I posted this picture on facebook and it got quite the response.
Pretty much, it affirmed to me that moms are worn out by 4:00pm (like me!) yet want to get a delicious and healthy meal on the table. Our family eats dinner together around the table pretty much every night so we can talk and catch up and feel connected. It is important to the well-being of our family.
Since we started homeschooling, dinner time has become more difficult. As my oldest begins 1st grade, the workload increased exponentially over kindergarden and yet I still want a yummy, good-for-us dinner on the table every night.
Too much to ask? Maybe.
Still doable? Definitely.
In about five hours time (I will explain in a second why it would probably take you less time), I chopped my way to 16 crockpot meals that will feed my family well for the coming month or two. When I consider I can spend a hour fixing dinner every night, this saves me around 11 hours of time! Most of these meals merely need rice cooked or a quick salad to be complete. Easy.
Here’s how I did it:
Gather recipes and make a monster list.
Check produce and meat prices for all local grocery stores’ weekly ads. Make a list of all the best prices to use for price-matching at Walmart. For Las Vegas, I always check prices for Food4Less, Smith’s, Vons, Albertsons, (since those come in the mail) and then look online for Cardenas, BuyLow and Marketon. Those last three usually give me my major steals on produce and Mexican food items like avocados and cilantro and tomatoes. Worth a few more minutes to look at their ads!
For instance, last week when I freezer cooked, the majority of my vegetables were on sale. Score! Green bell peppers 20 cents each, zucchini 20 cents/#, white onions 20 cents/#, celery 33 cents each, and cauliflower $1.00 each. (Just as a side note, avocados were 17 cents each so I bought 10! Did you know you can freeze them?) I could have saved even more if I had picked up chicken and beef on sale weeks.
Shop! Like I mentioned above, I save tons on groceries each week by price-matching at Walmart. I know, I know. Most people have their complaints and jokes about shopping at Walmart, but I am not above saving tons of money just to shop at a fancier store. I’d rather save that money to spend on a nice dinner out with my man or toward our next adoption!
Go alone so you can think and shop wisely. You don’t want to forget anything!
Prep freezer bags by labeling with the name of what is inside, plus all cooking instructions or additions for the dinner. There is no way to know sure what it is once it’s frozen, so this is essential. Plus, you will be glad you don’t have to hunt down the recipe to find the instructions when it’s time to heat it.
Get to work. Put on some good music and get out the cutting board and knives. I went vegetable by vegetable, chopping 2c of carrots for all a recipe’s bags, then chopping 1c per bag for another. Once I was done with carrots, I moved on. It seemed to streamline the process since I wasn’t going back and forth between vegetables.
Next, I cut up meat and added to the bags, followed by any other random ingredients or spices. The reason I think you might be able to do this much quicker is raw chicken is absolutely disgusting to me. I spend way too much time trimming off any fat or whiteness on the chicken pieces before putting them in the bag.
The big finish! Zip the bags, pushing out as much air as possible. Lay them flat on cookie sheets (or on top of pizza boxes) to freeze thoroughly. I also label any ingredients I need to add when heating with “crockpot” so I won’t accidentally use them for another recipe in the meantime. It can be so frustrating to start making a dinner and realize I am out of something important.
Clean up. I try to put away as I go… once I finish up a spice or ingredient, the rest goes back to its home in the cabinet or fridge. My man is amazing. He stepped right up once he knew I was done and told me to go get ready for bed while he cleaned up the rest. Can I tell you how much I love that guy?
Now for the recipes so you can plan your trip! I made 2-4 of each recipe that added to 16.
Be sure to buy enough gallon-sized freezer bags!
Hoping for many smoother evenings as the school year starts. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!