About eight months or so ago (probably a bit longer, it was shortly after the time that I joined pinterest...so...) I stumbled across the swellest idea in swellsville, and I have had it in the back of my brain ever since. I was goofing around on pinterest checking out recipes that folks had pinned, when I came across a collection of bulk crockpot recipes that were to be prepped, tossed in freezer bags, and then stored in the freezer for future use. What? Best idea ever, right? In order to save money/time/sanity there are women and men out there who devote a day to preparing crock pot meals in advance, so that they can simply grab meals out of the freezer in the mornings and then throw 'em in the crockpot. These savvy peeps are freezing twenty, thirty, or more crock pot meals ahead of time so that they can bulk shop and save mucho dinero. Now I dunno about you all, but there is no room in my budget for a body length freezer, so obviously thirty meals in advance won't work for us... but... We have a good sized freezer that doesn't get a whole lotta play now that my cousin, the pants pee-er, and the small and charming have moved out. I don't spend money on freezer food, so generally there isn't much in there. I keep frozen fruits, bananas, and pureed pumpkin in the door, usually a loaf or two of bread, and maybe a couple large bags of corn/peas/green beans, and that's about it. Sometimes there is dough or filo, but that can sit in the ice box. I do love my ice cream, but I don't buy it all the time. I tried to estimate how many full one gallon freezer bags would fit, and my guess was perhaps ten.
So I was thinking of trying this brilliant idea recently as a way to avoid getting take out on days that I know I'm going to be busy and out of the house. And then lo and behold I find out that a friend of mine just did this crock pot freezer meals in bulk thing just last week. She actually bought a freezer specifically so that she could try this whole thing out at home since she works and goes to school full time. Like me, she's only feeding two people, so it's clear that neither of us will need to go through one crock pot meal a day. The Cubs and I can typically get three meals for two out of one crock pot recipe, and sometimes more than that if the recipe is for eight servings. Also, some nights I truly do wanna screw around and play in the kitchen reworking leftovers into new and interesting dishes, so we'd probably use maybe two of the meals a week at the most I am guessing. My friend, Weetzie, had nothing but good things to say about her experiences (though she did grossly underestimate how long it would take her to chop veggies and prep 20 meals), so I made a mental commitment to change the way that we shop and eat around here.
For starters, I chose only four recipes to prepare and freeze ahead of time. I definitely could have done more, but I wanted to see what full one gallon freezer bags would look like sitting in the freezer. I had this image of a packed freezer and all this produce and whatnot that wouldn't fit and needed to be eaten. Yipes. I absolutely will not waste food (although I sure as hell will give it to the dog or the cats), so I thought four was a good number to start with. My earlier prediction of ten meals was pretty spot on. If we had ten in there, we'd still have room on the other side for bread, veggies, ice cream, or whatever. Even though I have two vegetarian crockpot cookbooks, I choose recipes from Weetzie's pile of twenty that she created. They all contain meat, but I wanted to mix things up a bit. I so rarely cook meat that I thought it would be a nice change for The Cubs. (Why do I not cook meat? The smell of cooking meat close up literally sickens me, ESPECIALLY beef. I can't stand to be in a room where ham is cooking (ham makes me sick), because the smell turns my stomach so much) The nice thing about meat in a crockpot is that the smell has never bothered me or caused me to feel ill. God bless crockpots.
We now have four (hopefully) tasty, veggie packed, and balanced meals currently freezing that will be ready to whip into a crock pot. I am particularly excited to cook stuffed peppers in a crockpot, as I've never used a crockpot to make them before. After today, I can't think why, because it is soooooo much easier and faster putting them together and freezing them than cooking the whole dish in one long marathon. The Cubs made me two full jars of his sun dried marinara just for the stuffed peppers the other day (one jar will be poured in the bottom of the crockpot the day we cook the peppers), and we saved rice from a previous meal for the stuffing so that I wouldn't have to mess around cooking rice and making sauce. There is always the option of using jarred store bought sauce, I guess, but in this house the sauce is never pre made. Cubby would probably leave me if I tried to feed him jarred sauce. For a Hispanic boy he is mighty particular about his Italian food.
As these recipes are new (the stuffed peppers recipes is not new, just modified for the crock pot) and I have not tried them yet, I didn't want to post the recipes. Lord help me if I ever posted a sub par recipe. Who wants to spread mediocre food recipes around? I am definitely going to share my results though! I am already planning on the next ten meals that I'm going to choose for our next big grocery trip.
Do any of you have any tried and true crockpot recipes that you adore? (no piggy meat please- more than a bite or two and I'll get as sick as a dog)
What was nice and convenient is that today after I was done chopping and dumping stuff into freezer bags I ended up with a leftover orange pepper, a couple stalks of celery, some broccoli, and enough chicken for a stir fry. I whipped up a honey garlic sauce in no time, and it was a smash hit. My fella took a few bites, and then looked up a said that he didn't think there would be any leftovers tonight. Honestly, there were three nice servings, but he went ahead and ate two, so there was nothing left as predicted. I don't know how that boy stays such a healthy weight all the time. For realsies.
Speaking of weight, my scale is still shoved into the closet. I almost pulled it out today, and then I mentally slapped myself full on in the face, and decided that I wanted to have a nice day instead. Last week we got in three good workouts, and this week I am increasing that number to four or five. Soon it'll be back to an every day affair! No more scales. Daily workouts, balanced eating, and attentive self care are the only ways that I am going to make long term changes.
Oh- I totally had to come back and add this-
I have had a smoothie a day now for twenty eight days running! I've been making green smoothies in an effort to avoid winter illnesses, and it seems to be working. I thought that I was getting sick a few times, but my body fought it off and I've nearly made it through January without a single sick day. I've not been sick this winter and I intend to keep it that way!!
So, what are my thoughts on having a smoothie every day? Wellllllll, I very much enjoy the green smoothies that I've been having, but I kinda wish I had a Vitamix so that I could put carrots/ beets/ etc. into my smoothies. My base has been an orange, a frozen banana, a cup of greens, and then whatever else I've got on hand (makes two servings), and I'm kinda getting tired of that combo. Unfortunately, most fruits aren't tasting their best right now since it is winter. I had bland strawberries, bland cantaloupe, meh grapes, and we've been out of frozen fruit for a while. Will I keep up with the smoothie a day thing after January? Hmmm. Probably not every day, but definitely a few a week. I still aspire to one day own a Vitamix!
Hope everybody had a great Monday!