I’ve been on a bit of a freezer meal quest lately, determined to find things that are easy to make ahead, and still taste good cooked from frozen. A huge part of this is being willing to make freezer meals by myself when time presents itself. This means NOT waiting for a sister or friend to ask me if I want to make freezer meals, kicking my butt into gear for some intentional grocery shopping, and telling my kids I’m busy even though no one their own size has come over to play with them.
As a natural lazy person with low intrinsic motivation, this is a good challenge for me. I am being very successful, if I do say so myself ;) This tandoori chicken is one of the winning recipes!
To be clear, this chicken has tandoori spices, not dissimilar to butter chicken spices, but I’m pretty sure it’s about as unauthentic as Nienhuis-family-friendly Indian food can be, so I apologize to anyone who knows their tandoori. I also think tandoori chicken is typically cooked in the oven, so the slow cooker further nullifies any solid connection to real Indian food.
But, since “Bunch o’ Spices Slow Cooker Chicken” didn’t quite capture what was going on here, tandoori it is! It’s pretty mild, and you could definitely ramp up the chili powder and cayenne pepper if you’re into that kind of thing. The only thing I think is really important is to serve it with some naan bread, store bought or deliciously homemade. There is definite messy sauciness here, and the bread is perfect for dipping and mopping.
Having freezer meals on hand just gives me the serious inner smiles. I’ve learned that making 8-10 meals for my freezer in a morning is a completely reasonable goal, and those meals can include breakfast, lunch and dinner! (I already knew about freezing dessert, I am a natural when it comes to making sure dessert is never far away ;))
The biggest game changer has been the discovery of freezer meals that don’t require any pre-cooking. Working with fresh ingredients, and leaving them essentially unchanged, means the actual meal is going to taste fresh and delicious when it’s prepared, not like a mushier version of its fresh self. So a lot of my freezer meal prep is really just combining ingredients and making my future “what’s for dinner” decisions easier. Not having to cook anything during the prep seriously cuts down on coordination of oven temps and cooling times, so production can go way, way up.
Start with this tandoori chicken, and I’ll get back to you on the meatloaf, beef and broccoli stirfry, and chicken lettuce cups we’re loving. And if you have go-to no-cook freezer meals, please share them in the comments! This is exciting stuff.
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (chicken breasts work as well)
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk (preferably full fat)
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp garam masala
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder, or 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½-1 tsp cayenne pepper
- MAKE IT TODAY: Place chicken thighs in lightly greased slow cooker. In medium bowl, whisk together all other ingredients. Pour over chicken and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. Turn slow cooker off and shred chicken with two forks. Let stand 10-20 minutes to allow sauce to thicken slightly, then serve over rice.
- FOR FREEZER: Label large freezer bag with recipe and date. Put uncooked chicken thighs in the freezer bag. Whisk together all other ingredients and pour into bag. Seal, removing as much air as possible, and freeze.
- To make, thaw in fridge overnight then dump all contents into slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over rice. (If you forgot to thaw it, you can cook directly from frozen in slow cooker on high for 6 hours.)
Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum, where you can also find Instant Pot instructions for this recipe and so many other good freezer meal ideas.