How to make slow cooker dump meals
This meal prep hack will make your favourite slow cooked meals easier than ever! Prep your ingredients, dump them into a bag then freeze them so they’re ready to defrost and put right into the slow cooker. The best thing is that for some recipes, the ingredients can stay in the bag, so there's even less washing up.
Follow these simple tips and recipes and start relaxing your way through the dinner hour.
What are dump bags?
Dump bags are ziplock bags full of all the ingredients you need for a slow cooker meal. Ideally the recipes are freezer-friendly, so they can be prepared and frozen up to three months in advance. Dump bags are so called because you can just dump the defrosted bag into your slow cooker and have a meal ready a few hours later.
The dos and don’ts of dump bags
- Use a good quality sealable plastic bag. Choose a large size that will fit all the ingredients flattened out into a thin layer.
- Only use fresh ingredients. Don’t add thawed ingredients, or you’ll end up with a mushy meal.
- Remove as much air as possible from the bag before freezing, as air in the bags will cause freezer burn. If possible, vacuum sealing the bag is even better.
- Add sauces, stocks and liquids. Ingredients covered in liquid will have less chance of exposure to air, and therefore less chance of freezer burn.
- Label with a water-resistant marker. Label clearly with name of dish, date packed, and any other ingredients needed for the recipe that can’t be frozen with the bag.
- Customise your dump bags to suit the size of your family and slow cooker.
- Do all your meal prep and shopping in one day. Then relax for the rest of the week.
- Store your meals as flat as you can inside your freezer. This will not only save space but will also help your bags to freeze and defrost quickly.
- Forget to use your dump bags. For best results, don’t freeze for more than 3 months. Add the prep date and use by date on the freezer bag.
- Don't add veggies with a high water content to your dump bags, like raw potato, zucchini and pumpkin. However, veggies that are supposed to break down into the sauce are fine, such as onions, celery and tomatoes. Some vegetables will fare better after freezing if you blanch them before adding to your dump bag, such as broccoli and cauliflower. Cook in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water to stop the cooking. Alternatively, microwave on high power for 3-5 minutes.
- Don't add dairy products, coconut milk and cream to the bag. These will curdle and split. Instead, note these ingredients on the bag and add them in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Don’t cook from frozen. For food safety, defrost your dump bags in the refrigerator overnight or defrost in a microwave using a microwave safe container. Do not thaw on bench top at room temperature.
- Don’t use fresh herbs. Dried herbs and spices work better as they’ll keep their flavour during freezing and slow cooking.
Dump meal recipes
- Optional: Brown the lamb shanks then refrigerate until cold.
- Add all ingredients except parmesan and pappardelle into a ziplock bag. Place parmesan in a smaller ziplock bag to freeze with main meal.
- Label and seal. Freeze flat.
- Defrost and cook on HIGH (4 hours) or LOW (8 hours), then follow the recipe from step 4 onwards, adding in the defrosted parmesan when required.
- Cut eggplant into large cubes. Place into a microwave-safe container and cook for 3 minutes on high. Remove and cool completely before adding to dump bag.
- Optional: Brown lamb shanks according to recipe method. Remove lamb shanks from the pan and transfer to a plate. Refrigerate until cold.
- Add all ingredients into the bag except for the roti and the toppings.
- Label and seal. Freeze flat.
- Defrost and cook HIGH (4 hours) or LOW (6-8 hours).
- Replace potatoes with 400g of other vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
- Place chicken thighs, Passage to India Punjabi Lemon Simmer Sauce and water into ziplock bag.
- Label and seal. Freeze flat.
- Defrost and cook on HIGH (2-3 hours) or LOW (3-4 hours), following serving instructions.
- Cut ribs into individual portions. Place into a zip lock bag along with onion and Passage to India Vindaloo Simmer Sauce.
- Label, seal and freeze flat.
- Defrost and cook on HIGH (3-4 hours) or LOW (6-8 hours).
- Serve with freshly prepared carrot salad.
- Sear chicken thighs, transfer to a plate and refrigerate until cooled completely.
- Place inside ziplock bag with onion and garlic, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and BBQ sauce.
- Seal, label and freeze.
- Defrost and cook on HIGH (2-3 hours) or LOW (3-4 hours).
- Shred and serve.
More slow-cooked recipes below!
Check out more slow-cooker recipes and try customising your favourites into dump bag meals!
These classic curried sausages could work quite well as a dump meal, but make sure to add the coconut milk after defrosting.
This recipe can easily be turned into a dump bag meal using the steps above.
This recipe is incredibly easy and incredibly flavourful! Try it once and you'll be hooked.
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