Jan 25, 2014

Freezer Crockpot Meals

So you can call me crazy or insane and some of you thought we'd never do it - but on our day off for MLK day - we prepped and put into freezer bags 36 meals that we froze and can pull out at anytime post-baby arrival to just toss into the crock pot.

First and foremost - shout out to the blog Who Needs a Cape? (or OP for "original poster") for compiling the master recipe and shopping list that put everything together - because wow, I couldn't have done it without her first posting it. If you would like to see her master shopping list, all of her links are on her page!

I will break down into sections so it's easy to follow

Tips and adjustments I made (more detail provided later)
- This is absolutely a two-person job. I mean maybe non-preg me could have done it solo - but I highly suggest two people
- The master shopping list that the OP provides includes enough for two of EVERYTHING; however, some stuff is already doubled/tripled but it is NOT indicated what is and what isn't
- I will provide you my master shopping for list for the ability to make 36 meals
   15 of the recipes made twice, 2 recipes made 3 times because of left over pork
- If you forgo my list and use hers, you will absolutely 100% not need the amount of onions called for. Of the 12 white and 4 red onions - we used 5 white and 2 red.
- I did not buy thighs and drumsticks, I instead used 40 lbs of chicken breasts
- Reserve an entire day for shopping and preparing or two half days (what we did)

-Print out all the recipes (sorry environmentally friendly people).
Why? Your hands will get gross from touching raw meat and people all of this stuff together - I am glad that none of my electronics were in the room (except the iPad for jams) because I would not have wanted to click through each recipe
- Print out the master shopping list
Cross compare to ensure you have all the appropriate supplies, remove any item you choose not to cook with (like me, jalapenos) and pull out any items you already have in the house
- If you have a specific time-frame you are saving these meals for (e.g., post-baby) try and start planning like a month or so out, so you can scour sales.
- If you don't belong to a BJs or Sam's Club, find a friend who does - you'll think me for the large amounts of meat you will need to purchase
- Break out a list of how the different types of veggies will be chopped (eg, 3 white onions slices, 2 white onions chopped)
Why is my mater shopping list different? 
(1) I forgot to print out the Teriyaki Chicken recipe and therefore all the ingredients I purchased for it...were returned
(2) We are boneless/skinless chicken wing/drumstick people and it was to pricey to buy all of that, so instead we substituted chicken breasts instead
- Before your big day, pull out the freezer bags and label them (use a permanent marker)
On each freezer bag I wrote the name of the recipe, the date the food would be frozen, temp/length in crockpot, any miscellaneous directions so you don't have to look up the recipe again later or if it has a suggestion of what to serve with.
For example, "Chicken Tacos. 1/20/14. If frozen, high for 6 hours - if not, should cook in less time. Shred chicken and place back in crock pot for last 30 minutes. Serve on tortillas with sour cream, cheese, etc..."

                                         8 lbs of stew meat

40 lbs of chicken!

Knife and cutting board for raw meat
Knife and cutting board for veggies 
Permanent marker 
Gallon freezer bags
Perfect Portions bags
Measuring cups (we used 1,1 cup and 1, 4 cup) < if you have more, break it out
Tablespoons < if you have more than one, break it out
About 6 or 7 giant mixing bowls for the veggies 
Separate table to put all the food on 

The Big Day
- Like I said before, do you this with a partner - it will make life easier 
- OP suggested doing all the meat first, and then all the veggies; however, I decided to go recipe-by-recipe. Which I am thankful I did - because we followed her master shopping list and we would have wasted returnable items because we didn't have enough meat
- While I was going recipe-by-recipe (see below), my hubs took the list I had written about what veggies get "what" done to them and how much, and chopped all of those up. 
    At this point I realized I had over purchased for just the onions
- Going recipe-by-recipe:
  I prepped two freezer bags per recipe
  I placed the meat in the perfect portions bag, then into the freezer bag and then placed the rest of the ingredients inside the freezer bag
  Some people do not mind the mixing of the raw meat and other items because you are going to freeze it regardless - but I had the perfect portion bags, so I opted to use them.
  After placing all the ingredients, I "squeezed" air and sealed it closed and then brought it to my dining room table (that had a towel on it)

36 Meals what what!

So I have no freezer space left?

You can find the Master Crockpot Shopping list that I used, along with a suggestion of Pantry Items if you click here.
PS - the items for the teriyaki chicken are not included 

Recipe List:
Pesto Chicken (only do the chicken part of this recipe)
Ranch Chicken Tacos (added: one pack of ranch dressing mix per mix)
Green Chile Pork Stew (tripled & did not use jalapeños) 
Easy Pulled Pork (tripled)
Teriyaki Chicken (this looks delicious, but I forgot to print out the recipe and therefore, didn't make it)

*Some of the recipes above don't have specific crockpot instructions -- you can cook them on low for 6-8 hours

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