bourbon and reported that their family thought it was still delicious. 

2. French Dip Sandwiches

My kids cheer when they see this drop-and-go crock pot meal on the menu plan. It slow cooks all day long and is fall-apart tender by dinnertime. Simply shred the meat, put together the sandwiches (a quick broil toasts up the rolls and melts the cheese), and dip them in the leftover au jus. Or…turn them into grilled cheese sandwiches to take them over the top!

french dip sandwich freezer meal

MAKE IT AHEAD: Pour the sauce ingredients into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Season the roast lightly with salt and black pepper and add to the bag/container with the sauce. Seal and freeze. Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the roast.

TO PREPARE: Thaw. Place meat/sauce in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Shred the meat and serve on toasted buns with Provolone (or turn them into grilled cheese sandwiches). 

A similar recipe to this one is our Balsamic Shredded Beef. It’s a reader favorite!

Print

Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Slow Cooker
  • Method: Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 34 lbs boneless beef chuck roast (1 large roast or 2 smaller ones), trimmed of excess fat
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 16 large slices of sourdough bread
  • 16 slices provolone, cheddar, or pepper Jack cheese

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, minced onion, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the roast in the cooker and season lightly with salt and black pepper on all sides. Pour the sauce over the top.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours, until the meat easily shreds. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return the meat to the cooker and stir it into the sauce.
  4. Spread a thin layer of butter over one side of each slice of bread. Place a slice of cheese on the unbuttered side of half the slices of bread. Using a slotted spoon, add a layer of the shredded meat (be sure to drain the liquid first). Top with another slice of cheese and a second slice of bread, buttered-side up.
  5. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook the sandwiches for a few minutes on each side, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve the sandwiches warm, with the warmed juices from the cooker in small bowls alongside for dipping.

FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow step 1. Pour the sauce into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Season the roast lightly with salt and black pepper and add to the bag/container with the sauce. Seal and freeze. Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the roast.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Place in the slow cooker. Follow steps 3 through 6.


Notes

Instant Pot Instructions: FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the sauce and the meat in a gallon-size freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen). Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the meat.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter on hand to complete this meal. Thaw the bread and cheese. Set the Instant Pot to “Saute” Transfer the frozen meat to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow steps 4 through 6. (The frozen meat will cook in the same amount of time as fresh.)

3. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This pantry staple Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe is a meatless “one pot wonder” that I’ve been making and freezing for years for my family. Filled with beans, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and more, it only gets better the longer it sits in the fridge (or freezer).

vegetarian tortilla soup freezer meal and finished dish

MAKE IT AHEAD: Place all the ingredients except the rice in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

TO PREPARE: Thaw and place the soup in the slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Print

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This one-pot wonder is packed with flavor but is also vegetarian! This winning combination of ingredients and flavors is sure to impress your family and friends.


Ingredients

  • 1 (32 ounce) box vegetable stock (Sub: chicken stock or broth)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can vegetarian refried beans* (Sub: drained pinto beans that have been smashed with a fork)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (Sub: kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained (Sub: 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (juice and all) (Tip: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are delicious!)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles (Sub: 1/2 cup salsa)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural taco seasoning mix
  • 12 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked quinoa)
  • Optional Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, diced avocado

Instructions

Make It Now:

Stovetop Method: In a large pot, combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Bring to a boil and quickly reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while it cooks. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Uncooked): Combine all ingredients in a pot/bowl, except rice and optional toppings. (Don’t worry if the refried beans aren’t completely integrated.) Carefully ladle the soup into gallon-sized freezer bags or containers and seal. Package the cooked rice in a small freezer bag and freeze alongside the soup.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook the soup according to instructions. Stir in the rice. Let cool. Freeze in freezer bags or containers, as individual servings or one full meal. Freeze until ready to use.

Prepare From Frozen: 

Method 1 (Uncooked): Fully thaw the soup. Cook according to instructions.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked):

Stove or Slow Cooker: Warm over low heat on the stove or in the slow cooker.

Instant Pot: Turn on Saute button and warm over low, stirring frequently.*


Notes

*If you want to cook the soup from frozen in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to freeze it in a round container that is smaller than the diameter of the pot. When ready to cook, turn on the “Saute” function and saute the frozen block of soup for 5-10 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel”. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 12-17 minutes with a quick release.

