Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monthly Crock Pot Freezer Cooking Version #2!

Slow Cooker Meal Planning Recipes

Our first month of crock pot freezer cooking went so well that DH and I decided to do it again this month - with a second month of fantastic results!  Here's how month #2 went:

First things first, here's our grocery list:

Slow Cooker Recipes Meal Planning

We spent right around $130 again for this month's dinners.  Outside of our monthly date night and one night of ordering pizza, we ate all of our dinners from the crock pot.  So - for our family of four - that means we spent under $4.50 per dinner, which I find to be fantastic.

This month, we did a few new recipes and a few older recipes.  I'll list the titles of all of the meals first, and then go into each recipe separately.  I will purposefully be omitting photos until after the recipes so that if you're copying and pasting to print- you won't have to mess with deleting out the pictures to save paper.  Without further ado, here are the recipe titles:

1.  Pulled Pork
2.  Lemon Garlic Chicken
3.  Pork Chili
4.  Sweet & Sour Garlic Chicken
5.  Creamy Chicken Stew
6.  Vegetable Lasagna
7.  Sweet Potato Soup
8.  Honey Garlic Chicken
9.  Beef Sandwiches with Aioli

And here are the recipes:

1. Pulled Pork


Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • Pork shoulder 4-5 lbs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Pork Rub if desired
  • BBQ Sauce

Instructions

  1. Cover roast in pork rub.
  2. Slice onion
  3. Layer onion on the bottom of the crock pot, place the roast on top.  Add chicken broth.
  4. Cook on low 8-10 hours.  

2. Lemon Garlic Chicken {this was a repeat from last month}


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts {boneless, skinless}
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1 package cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Mix oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Rub the mixture into the chicken.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken for 3-5 on each side.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.
  2. Mix water, lemon juice, garlic, and bouillon and bring it to a boil - pour over the chicken in the slow cooker.  {We skipped all of the browning steps and just put all of the ingredients into the bag to freeze and then dumped the whole bag into the crock pot when it was defrosted and we were ready for use.}
  3. 15 minutes before you're ready to serve, remove the chicken and put it on a serving platter.  Add the cream cheese to the juice in the crock pot and whisk until smooth.  Ladle the sauce over rice or pasta if desired and then put the chicken on top.

3. Pork Chili


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Coat the inside of a 4-6 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Lay onions on the bottom. Add in cubed pork, followed by garlic, beans, tomatoes, green chiles, lime juice, and spices. Stir to combine.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours. Stir in cilantro about 20 minutes before serving.

4. Sweet & Sour Garlic Chicken


Ingredients

  • 2lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cut into 6 fillets)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup diet lemon lime soda
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and place in slow cooker.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (all EXCEPT the cornstarch), and pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from slow cooker and pour all the leftover sauce into a medium sized sauce pan, and set over medium high heat.
  5. In a very small bowl, mix together the cornstarch with two tablespoons of water. Then, add that into the sauce. Bring to a simmer, and stir continuously until sauce begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for about 1-2 more minutes as the sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  6. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

5. Creamy Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 pound mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, rinsed under cold water to thaw
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fat free half and half
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, combine mushrooms, shallots, and 1/4 cup water.
  2. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add broth, celery, zucchini, carrots, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves; bring to a boil. {We skipped everything except for dumping all the ingredients into the freezer bag and then putting it into the crock pot when we were ready.}
  4. Place chicken in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker and sprinkle lemon zest on top. Turn heat to high. Carefully pour in the vegetable mixture. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a bowl; discard bay leaves.
  6. Skim fat and pour the juices into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced to 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened.
  8. Add half and half and lemon juice; stir until boiling.
  9. Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Just before serving, stir in peas and parsley.

6. Vegetable Lasagna


Ingredients

  • 15 (12oz) whole-wheat lasagna noodles uncooked
  • 1 15 oz container fat free ricotta
  • 3 cups shredded reduced fat mozzarella
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large portobello mushroom caps thinly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine egg substitute, ricotta, salt, pepper, oregano, spinach, mushrooms and eggplant.
  2. Mix both kinds of tomatoes and their juice, basil and garlic, in a medium bowl.
  3. Coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with non-fat cooking spray.
  4. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture in the slow cooker.
  5. Arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking into pieces to cover as much of the sauce as possible.
  6. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down, then spoon on 1 1/2 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.
  7. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles.
  8. Set aside the remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
  9. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours.
  10. Turn off the slow cooker, sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on the lasagna, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

7. Sweet Potato Soup
Ingredients:
- 2 cups fat-free chicken broth
- 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
- 2 packets Splenda or Truvia
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
NOTE: To make this into a vegetarian recipe, just use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
Directions:
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes. Place them with the chicken broth in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on medium for about 3 hours (or until the potatoes are tender).
Using an immersion blender (or putting the sweet potatoes and broth into a food processor), blend until smooth. Put the soup back into the crock pot. Add the half-and-half, Splenda, salt, dry mustard and allspice. Cover and cook on medium for about 1-3 hours.
8. Honey Garlic Chicken

Ingredients
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sprite
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to freezer bag.  When you're ready to cook, put all ingredients in the crock pot, add the sprite, and let cook for 3-4 hours on high.

9. Beef Sandwiches with Aioli


Ingredients

  • One 2 1/2 to 3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 Kaiser rolls or buns
  • 1 recipe Avocado Aioli {mash 2 peeled avocados with a fork.  Stir in 2/3 cup finely chopped radishes, 2 tablespoons mayo or salad dressing, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove garlic minced, 2 teaspoons fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.}
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
***Note- we had several of the pantry staples already for the Aioli, so if you don't keep things like lemon juice, salt, pepper, mayo, oregano, etc. - you may need to add these to your list!

Instructions

  1. Trim fat from meat and add salt and pepper as desired.  Place in cooker {cutting to fit if needed}.  Add onion, water, Worcestershire, oregano, and garlic.
  2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  Remove and shred meat.  Serve on rolls with shredded lettuce and Aioli.

After completing this second month of crock pot freezer cooking, DH and I are completely convinced that we're going to continue this method of dinner preparation for the long term.  It is saving us money, time, and energy each day.  Our family is eating many, many more homemade meals and significantly fewer processed foods.

Slow Cooker Recipes

Our next step after this month's crock pot meals is to start doubling our recipes and cook for multiple months at a time.  For the past two months, we've prepared one month of meals at a time.  But for the next few months, we'd like to take a few recipes that we know we already love and either double or triple them, plus add in some new single meal recipes.  That way - since we have a deep freezer - we can store quite a few meals and have to only prep one day per every few months for ALL of our dinners.

Has anyone else switched to crock pot freezer cooking for their dinners?


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6 comments:

  1. Do you prepare all the meals in one day? If so, what is your method to prepare them all with your little ones? Do you add the pasta and other things after you make the rest in the crock pot? How do you know which meals will freeze okay? Do things like zucchini and such taste okay after being frozen? Sorry for all of the questions, I think this is such a great idea and would love to try it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do prepare all in one day! Typically we start as soon as the kids go down for a nap, and then when someone wakes I tend to the kids while DH finishes. We've added pasta before we put it in the slow cooker and it doesn't taste as good, so unless it's lasagna, we add the pasta at the end. We haven't had any specific foods that haven't done well in the slow cooker so far!

      Delete
  2. I'm curious how the lasagna works, do you freeze these components separately?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do the lasagna as our first meal, and make that as soon as we get home from the grocery - that lasts us for a good 3+ days :)

      Delete
  3. I have got to do this, such a great idea

    ReplyDelete

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