One huge difference between college and post-grad life, is the amount of free time you have. In college, the only thing scheduled were my classes- lunch was on the go and dinner was decided with my best friends an hour before time to eat. We would go out to eat a couple of times a week, cook a supper-club style meal together or simply snack around.
Now that I am working, spending my own money and trying to live life as a
normal organized human, I knew I needed a nightly dinner plan that didn’t revolve around texting my best friend at 4:30. I have always loved Crockpot meals, and on nights I ate with my family or girlfriends we cooked a lot in the slow cooker. My mom freezer cooks, or cooks larger recipes and divides them into freezer safe containers for cooking at a later date. This is so simple and makes it just as easy to cook your own dinner as it is to hit up the drive through. The thing about Crockpot meals though, is that they are designed to feed a family, ravenous sports team or nomadic rock band. I didn’t want to waste food by cooking too much so I set out with a plan. Use my tiny 1.5 quart slow cooker, quart sized freezer bags and a little math eye-ball dividing to prep meals for a few weeks.
This is the slow cooker I have (I love copper for kitchen things- and found this for $7.99 on Black Friday!) I also ordered a digital lamp timer so I could set the cooker to turn on after I leave for for work- I’m at work for nine hours which is just too long for slow cooker recipes usually. You could run home at lunch time or get a cheap lamp timer from any home improvement store- I ordered mine off Amazon, $14 for two digital timers.
Now, on to the recipes. I wanted to do easy, somewhat healthy, recipes that used overlapping ingredients or overlapping side items. I spent about $65 on groceries (including some pantry staples like spices, oil, and canned items because I was starting from an empty kitchen). If you have a decently stocked pantry you could probably do these for $50. I made a total of 17 bagged meals.
On sale, I bought four large chicken breasts , that I cut in half to make 8 chicken meals, a large pack of pork chops that I used to make 6 pork meals, and a bag of frozen meatballs that I used to make 3 italian meals.
(I’m a baby but raw chicken totally grosses me out!)
These are the meals I made, recipes to follow (some are too easy to even call recipes!)
- Sesame Chicken
- Salsa Chicken
- Mojo Chicken
- Barbecue Pulled Pork
- Smothered Porkchops
- Meatball Marinara
- Prep meat first
- Fold down the top of bag to keep the seal clean
- Place bag in cup or bowl to make filling easier
- Squish air out of bag before sealing
- Lay flat to freeze
- The cooking time is really tricky, because all crockpots cook differently depending on size and brand. About 6-7 hours on low is what works for me.
- Two chicken breast halves cut into bite sized pieces
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 5 TBS ketchup
- 5 TBS dried onion
- 2 TBS oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Mix the sauce together, divide in half into quart sized bags and place half the chicken breast pieces in each. After cooking mix 2 TBS cornstarch with 3 TBS water and pour into crockpot. Cook for an additional 30 minutes until sauce thickens- I’m lazy and so sometimes I take my crock out of the pot and put it in the microwave to thicken the sauce.
Recipe found here
There is probably enough sauce to do three chicken breast halves with this, your call. Serve over rice and with steamed broccoli.
- 10 oz Mojo sauce (I used Winn Dixie brand)
- 3 chicken breast halves
Divide the Mojo sauce into thirds and place a chicken breast half in each bag. Serve with yellow rice and black beans.
- 3 chicken breast halves
- 1 jar salsa – I used medium Picante style
- 1 can corn
- 1 can black beans
Divide the chicken into three bags. Divide salsa, corn and black beans evenly and pour over chicken. Serve over rice or lettuce.
recipe found here
Barbecue Pulled Pork
- 3 pork chops
- half a bottle of BBQ sauce- any kind
- optional- 3/4 cup of cola.
Place pork chops, divided barbecue sauce and 1/4 cup of cola in each bag. Pull apart with two forks after cooking. I’ll serve this with a veggie and hash brown casserole I froze and cut into pieces and placed in individual bags. You can serve on a roll as a sandwich or alone.
Smothered Pork Chops
- 3 pork chops
- 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
- 1 envelope onion soup mix powder
Mix soup and onion soup powder, divide into thirds and pour over pork chops in three bags. Serve with rice, egg noodles or potatoes.
(this isn’t so much a recipe as a way to not waste large jars of spaghetti sauce)
- 1 bag mini meatballs, 25-30 count
- 1 jar marinara sauce
Divide meatballs and pasta sauce into three bags. Serve over pasta with salad, parmesan cheese and bread or as a sandwich.
I had plenty of ingredients left over for more meals, so my cost per meal will be lower next go round.