Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Once a Month Crock Pot Cooking!

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Those of you who know me well know that I have absolutely no desire OR ability to be a chef.

I'm just about adequate at the simple culinary tasks such as making a sandwich or making macaroni and cheese.  And I can somewhat squeak by at following most recipes that aren't too complicated.  Most of our meals involve DH grilling out and my making salads, veggies, and sides.  But we've been in a little bit of a cooking rut for a long while - and it's getting sad.  At first after Little Lady was born, I did an okay job of keeping up with meals.  However, as I've been working more and it seems like sleeping less as mentioned here, our meals have slipped into a bunch of boring regulars and we needed a change.

posted a few days ago on the Facebook page that we've decided to try once a month crock pot cooking, and so far - it's been going really well!  I'll keep posting updates as we get through the month, but I figured I would post on how it's been so far, what recipes I used {since so many of you asked to see them!}, and exactly what we bought at the store.

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

Instead of reinventing the wheel, I searched Pinterest and found these freeze-ahead crock pot recipes from another blog.  The recipes made the following meals:

- BBQ Pineapple Pulled Pork
- Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Chicken & Spinach
- Taco Soup
- Pizza Soup
- San Francisco Pork Chops
- Chicken Curry
- Savory Chicken
- Rainy Day Stew

The original blogger who cooked for a month with these recipes should serve at least 18 meals for two people and cost her only $68.  Sixty-eight dollars, right?  That was the main reason I tried these specific recipes - because I really wanted to see how much meals for a month would cost!

When we shopped, DH and I spent right around $130.  So, not quite the $68, but still really great for a full month of dinners {and likely a bunch of lunches as well with leftovers}.  I would highly recommend that you use the meal plan I listed below, because part of the reason why we spent more than what was originally stated was because there were a ton of items on her meal plan list that weren't actually needed for the recipes.  So, here's the recipe shopping list we used:
30 day slow cooker freezer meals

If you look carefully on my shopping list, you'll notice several items the original blogger had added, such as bacon, eggs, etc. - are not longer on my list.  While we enjoyed several days worth of warm breakfasts, none of these recipes used those items.

Also, we made the mistake of buying bags of potatoes and onions, and ended up with WAY too many.  We did also buy bagged frozen chicken instead of fresh chicken and had some left over.  That definitely won't go to waste in our house, but that may have inflated our cost a bit as we had extra after the recipes were finished being made.  {We use chicken breast tenders instead of chicken breasts typically because the portion sizes are smaller and more accurate to one piece per person.}

We also included Slow Cooker Liners which I highly recommend, and the cost of these were added into our total.  This could have inflated our cost as we purchased several bags.  I have a post upcoming on liners for you!

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

As for prep time, DH and I worked together and were able to finish all the recipes in just a few hours.  I know it was surely less than four hours, but maybe even less?  So, while it did take some time, it wasn't an entire day like some monthly cooks report.

When we began to cook, the first recipe we used was the Rainy Day Stew, mainly because you can't freeze potatoes {they turn black}, so we wanted to cook that in the crock pot right away, without freezing.  That is the first meal we've had, and it lasted our family of four {I count the kids as one serving since they're so little and don't eat too much} three full dinners and two lunches for DH.

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

If we're looking at cost, since the grocery total was $130, each individual meal cost $14.44.  If we look only at the Rainy Day Stew, our cost per serving is $1.31, which I find to be a fantastic number.  If you consider the amount you'll spend ordering a pizza or two, you can spend upwards of $5 per person on delivery pizza for one of those I don't want to cook days.

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

As I said, I'll keep updating as we go through a few more of the meals or at the end to talk about how we liked the meals.  For now, though, I'm really excited about the fact that I not only don't have to cook each day, but I don't have to worry about what each meal will be - it's already all planned out and sitting in my fridge/freezer.

Anyone want to take the 30 day Crock Pot Challenge with me?

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18 comments:

  1. Did you have to add flour to these? I would like to try it, but I didn't know if I could do it and still stay gluten free.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't have to add flour to any of the recipes so far, but I did have to add extra water or sauce to a few :)

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  2. I'm curious - are you rotating the 9 meals over the entire month? Or just making 9 large batches with leftovers?

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    Replies
    1. For most of these recipes {not including the pulled pork which is one large piece of meat or the rainy day stew where we cooked the full recipe in the crock pot on the day we went shopping} we divided each into two gallon freezer baggies. We've been cooking only one of the baggies at a time, making our total number times we have to use the crock pot at 16 for the month. Each of the 1/2 recipe frozen baggies' worth is lasting us roughly two days, so yes, it's over the entire month but rotated :)

      Did that make sense? Reading it back I'm not sure that made sense. Lol.

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    2. {That way, we're not eating the same thing for four days in a row, only two!}

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  3. This may have been assumed, but I didn't think of this until I read through all the links you put in your blog (and their links they put in their blogs...) so I wanted to share:
    "One reader suggested putting the dinners into crock pot liners and then into the freezer bag."
    Genius!! Like I said, I really would not have thought of that until I read it and maybe you put that in your blog already, but I missed it. I will post this same comment to your crockpot liner post, too.

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  4. Am I missing something? Where are the actual recipes for these meals?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The recipes are in the link directly underneath the first picture on the post! Since I was borrowing recipes from another blogger, I wanted to make sure that as a courtesy people who wanted the recipes had to visit her site - so I wasn't claiming them as my own :)

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    2. Okay, maybe it would have been easier to spot if I was on an actual computer and not my phone. Thank you for the realistic prices and the grocery list.

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  5. I can't see the shopping list from my computer?? Can you please email it to me?? mandycash@ymail.com

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  6. Hi Mandy! The shopping list is the second image in the post - if you right click on the image you should be able to click print from there! :) Let me know if you're still having trouble!

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  7. Where are the recipes??

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    Replies
    1. There is a link right above the list of recipes!

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  8. I'm confused. I dont see how this is costing so little. Was all the spices ect. Counted in the total.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. We did include spices in the total. It may depend on where you shop as to how much it costs you for the same items.

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  9. So do these recipes need to be doubled to be appropriate for a family of four?

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    Replies
    1. It depends on your family. My kids (ages 3 and 1) and I eat smaller servings, so these recipes were totally sufficient (even halved in some cases) for full meals for our family.

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