I get paid once a month. Needless to say, budgeting is not easy, so when I am down to the wire, and doing a “pantry challenge” it is sometimes like trying to make a meal out of beans, and salsa.
I sometimes will do a semi-freezer cooking day, but it is the usual fare, of recipes that I know how to make by heart: chili, taco soup, meatballs. This time I wanted to put together some crock-pot freezer meals for the days that I work, to just be able to pull out the night before to thaw and throw in the pot before I leave for work.
Today, I worked from a list that I put together last night. So the process for me is twofold. First is making the list of recipes I will make for the freezer, writing down all the ingredients needed at the store, or stores, as the case is with me. I like to buy my meat in one store and my other groceries at another. I could easily shop at 4 stores to get the best prices, and I sometimes do, but for this shop, I just did 2 stores. Oy.
The second part of the process starts once the shopping is done. I pull out all the gallon sized bags, and my sharpie. Sometimes I cut up all the veggies first, so the meat won’t contaminate anything. This time though, I cut the meat in one area, then put in their respective bags. After the meat was cut, I washed down the counters, changed the cutting board, and started the veggies. It is easier to cut all the specific veggies you need across all the recipes, than to do each recipe at a time. It is kind of like an assembly line and it saves tons of time in my view. After you fill the bags, squeeze out the air, and zip them up. Double bag any with liquids. Sharpie your meal name, and instructions on the bag: BBQ legs, low 6-8, serve with rice.” That kind of instruction. Very detailed right?
It is hard to give you a total price, since I was shopping for the next week for lunches and snacks too, but the round number is $40 for the meat and for the groceries that I didn’t have it was only $35. I know that sounds super low for some or hight for others, but my grocery store is awesome. and I am happy with the cost spent. It is the kind of store where you bag your own groceries and you pay a quarter for your cart, which you get back when you return the cart…incentive to bring carts back to the carriage return I think. Anyhoo… It has great produce for super cheap. Since all these meals just call for meat and veggies with some type of sauce before freezing, I didn’t need a lot of extra stuff.
You can find some of these recipes here, or here, otherwise they were my own. The low down is that I prepped and froze:
Creamy Chicken Soup (crockpot)
Lamb Curry (crockpot)
Barbecue Chicken Thighs with Veggies (crockpot)
Chicken Fajitas (crockpot)
BBQ Chicken Legs (oven or crockpot)
Then, I had to NOT freeze my dinner for tomorrow morning’s prep before work, so I just assembled and left in a bag in the fridge, Chicken Sweet Potato Stew.
I now have 6 meals prepped, and have meat not-prepped, but ready for me to make:
Sunday Sauce (for pasta)
Corn Chowder with Ham
So technically 11 meals. Totally worth the one hour shopping trip, and 2.5 hours of prepping. But it was a bit hectic. I think I can plan it better next time…and make more room in my freezer (picture is NOT pin-worthy) as I only have one and it is stuffed!