Anyway, I have been obsessing about putting together "Freezer to Crockpot" meals for months, and between work and other random things (like my craft ADD) I never take the time to put these together. I even made a list of pros vs cons of half preparing and freezing these meals.
Well, tonight I am happy to say I finally did it!! The best part is, because most of these recipes are meant to feed 4+ people, and I am only cooking for 2, I get to try the "TV-Dinner" method of saving leftovers. I personally think it will help cut down food waste. We have a bad habit of forgetting about leftovers in the fridge or a container or two getting pushed too far back. Yeah, not fun or money friendly.
These are my own recipes, inspired by the Freezer to Crockpot posts.
So anyway, I composed a shopping list and how I put these together. I made 8 bags, plus prepped a bag of veggies to go with the pork roast in the freezer and have a few pounds of hamburger cooked and ready to dump into spaghetti, sloppy joe sammies or tacos/burritos. Right now my guess is I should be getting a minimum of 20 servings from my "Freezer to Crockpot" prepped bags.
Shopping at Wal-Mart and the local grocery store I focused on the brands and items that were on sale and used a few coupons, everything listed in post totals less than $80. Granted my total grocery bill was slightly higher (Halloween clearance candy. Dove chocolate. A few breakfast and lunch items. Candy. So much candy.), I feel I have been successful in figuring out how to be more cost effective with our food budget (without the candy, of course).
Oh and some tips when assembling these. Use a clean pitcher to stand your freezer bag in, helps prevent spills. I write out the directions on all the bags first then add the raw meat so I can be done handling it, then just drop the bag of meat into my pitcher and add everything else. Seal, shake, and lay flat to freeze!
2 5-lb bag potatoes
5 lbs ground beef
8 lbs chicken (I used boneless thighs b/c they were on sale)
6 butterflied pork chops (again, on sale, I got them in 2-packs for approx $1 each)
1 pork roast
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
3 containers baby bella mushrooms
1/2 to 1 lb fresh string beans
1 bag carrots (or baby carrots, depends on preference)
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 can family size cream of mushroom (or whatever cream soup) soup
1 bunch of scallions
1 bulb of garlic
3 packets fajita seasoning
salt & pepper
1 16-oz bottle ranch dressing
3 lb bag of rice
So basically I write out the directions and what is inside each bag w/a permanent marker. Helps me not forget and a certain someone to not have an excuse to get McDonalds for dinner. (uck)
Salsa Chicken (makes 2 bags)
Directions - Thaw. Cook on High 3-5 hrs or Low 5-6. Serve with rice.
Put about 2 lbs of chicken into the bag, 1 can plus 1/2 a second can of diced tomatoes, 3 finely chopped scallions, and 1 1/2 packets fajita seasoning mix. Seal tight and shake to mix.
Garlic and Herb Chops & Potatoes (makes 2 bags)
Directions - Thaw. Cook on High 3-4 hrs or Low 6-7. Serve with veggies.
Place 2 butterflied chops and about 4-5 (depending on size) chopped potatoes per bag. Dice up a few scallions and add to bag. Roughly chop washed mushrooms and add about 1/2 - 3/4 container per bag. Dice up a few cloves of garlic or shake in garlic powder (we like lots, so use to your preference), add salt, pepper, about 1 Tbsp dill, and a few shakes of dried parsley. Add no more than a few Tbsp water or olive oil, to help evenly distribute the herbs. Seal tight and shake to mix.
Ranch Chicken & Potatoes (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw. Cook on High 3-4 hrs or Low 5-6. Serve with salad/veggies.
Place about 2 lbs of chicken and 5-6 (depending on size) potatoes into bag. Dice up a few scallions and add to bag. Pour over whole 16 oz bottle of ranch dressing (I use a little water at the end to shake it up and get the rest out). Add a few cloves of chopped garlic or garlic powder (optional). Seal tight and shake to mix.
Chicken & Mushroom (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw. Add gravy or whisk bliss to crock pot before cooking. Cook on High 3-4 hrs or Low 5-6. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.
Place about 2 lbs of chicken and 1 to 1 1/2 package roughly chopped (and washed) mushrooms to bag. Add chopped garlic or garlic powder, salt and pepper. Seal tight and shake to mix.
Garlic Pork w/Broccoli & Mushroom (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw. Cook on High 4 hours or Low 5-6. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.
Place 2 butterflied pork chops in bag with 1 bag frozen broccoli and 1/2 to 1 container roughly chopped mushrooms. Add chopped garlic or garlic powder and a few Tbs water. Seal tight and shake to mix.
Tater Tot Casserole (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw. Pour bag into crock pot. Top with bag of frozen tater tots. Cook 2-4 hrs low heat or 1-3 hours high heat. Top with cheese the last 45 min or so of cooking so it melts.
Cook and drain 1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef (with onions and peppers if desired). Allow to cool off some before putting in bag with 1 bag of mixed veggies, 1 can cream soup and 1/2 cup water. Seal tight and shake to mix.
Pork Roast Veggies (makes 1 bag)
Directions - Thaw pork roast and put in crock pot. Add bag with no more than 1 cup water approx 2-3 hours into cooking. Cook high 6 hrs or low 8-9.
Wash and chop 5-6 potatoes (depending on size), 3-4 carrots, 1 onion (optional). Clean string beans (ends and any bad spots) and add to bag with a few cloves chopped garlic, salt & pepper. Seal tight.
So I mentioned at the beginning of this post the "TV-Dinner" method of saving leftovers. Rich loves food he can have in a few minutes or less, so this seemed perfect. I got some plastic storage containers (I'm trying the Rubbermaid, Ziplock and off brand kinds of containers to see if any are better than the others in the freezer) and after dinner portion out the remainder into the containers. I can even stick a homemade treat into a sandwich bag and stick it in with it before I close up tight and stick in the freezer. Now instead of a high sodium, empty calorie, hungry in a half hour later, over priced boxed microwave meal, he can have healthy, yummy and filling food. (Also keeps him away from McDonalds!!)