Gluten-Free: If using a taco seasoning packet from the store, be sure to buy one that is gluten-free.

Dairy-Free: Omit using any cheese or sour cream on top.

For more make ahead freezer meal ideas, check out our Top 3 Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas (with shopping list)!

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken {Freezer Meal}

By Polly Conner

This easy dump and go freezer meal will become a regular family dinner in your home. This freezer friendly dinner is so versatile too. Eat it straight from the slow cooker, put it in wraps, or turn it into nachos. Choose your own Cilantro Lime Chicken adventure! Great healthy dinner idea to make in bulk or at freezer cooking parties. 

Slow cooker cilantro lime chicken

I’ve has my fair share of slow cooker freezer meal recipes. I can understand why so many people want these types of recipes. I mean who doesn’t want a meal that you can assemble quickly and be thrown in a slow cooker?!

While I am all about a great dump and go freezer meal, finding a GOOD one can be hard. Most real food recipes that go into the slow cooker need a little help up front or a little help at the end. Otherwise you’re relying on artificial ingredients to bring the flavors you want.

However, I am proud to present to you a meal that actually works well as a dump and go slow cooker freezer meal: Cilantro Lime Chicken!

Close up of cilantro lime chicken in a wrap

Now here’s the key to a great slow cooker meal with chicken: DO NOT OVERCOOK THE CHICKEN. Believe it or not, boneless skinless chicken breast is done in the slow cooker in about 3 hours. Seriously! As we’ve been writing our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have tested hundreds of recipes. Chicken is done (reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees) between 2.5-3.5 hours, depending on your slow cooker.

Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read our full disclosure policy here.

If you go much further past that, chicken will start to dry out. Let as simple meat thermometer like this one be your guide!

Once you’ve cooked your Cilantro Lime Chicken, (You did double it and make it a freezer meal, right?!) you can now choose how you want to devour it.

One option (my personal favorite) is to put it in wraps and top with your favorite Mexican toppings.

Slow cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

Another option (my kids’ personal favorite) is to shred that meat up, put it over nachos.

This was inspired by our Baked Nachos recipe. We simply spread out chips on a cookie sheet, spread out our leftovers over the chips, and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese. After baking it in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes, we scarfed down our baked nachos.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Nachos

Print

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

Cilantro lime chicken recipe. So easy to make! Dump ingredients into a slow cooker and come back hours later for a delicious, family friendly healthy dinner.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn (or once can of corn, drained)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I only used 1/2 can because I’m not crazy about beans)
  • Whole wheat tortillas or tortilla chips, for serving
  • Your favorite Mexican toppings, for serving (i.e. cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and chopped tomatoes).

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and the cumin on both sides. Then, place all ingredients into the slow cooker and stir until mixed together.
  2. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks and stir back into the slow cooker. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to your preference.
  3. Serve chicken with tortillas and toppings, such as with cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce. Or, spread chicken out over tortilla chips, top with cheese, and bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes (until cheese is melted).

Freeze For Later: Place all the ingredients in a gallon-sized freezer bag. (You will NOT slow cook this meal ahead of time.) Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these three safe ways. Follow Steps 2-3.

Want more slow cooke freezer meal ideas? Here are 101 Real Food Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

101 Real Food Slow Cooker Freezer Meals - Your life just got easier and healthier with this list of the best whole foods freezer meals for the slow cooker. Enjoy these real food crockpot recipes today or freeze for later.

From Freezer to Table: Killer Carnitas

By Polly Conner

These slow cooker carnitas are one of my all-time favorite freezer meals. As one of my go-to recipes for large groups, our Killer Carnitas are a no-fail dump and go freezer meal.

From Freezer to Table: Killer Carnitas

“Woman, what have you done?!” This was my husband’s affectionate way of telling me he was a big fan of this recipe. After cooking it for 8 hours in the slow cooker, you’ll be left with fall-apart, flavorful chunks of juicy pork that you can then broil for a few minutes in order to give some extra texture. Wrap up the meat in a soft tortilla and top it with cheese, avocados, diced red onions, lime juice, cilantro, or whatever Mexican toppings you prefer, and you’ll be going loco over these carnitas.

This recipe can be found in our cookbook, From Freezer to Table.

cookbook

Here’s a one minute peek into this amazing resource.

Don’t own the cookbook? A similar recipe on Thriving Home is our Pulled Pork with a Mexican Flare.