In an effort to balance family and work, I’ve started using my crockpot a lot. Now, when I say a lot…I mean ALOT. I’ve slowly metamorphosed into one of those crazy crockpot ladies that spend hours looking for bargains on ingredients and then stockpiling them. Then, after amassing 20 pounds of chicken, pork and beef, assorted veggies and other ingredients, I spend a whole Saturday preparing freezer meals (labeling baggies and filling then with pure deliciousness) and then stuffing them into my tiny apartment freezer like a jigsaw puzzle or overcrowded storage unit.
I love it! :P
I prepped a whole month’s worth of meals before having our second daughter and it was more than worth the time and effort. Now, with the beginning of the school year lurking in the not-to-distant-future, I’ll be doing it all over again with some lessons learned and new things to try!
So, for those of you wondering, here are my 20 Top Hits of this crazy lady’s crockpot/freezer foodie routine. Click on links for the recipes I use for guidance (I rarely follow any recipe verbatim).
These first ones I prep at the beginning of the month and freeze. I then take one out when I need it. I usually cook them from frozen instead of thawing and then cooking.
This site provides excellent instructions on the bagging/prepping process.
1. Plain Shredded Chicken can be thawed in less than an hour and is great for soups, salads, sandwiches or tacos. I just use onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to season it instead of all the veggies and stuff.
2. Flavored Shredded Chicken can be used for everything mentioned in #1, but tastes how you want it to. Follow the above directions, but add taco seasoning or whatever your heart desires when you put the chicken in the crockpot!
3. Taco meat. Cook up a couple pounds of taco meat (use ground turkey or half ground turkey and half beef for a healthier alternative) and let cool before bagging.
5. Breads. I make several loafs of banana bread at a time or will make them into muffins and then freeze them. So, whenever we want banana bread, I pull one out the freezer the morning before and we have yummy bread!
6. Marinated Pork Steaks. Put enough pork steaks into a gallon ziplock bag for one meal (I always include a 1-2 extra for lunch the next day) and pour in about 1 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup orange juice, onion and garlic powder, a few squirts of lemon juice. For a meal, thaw them and cook in a pan or serve win a stir fry. Tasty! You could also use a bottled marinade from the store.
7. Marinated chicken breasts. Use the same marinade as above or you can buy any bottled marinade at grocery store.
8. Hamburger patties. I make about 12 patties out of 1/2 gr. turkey and 1/2 ground angus. I then layer then in a gallon Baggie between parchment paper.
9. German Lentil Stew. Don’t add the spaetzle (noodles) into the soup before freezing it. Make those fresh the day of or leave them out completely. Egg noodles or rice are also tasty sides.
10. Frozen veggies. I do this when bell peppers or avocados are on sale.
12. Frozen fruit for smoothies. I buy bananas and let them ripen for a few days. I then cut each banana into 8 chunks (4 chunks= 1/2 banana) and tray freeze them for one hour before bagging them. I do the same for strawberries when they are on a crazy-sale.
13. Frozen pizza dough. Make up about 6-10 batches of pizza dough (my recipe makes dough for 1 pizza which is why I have to multiply it so much). After it is ready, divide it into single pizza servings and bag. Freeze flat.
14. Frozen cookie dough. Make your favorite cookie dough and roll into logs. Wrap logs in parchment paper or plastic wrap and bag. Freeze. To use, slice and place on pan and bake as usual.
These next few recipes are so simple that they don’t need to be prepped ahead of time or just taste better when done the morning you are making it.
15. Crockpot Carnitas. Better than Chipotle and waaaay cheaper. Use to make burritos or burrito bowls. I use the leftovers in salads or quesadillas.
16. Korean Beef Tacos. Simply one of the BEST things that has ever come out of my crockpot. I make all the sides from both blogs. Also, I use whatever beef roast is cheapest. I don’t worry about the short ribs.
19. BBQ Chicken. Put in 4-5 chicken breasts in the crockpot and enough BBQ sauce to cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Shred and toss more sauce on top if needed. Eat as sandwiches or on top of a loaded baked potato (YUM!).
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