October 12, 2018

20 Slow Cooker Dinners--Prepped and In My Freezer!

I've never been a big meal "prepper"--preparing things ahead of time to just heat and eat. Usually, it's just because I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for, so I don't want a bunch of meals in my freezer that I might never want to eat. Also, it just seems like SO. MUCH. WORK. preparing a bunch of meals at one time.

Since I've been renovating the kitchen, it's been a pain trying to cook dinner. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't even know how many times Jerry has picked up a pizza over the last month because the kitchen is a huge mess.

I was looking for a tutorial on Pinterest a few days ago, and I came across a pin about slow cooker meals--20 meals in 4 hours, prepped and in the freezer. I thought it sounded perfect for our current situation. I could just pull a dinner out of the freezer each morning and throw it in the crock pot. Then I won't have to worry about cooking later.

It's only been three days now, but I LOVE this system! I hated the prep work (it took me eight hours, not four!) but it's totally worth it now. We had lasagna on Wednesday, stuffed peppers yesterday, and beef hash today.

Here is a link to the website where I got all of the recipes. It's super convenient, because it even includes a shopping list! I literally printed out all of the recipes and the shopping list, and then went to the store and bought everything on the list. It was $200 😳 But, considering it would last us until the end of the month, it actually wasn't that bad.

groceries

(You can see how slow the progress is on my kitchen! I took all the doors off of the cupboards, preparing to paint. Then I got sidetracked by building shelves on top of the cupboards--see below.)

Also, it included a LOT of meat. My family doesn't usually eat this much meat, so if I do this again, I think I'll just pick and choose recipes that we like and cut back on the amount of meat in them. I'll make up some of my own meals, too.

Anyway, it took me FOREVER to cut up all of the meat (chicken breasts; chicken thighs--which I've never bought before; ground beef; ground turkey; pork; pot roast; stew beef; and a couple of other cuts of beef. I buy beef about three times a year, so I felt odd buying so much red meat, but I thought it would be fun to try different meals, so I didn't question anything.

And the recipes are actually really simple! I like simplicity when cooking. If it has less than six ingredients or so, I'm very happy. Bonus if I already have most of the ingredients. And that's how a lot of the meals I just prepped are!

The meal prep basically involved trimming meat (I am super picky about meat! I have to trim all fat, and anything else that just doesn't look "right" from it before I will cook it), then putting it into a gallon size freezer bag with the other ingredients (some of which need prepping as well, like sweet potatoes and peppers--holy cow, I cut up 10 green peppers!--onions, etc.).

I wrote the name of the meal on the bag and the instructions. Most of them just say, "Low for 6-8 hours"--so easy! A couple of them have one or two other instructions, but I was so glad that none of them have the directions to "cook this meat first and then add it to the crock pot" then "sauté these onions and peppers and add them to the meat" and then "stir all of these ingredients together to make a sauce, and add it to the crock pot when you have two hours of cooking time left" followed by, "30 minutes before serving, add cheese on top and reduce heat to low" and finally, "Oh! And serve it with rice or pasta". Seriously! Why bother using a slow cooker if you have to do all of those things?

So, from 10:00 AM until nearly 6:00 PM on Tuesday, I turned $200 worth of ingredients (not including the stuff I already had at home) into 20 meals ready to take out of the freezer and dump into the slow cooker. I'm super excited about it! Not only the fact that I don't have to cook for three weeks, but also that we are trying new things. And it's the perfect time of year for the crock pot.

Anyways, the days are flying by. The kitchen progress has been slow... even though I work on it every spare moment I have. This whole week, I've been working on building shelves above my cabinets. This involves measuring, measuring, then sawing the wood, then measuring some more, making adjustments, measuring again, and drilling and then securing with screws (I originally wrote "screwing" but that just didn't sound right in these circumstances). Then going back for more measuring and adjustments.

I honestly think I could start my own TV show... first, you have an idea for a renovation. Then you search Google or Pinterest for ideas on how to put that idea into action. Then you watch a few YouTube videos to learn how to do it. I've learned how to tape and mud drywall, skim coat, "cut in" when painting, all the differences between latex and oil-based paints, and about a thousand other things. Jerry says he feels bad that I'm doing everything, but I actually really like doing it. I'll be super proud when it's done! (If it turns out okay, haha).

I want to post progress photos, but my house is such a mess! I have things all over the place, depending on what room I'm working on at the moment. Also, when I'm done, I will write a post about the expenses. We are still staying debt free since paying off our credit card in August, and we are doing this whole renovation with money that we had been using toward our debt. It's SO MUCH MORE FUN to put the money toward things like updating the kitchen than it was to pay down debt. I don't ever want to get into debt again, so we've been very conscious about our budget.

The bruise on my shin is finally healing and has stopped hurting. But I do love freaking people out with it! A girl at cross country practice told me that she couldn't run that day (she has a different excuse at every practice) because she tripped when getting off the bus and her shin hurt. I was like, "REALLY?!" as I rolled up my pant leg. Hahaha.

huge bruise

(If you missed it, I fell off of a chair while I was painting, and my shin scraped against the seat of the chair the whole way down. It hurt like a mother!)

I'm still having issues with the nerves in my neck/arm, but I have an appointment with the neurologist in four days. It has gotten a little better, though. I've only been waking up with the pain about once each night, and it's not bad enough to make me pace around the bedroom. My hand is always numb from 6 AM when I wake up until about 10 AM. It's so annoying! I'm curious what the neurologist will say.

I only have one more week of cross country--it's kind of sad! I think this year has been my favorite out of the four years I've been coaching. The kids are fantastic and I love how motivated some of them are. We have a race tomorrow morning. I really wish I could sleep in!


7 comments:

  1. Did you try Arnica on your bruise yet? I don't know if it actually works, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something productive!

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    1. Have used Arnica for years on bruises, for your arm when you get blood drawn at the dr.'s office, etc. It helps with the pain & swelling, and then the bruise heals/disappears so much faster, too.

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  2. Well done on the food. Anything is cheaper and healthier than take away!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this link to the crockpot freezer meals! I picked out 12 and I'm going to put them together tomorrow. I've been terrible with cooking lately, this is going to help tremendously!

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  4. Love this idea!! That's so many meals and honestly $200 for 3 weeks worth of food is a steal! Great job!

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  5. I obsessively trim my meat, too. Biting into gristle will turn me off from the whole piece of meat.

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  6. i love this blog! Awesome meal ideas!

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