There are many recipes that call for prepping food, freezing, and putting in...
There are many recipes that call for prepping food, freezing, and putting in a low slow cooker in the morning for dinner that night. Recently. I read that the meat should. be precooked if you plan to do this type of meal preparation. What is acceptable? Would it make a difference if the meat was cubed or thinly sliced instead of a whole breast of chicken or a block of ground beef? This type of meal preparation works well for us. I prepare a number of meals that allow any of the men to “cook”.
Clark County Ohio
Thank you for your inquiry.
Although recipes may call for this type of preparation, it is not a safe method. The USDA's Food Safety Information Service states that meat and poultry should always be thawed prior to placing it in a slow cooker. Their Slow Cooker fact sheet can be found at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Slow_Cookers_and_Food_Safety.pdf.
There is sound reason for this advice. If frozen meat or poultry is placed in the slow cooker, regardless of its form (sliced, cubed, etc), the time required for the meat to thaw and adequately cook is too long and allows for growth of pathogens. This is especially true for a homemade meal that is prepped in advance (meat, vegetables, etc all put together), and then frozen together.
Although ideally everything placed in the slow cooker is thawed, if you wish to combine ingredients in advance and freeze the dish, a safer method would be to prep the non-meat portions of the meal. Thaw the meat portion in a refrigerator or microwave prior to placing everything in the slow cooker.
There are a few commercially prepared frozen slow cooker meal options. When using these products, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information.