Thursday, September 13, 2012

Crockpot Meal Month

We wanted to test out this idea going around the Internet that would keep Ricky from having to cook dinner for one whole month!

Basically, the gist is that you spend one day chopping and freeze lots of meals. One day of work = One month of meals. Yep; I thought Ricky might like this plan (especially since he did not do the day of work chopping), and he did of course!

Here's the steps (numerically, for my numerical mind):
  1. I searched my recipe book and online for six recipes and then modified them for my crockpot. I chose six different recipes and doubled the amounts (each recipe was six servings) to make 12 meals. And, we did each recipe twice to make 24 meals. [Sundays we eat snack-meals; so, this was four weeks total of freezer meals for us.] I purposefully chose recipes with overlapping ingredients for ease. I picked two beef, two chicken, and two veggie/beans.
  2. I got 12 gallon-size freezer Ziploc bags. I wrote, in permanent marker, on the outside of each bag the name of the recipe.
  3. I typed up the six recipes with three parts to each one: what to put in freezer bag, what to add to the crockpot with the bag, and directions. My six recipes are here (in order of most enjoyed).
  4. I made the ginormous grocery list! This step took a lot more work than I thought :( Maybe it won't for you.
  5. Head to the grocery store to get the goods, but go within a few days before the chopping-day because you want your chicken to be fresh (cannot cut it frozen, and you don't want to thaw and then refreeze it), if you use chicken.
  6. Chopping-day! I had an eager friend of ours come spend the day chopping for us. I had the bags labeled, recipes printed, and all the food ready. [The only cooking (stove-use) she had to do was to brown the ground beef before freezing it.] How to go about filling the bags is completely up to you -- there are different methods, one might be easier for one person, one for another.
  7. Store bags in freezer. Night before cooking, transfer bag from freezer to fridge to thaw enough so the ingredients slide out of the bag (or else, you'll have to cut the bag off of your solid, frozen meal-chunk).
  8. In the morning, add your bag and remaining ingredients to the crockpot. Most meals will cook on low in 8-10 hours. However, my crockpot does not cook well on low. So, we put the meals in the crockpot at lunch/early afternoon and cooked the meals on high heat for 3-4 hours. ["Remaining ingredients" = we did not freeze the liquids (because of space), any tomato item (salsa, paste, stewed tomatoes),  any canned item, uncooked beans or rice...]
  9. Oh, and I kept a list on the fridge of the meals. This way, I could check them off as we used them and know which ones were still in the freezer.
Our dear friend and Ricky opted to do this plan every six months!

Notes: You can freeze spices, cooked beans, cooked ground beef, raw chicken... Rice and lentils cook in the crockpot -- yay!