Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crockpot Freezer Meals!

Hang on to your heads, folks. I know this is the post you have ALL been waiting for. ;) As many of you already know, a couple weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at preparing several crockpot freezer meals at one time. For those of you who don't know what those are, they are basically meals that you throw together in a big ziploc bag, and when you're ready to make them, you just thaw them out and throw them in a crockpot. Easy peasy! I've seen this concept many times on Pinterest but just never really felt that compelled to try it until recently. I think I came to the conclusion that I'd try it on one random Sunday when L was still in Arkansas and I was bored. I remember looking at Pinterest, seeing a bunch of recipes, and deciding at like 3:00 in the afternoon that it was a good idea to go to the store and do this whole process that night. Lucky for me, I had many of the necessary spices and ingredients on hand. Also lucky for me, many of the groceries I needed were on sale in the Cartwheel app! Use it people, I'm tellin' ya. I'm already up to $96 in savings. Aaaaaamazing. Anyway, I got home around 5:00 that night with all my groceries and started putting everything together. I think for 6-7 meals, it took me about 2 hours from the time I started to the time the bags of food were in the freezer. Not terrible, though I will admit I did have the, "What the 'f' was I thinking?" moment about half way through. ;) I'm super glad I did it, however, and while we've only tried one so far (chicken fajitas, yum!), I'd definitely go through the process again. Helps to have some time on a weekend to just dedicate to it, so then on those weeknights in the future, you can come home to a meal that's ready and waitin' for ya. It's a beautiful thing. In trying to figure out the best way to post this, I have struggled. Since I haven't tried all the recipes yet, I don't necessarily want to post all of my pictures because I don't even know if the recipes will be good or not. However, I would love to give you an idea of what and how I prepared so you can do the same if you so choose. There was no real rhyme or reason to my recipe choices; just thought they sounded good. You'll notice that most are chicken recipes, but there are plenty of other kinds out there if you have different interests. I'll show a few pics of my process, share the general recipes, and share a master shopping list. I am still trying to decide if I will do an individual post as I try each recipe, so stay tuned!

 All my labeled Ziploc bags!:)
 The majority of my ingredients. Yikes!
Another view. Yes, that is 4 giant bags of frozen chicken, ha.
6 pork chops (I used boneless)
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup chicken broth

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook in crockpot for for 4-5 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low.

5-6 Chicken Breasts
1 cup diced green pepper (I just used one whole pepper)
1 cup diced red pepper (I just used one whole pepper)
2 cups diced mushrooms
1 tsp. minced ginger (I used about 1/4 tsp ground)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 bottle butter chicken sauce (I got mine at Target in the Asian aisle)

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
(I'm not sure I'll like this one as the butter sauce has a very strong flavor/smell. We'll see soon enough!)

5-6 chicken breasts
1 cup salsa
1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)
1 diced onion (I used frozen diced onions)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 pkg. taco seasoning
3 Tbsp. sour cream (add when serving)
Serve over rice or wrap in a tortilla.

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook 8 hours on low, six hours on medium, or 4 hours on high.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 Tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 lemon, sliced
1 tsp. parsley

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

(Tried this one and loved it!!! Will definitely be making them again!)

3 chicken breasts
2 green peppers, sliced
1 onion, sliced (I used frozen diced onions)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 taco seasoning packet
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
Shred chicken and serve on tortillas.

(NOTE: Ours was quite liquidy, so in addition to what was in the crockpot, we made some rice on the side and added rice to the tortillas to help absorb some of the liquid. Amazing flavor! Also, the amount in the crockpot wasn't huge, so you could probably easily double this recipe depending on how many you are feeding.)

 Creamy Italian Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened and cubed
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 dry packet of Italian seasoning

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions
1 lb. Italian Sausage links
1 large pepper, sliced (I used green pepper)
1 medium onion (I used frozen diced onions)
2 cups diced tomatoes (I cut up a tomato rather than using canned diced)
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder

Place all ingredients in gallon-sized freezer bag; lay flat to freeze. Thaw 24 hours before cooking.
Cook on low for 6 hours or high for four hours.
(Recipe recommends serving on hotdog buns.)

All the bags of food! (The Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions is not pictured in this photo since I had forgotten an ingredient and needed to prep and freeze that one a different night.)
Some of the messy aftermath, eeee! ;)

MASTER SHOPPING LIST
In case you are curious and want to try any or all of these recipes, I have created a master shopping list that I used when I went shopping. Knowing ahead of time what you need is obviously a major time saver with a big project like this! Just an FYI: I will include the whole shopping list that's required for these meals rather than the actual list I used to shop. Since I had some ingredients at home, I want to make sure you have a complete list! For what I bought, I spent somewhere between $80-90. Not too terrible in my opinion! Here's the list, and ask away with questions!

MEAT
  • 6 pork chops (I got boneless.)
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage links
  • 23-24 chicken breasts (I had a few breasts at home and also bought 4 bulk bags of chicken at Target.)
PRODUCE/VEGGIES
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups diced mushrooms (I just got a package of pre-sliced mushrooms in the produce section.)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (1 big tomato that I diced up was sufficient for me.)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots (had leftover carrots and celery at home from making Chicken Wild Rice Soup:)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 onions (I didn't buy these - I had frozen diced on hand.)
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger (I used 1/4 tsp. ground)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz.)
ADDITIONAL REFRIGERATED ITEMS
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream (only necessary for topping chicken fajitas; optional) 
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
SAUCES/SOUPS/SEASONINGS
  • 2 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 pkg dry Italian seasoning
  • Lemon pepper seasoning (5 Tbsp.)
  • Parsley (1 tsp.)
  • Chili powder (1 tsp.)
  • Paprika (1/2 tsp.)
  • Salt (1 tsp.)
  • Onion powder (2 tsp.)
  • Garlic powder (2 tsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 bottle butter chicken sauce (see picture above for a link)
  • 1 (32 oz.) carton chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup salsa
Good luck!!! :)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

May I ask....How much did the ingredients cost you ? Just wondering the difference in prices between there and South Arkansas..... bz

Renee said...

Hey there! For me, it was about $85 dollars total. I had most of the spices on hand, and I also had a few pieces of chicken already. I also had some coupons from Target that helped. I probably could have been a smarter shopper about it, but overall, I didn't think that was too terrible!

Casey Smith said...

I just peed my pants a little. I'm THAT excited! Especially when I got to the 'Master Shopping List' part. You've done all the work for me. This is my dream cooking class!!!;)
Thanks Nae! Jacob and I are actually headed to MFLD tonight for unrelated things and I really think this is going to happen! Freezing a few meals before the baby comes will be a godsend!!!
xoxo

Renee said...

Casey, you are so funny! Glad I could excite you to the point of peeing your pants...I think. ;) It may seem like a bit of work on the front end, but just even for someone like me, it makes such a huge difference to put it in and forget about it until it's time to eat. Hope you're able to actually give it a try in order to save yourself some time and energy after the baby comes!!

Wendy Zimmermann said...

I so need to do this! I've found out that I'm getting home from work around 4:30-5 and then I have to try and figure out what to cook the beast and myself for supper. Between getting my act together meal planning and doing some of these my life could be a little easier during the week! If I can get most of my other projects done this weekend I might be able to try this next weekend!

Renee said...

Hope you are able to give it a shot, Wendy! Takes a little patience on the front end, but well worth it!:)