And then that friend, this past October, mentioned how she had made a bunch of crockpot meals ahead that she had pinned on pinterest. It sounded like a great idea, and so in November I made a bunch of meals, knowing what a crazy month December would be. It was so nice to be able to just pull a bag from the freezer, throw it in the crock, set the timer, and go to work. I didn't have to do much of anything after work supper-wise, which, to me, is where crock pot freezer meals get more bang for their buck than regular freezer meals which usually have to go in the oven. I could come home, play with the kids, scrapbook, and take it easy until we were ready to eat dinner.
The thing about those meals, though, was I only made about 5 different recipes, though I did make multiples of those. But there was only so much variations of Mexican chicken I could handle. Knowing I would have a few days of break free, I scoured some of my favorite websites looking for recipes that were different from each other and spent part of yesterday and today shopping and assembling them. All told, I spent $240 on 17 meals, which averages out to about $14 a meal. I didn't search the ads, I didn't drive around to different stores to get the best deals, and I didn't use coupons, so I know the total could be less had I tried any of those.
Those meals were:
- Chicken Minestrone
- Chicken Cordon Bleu
- Black Bean, Corn, Salsa Chicken
- Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole
- Chicken and Tortellini
- Asian Glazed Chicken
- Pizza Meatloaf
- Autumn Turkey Chili
- Mexican Hash Brown Casserole
- Apricot Glazed Pork Loin
- White Bean Chicken Chili
- Nacho Grande Soup
- Chicken and Jalepeno Dumplings
- Taco Pasta (made two batches)
- Beef Fajitas
It took me about 8 hours, including shopping, to put most of the recipes below together (I'm waiting to make the calzones until this weekend when we have pizza). I assembled each of them individually, which I know cost me a bit more time, but with the kids running in and out and knowing I would have to stop last night, I didn't want to have food I prepped yesterday waiting for today to get used.
Some of them, like the Asian Glazed Chicken, White Bean Chicken Chili, and Black Bean, Corn, Salsa Chicken, were really easy to assemble. Others, like the Autumn Chili and Mexican Hash Brown Casserole, took a bit more time. One recipe, the Ham and Potato Casserole, can't be assembled ahead, but I bought all the ingredients so I have them on hand in my fridge/pantry and can just dump them all in the crock in the morning before work. Very few of them were actually written with make-ahead instructions, so I just used my best guess as to what I could do ahead and what would have to wait.
One thing I did figure out what how to support the baggie. About three recipes in, I was putting the ingredients in a bag, and one tipped and spilled all over the counter. This pot happened to be sitting in the dish drain, and I used it for every recipe that followed.
I plan on posting more detailed descriptions of each meal, how we thought they tasted, the changes I made, and what I might do different if making it again. I know it won't be two years between posts because I threw one in the crock last night for dinner before I started assembling and will have it posted tomorrow to share.
I'm not a food blogger or a photographer. Nothing will be perfect. I am, however, a mom and wife just trying to save others time.