Cooking can be an incredibly fun activity. But more often than not, it’s a means to an end. You’re hungry, and you’d like to eat something—ideally, something that tastes good and isn’t terribly unhealthy. (And, if we’re being honest, something that doesn’t call for a ton of time or effort, either.) Your handy-dandy slow cooker loves to help you out with this endeavor. It does a ton of the work for you, so you can go about your daily life and return to find a fully formed dish. The only issue? It takes hours for your slow cooker to work its magic—and you need a meal, stat. You need the convenience of a slow cooker, the immediacy of a frozen meal, and the delicious taste of a home-cooked dish. Put simply, you need a repertoire of easy, freezer-friendly recipes you can whip up in your slow cooker and reheat for weeks on end.
Thankfully, your slow cooker is great at cooking just about everything—freezer-friendly meals included. Of course, not everything made in your slow cooker will reheat well. Creamy pasta sauces are notorious for turning into chunky, congealed messes when microwaved. And some creamy soups can have similar issues. But there are a number of freezer-friendly, reheat-friendly dishes your slow cooker is adept at cooking—so long as you have the space to store them and an appetite to eat them day after day.
The beauty of this strategy? It really is as easy as it sounds. Yes, you still have to dedicate the bulk of one day to meal prepping. But you don’t have to spend that entire day in your kitchen. By using your slow cooker, you cut your kitchen time down to 20 minutes—10 minutes spent tossing ingredients into your slow cooker, and 10 minutes spent packaging and storing the food once it’s done cooking. Sure, there’s an entire array of hours in between—but those are your hours. And instead of spending them cooking, you can spend them taking a much-needed nap, relaxing in the summer sun, or reading that book that’s been sitting on your shelf forever.
It may seem strange to outsource all your cooking to your slow cooker, your freezer, and your microwave (or oven, or air fryer). But the strategy offers the home-cook’s equivalent of having it all. You get the time-saving convenience of the slow cooker, the reliability of meal prep, and the flavor (not to mention, budget-friendliness) of a home-cooked meal. The result? An array of genuinely easy and delicious dishes you can serve within minutes of realizing you’re hungry. And trust us, there are enough slow-cooker, freezer-friendly recipes out there that this routine won’t feel boring or monotonous any time soon.