7.15.2012

Crock Pot Craziness!!

For the past few weeks, like any expectant mother, I have been thinking about doing some prep work and planning ahead for when the baby arrives.  One of the ideas that I had was to plan out, shop for and prepare some crock pot meals that can be frozen then thawed and cooked with little time or effort on my part.  I spent some time browsing around online and found a few websites for inspiration.  My initial plan was to select several recipes, prepare a shopping list with all of the ingredients we will need then go from there.  However, since Kevin and I pretty much never cook from a recipe, we scrapped that idea and decided to just wing it.

Before I go any farther, I have to say that I have the absolute most awesome husband in the world.  When I told him about my plan, he was all about it and jumped in head first to help.  So... we made our plans for Saturday (mind you, we only get one out of every 6 weekends off together and this weekend was our last weekend off together before the baby arrives)... and Operation MakeAShitloadOfCrockpotMeals was born.  :)

Saturday morning, we went to the local farmer's market and stocked up on as many fresh veggies are we could.  Unfortunately, the selection wasn't too great this weekend, so we didn't end up with much.  I would love to buy our meats and such from the market, but the price is just unreasonable.  :(  

 So... next up was BJs (Similar to Sams Club or Costco)

We loaded up on meats- bought a HUGE beef chuck roast and pork roast, then asked to have them cut into smaller roasts and stew size pieces (less work for us later!).  We got 2 large packages of boneless skinless chicken, a large package of ground beef and a large package of hot sausage.  

We needed more vegetables, since the farmer's market wasn't so hot this week.  We were torn on what kind (fresh vs frozen) of veggies to get, but ended up going with frozen... less hassle/prep and BJ's prices were great on their organic bulk frozen veggies.

Last up, we bought a handful of popular spices/seasonings in bulk (Ranch dressing mix, Onion soup mix, Italian seasoning, BBQ seasoning/sauce) as well as a few marinades, everything else we had at home.

The prep...
When we got home, I began labeling gallon size Ziploc freezer bags and making index cards for each meal with the ingredients and the recipe.  I highlighted anything we will need to buy later.

Meanwhile, DH prepped all of the veggies that were not frozen (potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic), then put all veggies (fresh and frozen) in their own individual bowl.

Finally, we started preparing the bags.  DH worked on the meat, then I went through with a measuring cup and scooped the veggies into the bags.  Last, we added any necessary seasoning and sealed the bags.  Dropped them into the freezer and... voila!!  We were able to make 36 meals out of our ingredients, several of them large enough to yield seconds for sure.  I must say, we are quite proud of ourselves.  :)

The finished products!!  36 meals!!

I did a price breakdown,and the total came to about $200...

I did use several ingredients that I had in my pantry already (olive oil, hot sauce, different seasonings, etc) that I didn't account for... 
 
Also, a few of the meals will require some sort of dairy to be added prior to serving, but it makes no sense to buy it now because it will spoil before we need it.  We will just buy these as we need them.  As such, I did not account for this in the total, but it shouldn't add more than $10-$15.

Also, several of the meals will be served with pasta, rice or bread... which I also did not account for.  We have a ridiculous pasta/rice stash and will buy the bread as we need it.  These were not factored into the total, but shouldn't add more than $10-$15.

 That said, all in all I think the grand total is probably closer to $6/meal.

Below is the price breakdown and a list of the meals I made... If you are interested in any recipes, let me know.  They are all super super easy!!

We are soooooo very glad we did this today.  Not only did we take one hassle away from the hectic transition to parenthood and save a boatload of money... but it was actually a really fun day with the hubby.  Win win!!

Price Breakdown...

Meat:
Ground Beef: $2.75/lb, approximately 6 lbs- total $16.56
Beef Roast: $2.99/lb, approximately 15 lbs- total $45.60
Pork Loin: $2.49/lb, approximately 8 lbs- total $20.10
Boneless skinless chicken breast: $1.89/lb, approximately 11.5 lbs- total $21.90
Hot Italian Sausage: $2.99/lb, approximately 3 lbs, total- $9.12

Veggies:
Potatoes: $4.69 for 10 lbs (only used half, so $2.35)
Carrots: $5.58 for 6 lbs
Broccoli: $6.59
Corn: $6.39
Green Beans: $5.99
Peppers & Onions: $5.99
Peas: $6.39
Canned diced tomatoes: $5.39 for 8 cans
Canned tomato sauce: $6.59 for 12 cans
Onion: 3 at 3 for $1.00
Garlic: 3 at 3 for $2.00

Seasonings and Marinades:
Onion Soup Mix:  $3.49 for 12 packets (only used 2/3, so $2.33)
Italian dressing: $2.99
Ranch Dressing Mix: $2.99 for 4 packets
Basil & Garlic: $4.99
Various seasoning packets: 6 at $1.00/each- total $6.00
General Tso Marinade: $4.19
Teriyaki Marinade $1.99
Soy Sauce: $1.00

Ziploc Bags- Gallon Freezer- $11.99- $3.00 coupon (used ¼, so $2.25)

Total:  195.27
 Meals
  1. Sausage with Peppers and Onions with sauce 
  2. Sausage with Peppers and Onions without sauce
  3. General Tso Chicken
  4. General Tso Chicken
  5. Crack Chicken
  6. Italian Herb Chicken
  7. Chicken Fajitas 
  8. Chicken with Corn and Black Beans 
  9. Teriyaki Chicken
  10. Jerk Chicken
  11. Chicken-n-Dumplings 
  12. Chicken Noodle Soup
  13. Brown Sugar Bourbon Chicken 
  14.  Beef Stroganoff
  15. Beef Stroganoff 
  16. Beef Stew
  17. Beef Stew 
  18. Extra Veggie Beef Stew
  19. Savory Beef Roast 
  20. Italian Style Beef Roast 
  21. Asian Beef and Broccoli 
  22. Spicy Tomato Beef Roast 
  23. 3 Envelope Beef Sliders
  24. Philly Cheese Steak
  25. Dino BBQ Pulled Pork
  26. Paula Deen Pulled Pork
  27. Savory Pork Roast 
  28. Creamy Ranch Pork Roast
  29. Asian Pork Roast 
  30. Spicy Asian Pork Strips
  31. Hawaiian Luau Pork
  32. Beef Tacos
  33. Spicy Ranch Burgers
  34. Meat and Pepper Sauce (for Spaghetti/Ziti)
  35. Meat and Pepper Sauce (for Spaghetti/Ziti)
  36. Meat and Pepper Sauce (for Spaghetti/Ziti)