Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crock Pot Packs

A couple of weeks ago I saw an idea going around Pinterest that looked interesting, make ahead crock pot meals.  I liked it!  I love using the crock pot, it's almost like someone else made dinner, and I often cook things like spaghetti sauce and soup in big batches to put some in the freezer.  So I decided to give it a go.

First stop, gather the ingredients.  I started with recipes from a couple of different sites (although I never follow recipes exactly, these are pretty close to what I did).

I made a total of 5 different recipes from these two sites:

I made Teriyaki ChickenHealthy Mama BBQ Chicken, Peppers & Sausage, Beef Fajita, and Cilantro Lime Chicken. (These all link to the blogs where the recipes are, you'll have to scroll down each page to the right spot.)

Next it was time to do the prep.  This is the step that makes this worthwhile.  It took me about an hour and a half to wash, peel and chop everything, which is quite a while, but now I don't have to do that each time I want to start a meal in the slow cooker.

It took about another hour to make sauces and assemble the bags.  Regardless of the recipes (told you I didn't follow them exactly!) I did not add any of the meat. I just put in the veggies, sauces and seasonings for each meal into a ziplock freezer bag and labeled each.

I use our meat, of course, so that means no boneless, tasteless chicken breasts, but the recipes work great with whole or half chickens in the crock pot. It just means that when you serve them you're pulling the meat off the bones.  (We usually just do it as we eat, but you could bone the chicken and put the meat back in the pot before you serve.)

Finally, the clean up.  It looked bad, but really only took about half an hour.  All together I prepared 10 meals in about 3 hours.  That works out to about 18 minutes per home-made, veggie-filled, processed-food-free meal!  It takes just a few minutes to put the meal in the slow cooker and dinner time clean up is easy too, just one pot.

This is definitely an experiment I'll repeat!