Chili X — Freezer Meal Friday

Any rotation of good freezer meals needs to include a fabulous chili recipe. So today I’m sharing Chili X. This isn’t the quickest chili recipe with the shortest ingredient list, but it is the tastiest chili recipe I’ve tried.

One of the staple cookbooks in my home growing up was the Ivory family Favorites cookbook. I have no idea who these Ivory folk are. I have no idea where or why my mom got this cookbook. And, as it turns out, the Favorites Cookbook Facebook page says this gem is out of print. But I know that every recipe in this cookbook that I’ve tried is fantastic. And the Favorites Chili Recipe is no exception.

Ivory Favorites cookbook

In the Ivory cookbook, this chili is listed as Favorite Chili and is found on page 68. But this Chili came by its nickname, Chili X, when I entered it into a chili cookoff back in my college years. Everyone brought their pot of chili, and each one was labeled with a letter of the alphabet instead of with the name of the person who made it (since, you know, people are probably going to vote for the coolest kid in the dorm’s chili or whatever. Haha). Mine happened to get the letter X, which sounded all cool and secret-agent-like. Hence Chili X. And in case you wondered, Chili X won said cook off and I took home the prize of a fancy-schmancy oven mitt. Boo-yah! 😉

Ingredients

good crockpot meals Chili X

1 pound lean ground beef

2 onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans, undrained

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 (16-ounce) cans cans chili beans, undrained

2 packages chili seasoning

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

*The only change I’ve made to the recipe as it stands in the Favorites Cookbook is that I reduce the beef from 2 pounds to 1 pound. If you like a meatier chili, go ahead and use 2 pounds by all means. But I feel like the ratio is actually more to my liking with less beef in there.

Directions

Brown ground beef in large pan.

good crockpot freezer meals

Drain fat and add onions, garlic, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add rest of ingredients, bring to a boil, and then turn to low heat and simmer for at least two hours (or, as I usually, do, just pop it into a crockpot on low for as long as desired. I think it’s letting all the flavors meld together than makes this chili so wonderful).

Chili X step 2

If you’re planning to freeze it: Once it’s done cooking, let it cool to room temperature before putting into bags. I find this yields 12 good adult servings, so I’ll either put this into 12 individual bags or 3 or 4 bigger ones that each contain about as much chili as my family will eat in one sitting.

On the day you plan to serve it, toss it in the fridge the morning of if you have the time and then warm it through on your stovetop. Or, you can warm it straight from frozen on the stovetop or even microwave it at a low power for several minutes, but it’ll take a bit longer and the texture may not be quite as good.

Chili X

Dish up your bowls of hot, steaming chili and enjoy!

On the Side

I usually serve this up with shredded cheese on top and cornbread on the side. I suppose you could make and freeze cornbread ahead, but I simply use the just-add-water Marie Calendar’s cornbread mix. I like that you can make as much or as little as you want by simply measuring out the mix and using a half or a third of the bag plus water and baking it up in a small glass pan instead of an 8×8.

It makes for a pretty carb-heavy meal, but it’s just SUCH a yummy combo. The link below will take you to Amazon, where you could theoretically buy this mix, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Instead check your local Costco or Sam’s (mine used to sell this in a huge, cheap bag but recently replaced it with a brand I don’t care for) or at the very least your regular grocery store.

 

Or, for a change of pace, some months I put my chili into smaller bags and we eat it over baked potatoes. Again, the potatoes aren’t something I freeze, but tossing potatoes in the oven is about as easy and effortless as tossing a pan of something pre-made and frozen in the oven.

Nutritional Data

These numbers come from dividing the total recipe by 12. I find this gives you a hefty, filling, adult-sized bowl (or two good kiddo-sized portions).

Calories: 316 | Fat: 7g | Carbs: 48g | Protein: 21g

Crockpot Curry – Freezer Meal Friday

This is one of my favorite slow cooker freezer meals. It’s super healthy AND super yummy. You might remember my rave review of Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce back on my 20 Best Things at Trader Joe’s post. That super-tasty sauce is the starring ingredient in this delicious meal.

Trader Joe's curry sauce
This isn’t a very spicy dish—my kids, age 2 and 5, eat it happily. But even so, the curry gives it a distinctive taste that makes this a nice change of pace from other chicken freezer meals, which can sometimes get bland and ho-hum. Note as well that I’ve simply used some of my favorite veggies but that there are many other combinations you could try and love.

Ingredients

crockpot freezer meals

4 lbs chicken breast

2 jars Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce (or other curry sauce of your choice)

2–3 large russet potatoes

4 cups baby carrots

1 container frozen green peas

2 cans light coconut milk

*If you’re going purely for taste,  full-fat coconut milk or cream is delicious, but the light also tastes great and slashes the calories and fat by a substantial amount. Also, if you want a spicier curry, go ahead and use just one can of coconut milk with the full two jars of curry sauce. 

 

Directions

  1. First, prep your veggies. Rinse, peel, and chop the potatoes into chunks. Chop the baby carrots into little circles.

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2. Dump the chicken breasts, chopped potatoes, chopped carrots, and frozen peas into your crockpot. (NOTE: this will be a very tight fit, but it does all fit in my standard-size slow cooker. Once everything cooks down a little there will be plenty of room, but at first you may have to really jam everything in.) Pour both bottles of curry sauce over it all and cook on low for 6–8 hours, or until veggies are soft and chicken shreds easily.

slow cooker freezer meals

3. Once cooked to desired tenderness, dump the entire crockpot into a very large bowl. Shred the chicken (you’ll know you’ve cooked it long enough if this is easily done with a fork). Add the two cans of coconut milk and mix well.

slow cooker freezer meals

4. At this point, you can either serve it over hot rice OR let it cool and bag it up for the freezer. This recipe yields 12 generous adult servings (or 24 kid servings, based on how my 2-year-old and 5-year-old eat). You could bag this up individually or divvy it into 3 or 4 or 6 larger bags (depending on how many people you need to feed each night).

crockpot chicken curry
Here it is, all ready to eat! It’s not the prettiest of the freezer meals I make, but it is tasty.

 

On the Side

I always serve this over steamed jasmine rice. You could opt for a more nutrient-dense grain like quinoa, but this is one of the few dishes where I think white rice is far-and-away the yummiest option. Since the overall calories for this dish are pretty low (see nutrition data below) you can serve up a pretty hefty scoop of rice with this curry and still clock in at 500–600 calories a plate, which is what I shoot for at dinnertime.

Nutritional Info

This data comes from divvying up this big batch into 12 individual servings (or for my family, 4 big bags. I then serve up about 1/3 a bag apiece for my husband and I and split the remaining 1/3 between my 5-year-old and 2-year-old). This is just the info for the curry, though. Don’t forget to add in the numbers for any rice, quinoa, or other grains or sides you serve this over if you’re counting calories or macros.

Calories: 342 | Fat: 12g | Carbs: 25g | Protein: 38g

Ta-da! That’s it. This tasty, high-protein slow cooker freezer meal is a keeper. Let me know in the comments if you tried it and liked it!