Ready for your new favourite time saving dinner shortcut? Meet these Slow Cooker Dump Bags.
These are recipes that can be prepped in minutes and then frozen, uncooked, until you need them.
You know I am a HUGE fan of slow cooker recipes that can be just popped straight into the slow cooker with NO browning first, but what if we prepped these in advance too for convenience that’s on another level?
Yes it’s possible! Here are some of my favourite recipes – made into… DUMP BAGS!
What is a ‘dump bag’?
I know, I know. The name is not my favourite word 😬 BUT it does describe what these do on the tin.
A dump bag is where you prepare all (or most) of the ingredients for a slow cooker meal, then:
- Put it into a freezer container.
- Label and freeze until you want to cook it.
- Defrost thoroughly, dump in the slow cooker (get it?) and cook according to the usual instructions.
That’s it. Dinner is done!
What’s the benefit of meal prepping like this?
⭐️ Use days when you do have a tiny bit of spare time to help you on days that you don’t.
⭐️ Helps with bulk-buying ingredients (meat, for example, is often cheaper in bulk).
⭐️ Doubling up your prep means double dinners, in less than double the time. (I usually make at least x2 of each recipe.)
Do you have to defrost the food before cooking it in the slow cooker?
The short answer is yes. It is always recommended for dishes containing meat.
There’s a really useful article of tips here in the Guardian: Defrost and Dump.
- Allow the bags to defrost totally before adding to the slow cooker.
- Be sure to defrost them in the fridge. This will be slower but is the food safety recommendation.
- The time they take to defrost will depend a lot on the shape of the container you are using to freeze. If you can freeze in thin bags (see my notes re: bags further down) they will defrost much quicker.
- As a rule, my reusable bags take over 24 hours to defrost in the fridge. So if I want it for dinner on Tuesday night, I’d need to take it out of the freezer on Sunday night to be sure, and then cook it in the slow cooker on Tuesday morning. So about 36 hours.
Again, these timings will depend highly on what shape of container you use. Flatter bags will defrost MUCH quicker.
Which bags or containers are the best to use?
OK, I’m going to share the re-usable bags I’ve used recently because so many people asked BUT… I do NOT love them.
Out of 8, one split on me after a couple of weeks and also as they are SO wide they take a very long time to defrost and are tricky to fit into the freezer.
Without doubt, for convenience, single-use plastic bags are the best option. You can lay them flat in the freezer and they freeze in a thin shape so they defrost quickly. But who wants to be buying single-use plastic these days?
Honestly, I don’t have an answer right now, so I’m sharing the options below so you can decide for yourself:
UPDATE (20 Feb 2023)
I’ve been using the single use plastic bags linked below and recycling them a few times, washing them out, and they are still going strong! Would recommend.
➡️ Bag Holder (SO useful for easy, mess free filling!)
This is the bag holder that you may have seen me using in recent videos. I LOVE this. It’s so so helpful if you’re planning on making Dump Bags, or freezing cooked leftovers in bags.
Again, please read my disclaimer above for these, but until I find a better alternative, I will keep using them.
➡️ Premium Quality Freezer Labels
These labels are 100% the best I have found. They are the only ones I’ve used that don’t fall off in the freezer. Just make sure that the bag is totally dry before you stick them on.
➡️ Premium 4.55l Plastic Bags Heavy Duty
If I hadn’t invested in the sturdy bags above, these are the bags I would be buying and then laying flat in the freezer.
They say they are reusable too. So perhaps they are an alternative and not quite single use? Please let me know if anyone tests them!
UPDATE (20 Feb 2023)
I have tried these recently and am a fan! They can be squashed very flat so:
- They lay neatly in the freezer
- They freeze quickly
- Most importantly, they defrost quickly
➡️ Morphy Richards Sear and Stew 3.5l Slow Cooker
This is the slow cooker I always use and I cannot recommend enough.
It’s so light and easy to handle, the pot can also be used on the hob AND it’s great value.
Some final tips
⭐️ Before you set aside time to prepare your dump bags, make sure you have freezer space!
⭐️ Have bags and labels ready.
⭐️ If you need a shopping list, you can adjust the recipe ingredients needed for portion sizes on every recipe here:
The Dump Bag Recipes
Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Peanut Butter Stew
Slow Cooker Beef Curry
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
Slow Cooker Bolognese
Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.
Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).
How do you wash the bags so they don’t make everything taste like soap or past ingredients?
I’m wondering if these could be even more amazing in an electric pressure cooker, seeing as you can skip the defrosting stage with those. Any ideas?
Sarah Barnes says
Hi Louise, I haven’t tested them, but let me know if you do. I have an instant pot so maybe I’ll try them in there and report back?
You can skip defrosting meat in the Instant Pot?? This is potentially awesome!
how long can they be in the slow cooker. I’m out 8-5 is that too long !?
Sarah Barnes says
The instructions are on each individual recipe Jenni 🙂
Don’t know if you’ve found an alternative bag yet, but if not, look at Stasher bags. They are expensive, but I got a small one as a free sample and I love it. Dishwasher safe and come in all sorts of sizes, I fully intend to buy myself a few full sets when I win the lottery 😀