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Friday, January 11, 2013

Freezer Slow Cooker Meals

My mom is the one who got me thinking of freezer meals. She's done it before, and I know how much she loved it. I never tried the freezer meals myself, but I liked the idea of it. I already make up a menu each week and love the organization. I'm able to see what is on sale, make up a list of meals and do all my shopping in one day. Then, rather than staring in the fridge and cupboards waiting for something to pop out at me, I know exactly what we are having and I can get started right away without even having to think about it. If I'm running late or busy doing something else, my husband will just look at the menu and get started on dinner. (I love having a man who likes cooking!) 

With my hubby taking a full load at school and still working, I knew he wasn't going to have any time to help me in the kitchen once this semester starts. It's not a big deal that I would have to make dinner each night, but it would be nice to have a few nights to do some projects and sew on the nights that he will be busy with homework. 
I found a blog through Pinterest with a list of freezer meals for the slow cooker. It sounded perfect for us. Toss it in the fridge the night before, dump it in the slow cooker before work, and come home to dinner waiting.

I did this today and it took me about 5 1/2 hours start to finish. That is including all the clean-up afterwards. (dishes, mopping, etc.)  When you're as clumsy as me and spill a bag all over (not once, but twice!), you'll want to mop afterwards, too. Side note, make sure they are tightly sealed before mashing them around to mix up the ingredients!

Since these are not my recipes, I'll send you over to Jessica at Loving My Nest. She has all the recipes you need for what I did and more! Using her list, I got 22  freezer meals (11 different kinds)  for $65.54! (Granted I already had some of the stuff I needed, but still!) 

I started by chopping all my veggies, then I prepped all the meat and divided it into the bags. Chopping and prepping are, by far, the most time consuming project here. If you have anyone to help you, this won't take you nearly as long as it took me. Here are some of the veggies all prepped...

Today, our freezer went from this.....

 To this!!!!!

This is what we made:
1. Pork Stew
2. Pork Stew
3. Bean Stew
4. Bean Stew
5. Pork & Veggies
6. Pork & Veggies
7. Chicken Tortilla Soup
8. Chicken Tortilla Soup
9. Chicken Taco Soup
10. Chicken Taco Soup
11. Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew
12. Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew
13. Creamy Farmhouse Chicken & Garden Soup
14. Creamy Farmhouse Chicken & Garden Soup
15. Spaghetti Sauce
16. Spaghetti Sauce
17. Taco Meat
18. Taco Meat
19. Taco Meat
20. Chicken Thighs & Veggies
21. Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken
22. Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken

That's a whole heck of a lot of food for the time and the money!
 I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on what we think once we start using them. If you do anything like this, please share! I love getting yummy meal ideas.

***UPDATE: We have tried some of these now, so I thought I would give you our thoughts on how we liked them.

Pork Stew: This was okay. Tony liked it more than me, but still wasn't one of his favorites.
Bean Stew: Ick. I'm sorry, but we really weren't fans of this dish. It definitely needs more flavor and variety! 
Pork & Veggies: This was one that my husband and I both liked. (Added salt & pepper.)
Chicken Tortilla Soup: Tastes very similar to the Chicken Taco Soup. A good one! 
Chicken Taco Soup: This is probably our favorite so far! Yummy! (I did add a little of our homemade jalapeno hot sauce to this and I think that helped kick up the flavor.)
Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew: This was pretty good. I added salt & pepper, but it was still a little bland. Will add more seasonings next time.
Creamy Farmhouse Chicken & Garden Soup: We thought this was pretty good, too. Added some sour cream to get it a little "creamier". 
Spaghetti Sauce: Used this over penne pasta and it was good! Didn't really taste like spaghetti though, more like a goulash.
Taco Meat: It's taco meat. Of course it's good. :)
Chicken Thighs & Veggies: You may have noticed that this was not a recipe listed. After I had finished preparing the meals, I had some leftovers of most of the ingredients. I combined all the remaining veggies and some chicken thighs, threw in some seasonings and hot sauce. I cooked it on low and served it over rice. It was a good, filling meal.
Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken: We never had a chance to try this one. We gave them both to an older man we know who was in need. If you try them, I would like to know how they taste. :)

I'm glad I tried these and it was definitely worth the time and money for us. I'll be doing this again, but changing the recipes up a bit to meet our taste preference. Overall...season the dishes!!! Most of them have a good base with the meat and veggies, but are lacking the flavor of the seasonings.

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