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Welcome Pinners!!! First I have to say: WOW! I am totally shocked at the response to this post! I’ve had a lot of people ask about the shopping list I used. Here it is! This includes all the things I wouldn’t normally have in my pantry. Things like salt and other spices I didn’t include – so before you start chopping please do go over the recipes and make sure you have everything. It also is for 1 recipe worth of all the recipes on the recipe page. Please let me know how your cooking adventure went! I love to hear from you all! Another great resource is this cook book. It has quite a few recipes as well as shopping lists! Check it out!
I’m joining the freezer cooking “sensation” and filling my freezer with crock pot meals! Lucky for you I’m sharing what I did and how I made 34 meals (many with enough leftovers for diner the following day) in one afternoon for only $146.96. Interested? Want the recipes I use? They are here! *Clarification* I doubled and/or tripled many of the recipes on that recipe page to make the 34 meals.
I did something like this back when both Brad and I were working full time with both boys in day care. I just hated getting home and having the rush of trying to get dinner ready while all I really wanted to do was spend what few waking moments I had left with the boys. It was awesome to only have to boil some water for noodles or throw some rice in the rice cooker and have super healthy yummy dinners.
Buying The Food
I started planning this out last week. I went though recipes that I had, recipes online as well as other blogs that have done a similar task. I came up with 9 crock pot recipes and added taco, spaghetti and hamburger patties as well. I double (or more) all of the crock pot recipes. I I tried to find things with similar ingredients but not so similar that they were the same. I make a spread sheet for a shopping list and consolidate all of the recipes together. You can often save this way by buying the larger cans of things like tomato sauce rather than a ton of smaller individual ones. Then I went through the sale fliers for SaveMart, Raley’s, Winco and Safeway and found what was the cheapest (knowing that I was probably only going to be going to SaveMart and Winco from previous experience).
SaveMart has this awesome sale that on select days a week you can get fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.59/lb. They also had chicken leg quarters on sale for $.68/lb and some boneless pork chops for $1.99/lb. I usually buy my meat from SaveMart when it’s on sale because their prices are so low. But here’s the even better tip… do your shopping at the end of that week’s sale in the early morning. Not only do you get on sale meat, but you can often find it marked down because it’s due to “expire”. Most of the meat I got today was $1.00 to $3.00 off the package price because of this. I filled my cart for only $67 and some change.
I went to Winco for everything else.
Preparing The Food
Once home I lay everything out on the counter (loving my new kitchen right about now…) and wash everything. I try to do all of the same task (like washing) at the same time. I’ve found it saves me some time.
Landon is a master green bean snapper! He snapped off all the stems and snapped the bean in half – he did most all of it by himself!
Then I cut up everything. I go though the recipes one more time and note what needs to be sliced, diced or chopped… and do that to the appropriate number of veggies. I note the volume of an average 1 of each veggie so measuring out for the recipe is a lot easier
Once the veggies are done I repeat the process with the meat. I do the meat last so it has the longest time in the fridge before being assembled into a meal
Filling the Bags
Then I sit down (yay! a break!) with the box of Ziploc bags and start labeling. I write the recipe title and date and any directions of things that need to be added or special serving instructions on the bag. I try to put as much stuff into the bag as possible, but sometime the liquid wont fit with all the meat and veggies. I make my own turkey stock so I have bags frozen that I’ll just pull out when I pull the main food bag out.
Then I fill all the bags with the meat first, more to get the raw meat up off the cutting boards but also to hold the bags up so I can fill it with the veggies and other ingredients better.
This time took me a bit longer than I thought, Brad came home from work, I said “dinner’s ready…. for the next few months, but not today!” He was a great hubby and pulled stuff together (and took my picture) while I finished stuffing bags.
The kitchen is a mess after I’m all done and my legs and feet are killing me, but two loads of the dishwasher and a mop of the floor and it’s back to normal. But if you think about it, that mess really won’t happen again for about 2 months or so. Plus all the time I get to spend playing with the boys instead of cooking. Plus that fact that I only spent a little over $100 for almost 2 months worth of meals. Plus… well you get the idea. It did take me most of 5 hours to do all of this, but that was with the two little ones “helping”. Landon helped a ton and I powered through when Riley was napping to get a lot done. Just know it’s totally possible to do.
Not pictured is the spaghetti sauce, hamburger patties and taco meat… whoops! Forgot to take a picture of those!
Have you done something like this? I’m always looking for new recipes that go in the crock pot that freeze well. Share!
I’m excited to also let you know about a great e-cookbook that is all about crock pot freezer cooking. It’s from the creator of the Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken recipe that I used in this batch of meals. It has shopping lists and many other recipe ideas! Check it out!
Remember this doesn’t include spices and other normal pantry stuff, so check to make sure you have all you need before you start chopping. This list is for all the recipes posted here, including the one outside link for the Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken!
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