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- August 2, 2012 at 8:17 am #585386
I’m joining the freezer cooking “sensation” and filling my freezer with crock pot meals! Lucky for you I’m sharing what I did and how I made 34 meals (many with enough leftovers for diner the following day) in one afternoon for only $146.96. Interested? Want the recipes I use? They’re at the bottom
I did something like this back when both Brad and I were working full time with both boys in day care. I just hated getting home and having the rush of trying to get dinner ready while all I really wanted to do was spend what few waking moments I had left with the boys.
It was awesome to only have to boil some water for noodles or throw some rice in the rice cooker and have super healthy yummy dinners.
Buying The Food
I started planning this out last week. I went though recipes that I had, recipes online as well as other blogs that have done a similar task. I came up with 9 crock pot recipes and added taco, spaghetti and hamburger patties as well. I double (or more) all of the crock pot recipes.
I I tried to find things with similar ingredients but not so similar that they were the same. I make a spread sheet for a shopping list and consolidate all of the recipes together. You can often save this way by buying the larger cans of things like tomato sauce rather than a ton of smaller individual ones.
Then I went through the sale fliers for SaveMart, Raley’s, Winco and Safeway and found what was the cheapest (knowing that I was probably only going to be going to SaveMart and Winco from previous experience).
SaveMart has this awesome sale that on select days a week you can get fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.59/lb. They also had chicken leg quarters on sale for $.68/lb and some boneless pork chops for $1.99/lb.
I usually buy my meat from SaveMart when it’s on sale because their prices are so low. But here’s the even better tip… do your shopping at the end of that week’s sale in the early morning.
Not only do you get on sale meat, but you can often find it marked down because it’s due to “expire”. Most of the meat I got today was $1.00 to $3.00 off the package price because of this. I filled my cart for only $67 and some change.
I went to Winco for everything else.
Preparing The Food
Once home I lay everything out on the counter (loving my new kitchen right about now…) and wash everything. I try to do all of the same task (like washing) at the same time. I’ve found it saves me some time.
Landon is a master green bean snapper! He snapped off all the stems and snapped the bean in half – he did most all of it by himself!
Then I cut up everything. I go though the recipes one more time and note what needs to be sliced, diced or chopped… and do that to the appropriate number of veggies. I note the volume of an average 1 of each veggie so measuring out for the recipe is a lot easier
Once the veggies are done I repeat the process with the meat. I do the meat last so it has the longest time in the fridge before being assembled into a meal
Filling the Bags
Then I sit down (yay! a break!) with the box of Ziploc bags and start labeling. I write the recipe title and date and any directions of things that need to be added or special serving instructions on the bag.
I try to put as much stuff into the bag as possible, but sometime the liquid wont fit with all the meat and veggies. I make my own turkey stock so I have bags frozen that I’ll just pull out when I pull the main food bag out.
Then I fill all the bags with the meat first, more to get the raw meat up off the cutting boards but also to hold the bags up so I can fill it with the veggies and other ingredients better.
This time took me a bit longer than I thought, Brad came home from work, I said “dinner’s ready…. for the next few months, but not today!” He was a great hubby and pulled stuff together (and took my picture) while I finished stuffing bags.
The kitchen is a mess after I’m all done and my legs and feet are killing me, but two loads of the dishwasher and a mop of the floor and it’s back to normal. But if you think about it, that mess really won’t happen again for about 2 months or so.
Plus all the time I get to spend playing with the boys instead of cooking. Plus that fact that I only spent a little over $100 for almost 2 months worth of meals. Plus… well you get the idea.
It did take me most of 5 hours to do all of this, but that was with the two little ones “helping”. Landon helped a ton and I powered through when Riley was napping to get a lot done. Just know it’s totally possible to do.
Not pictured is the spaghetti sauce, hamburger patties and taco meat… whoops! Forgot to take a picture of those!
Have you done something like this? I’m always looking for new recipes that go in the crock pot that freeze well. Share!
6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (add when putting in crock pot)
1 cup dry beans, picked over and rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely diced
3 tablespoons uncooked white rice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
1/8teaspoon ground white or black pepper
Combine ingredients in a gallon zip lock bag (minus the broth). Freeze. Thaw, add broth and bag to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Serves 4-5 people.
2 lbs Meat (beef, pork, whatever is on sale), cubed
2 Onions, chopped
5 Carrots, sliced
3 Zucchini, sliced
2 Celery stalks, chopped
2 Red Bell Peppers, chopped
2 tsp Salt
.5 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1 14 oz can Canned Tomatoes
1 can Tomato Sauce
Put all ingredients in a large ziploc bag and freeze. Thaw bag and add contents to slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8. Stir occassionally.
Serve with warm cornbread. Serves approx 5-6 people.
Sausage and Bean Supper
1 lb Sausage, thinly sliced or crumbled
1 Onion Chopped
1 Celery Stalk Chopped
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1.5 tsp Dry mustard
¼ cup Honey
1 can Tomatoes with Chili Peppers
1 can Butter Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
In a large skillet brown sausage and onion, drain and allow to cool (totally optional, sausage will cook in the crock pot but there will be excess oil if you don’t pre-brown it). Place sausage in a ziptop bag with other ingrediants. Freeze. thaw contents of bag and place in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring occassionally.
Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips over rice. Serves approx. 5-6 people.
Pork and Veggies
1 lb Pork Roast, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
4 Carrots, sliced
½ pound Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 8oz can Tomato Sauce
1.5 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Combine ingredients in a large ziptop bag, freeze. Thaw contents of bag and place in a slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over hot rice. Serves approx. 5-6 people.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 pound chicken
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
Combine all ingredients into a Ziploc bag. Freeze. Thaw and put into a slow cooker add 2 cups water and one 14 oz can of chicken broth. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. Shred chicken in crock pot after cooking is done.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup. Serves approx. 5-6 people.
Chicken Taco Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer (or broth)
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
shredded Cheddar cheese (optional garnish after cooking)
sour cream (optional garnish after cooking)
crushed tortilla chips (optional garnish after cooking)
Combine all ingredients into a Ziploc bag. Freeze. Thaw and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken in crock pot once cooking is done. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired. Served approx. 5-6 people.
Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
1 can (28 ounces) whole stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup nonfat, low-sodium chicken broth
1⁄4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Combine ingredients minus broth and add to gallon Ziploc bag. Freeze. Thaw add broth and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Serve over hot rice. Serves 6-8 people.
Creamy Farmhouse Chicken and Garden Soup
1/2 package (16 ounces) frozen pepper stir-fry vegetable mix
1 cup frozen corn
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup half-and-half (or non-dairy milk for dairy allergies)
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 can (14 ounces) fat-free chicken broth
Put all ingredients in a Ziploc bag except chicken broth and milk. Freeze. Thaw and put in slow cooker and add chicken broth and milk. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in 3 cups prepared noodles. Serves 7-8 people.
1 lb ground beef
2 bell pepper
1 large can spaghetti sauce
Finely chop or shred (depending on the vegetable aversion of the people eating it) all of the veggies. Brown ground beef with all veggies in a large skillet. Drain grease. Add Spaghetti sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes. Divide into 2 quart-sized Ziploc bags and Freeze. Thaw and reheat on the stove or microwave.
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