Freezer Cooking for One

CoverCrock

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.

Slow Cooker

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.

Chicken

(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

General tips:

  • 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.

Fill

Sesame Chicken:

  • 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.

Sesame

Mojo Chicken:

  • 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.

Salsa Chicken:

  • 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

Salsa

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.

BBQ

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.

Meatballs Marinara

(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.

Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 11.36.17 AM

 

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31 thoughts on “Freezer Cooking for One

  1. HI- how long is it safe to leave something in the crock before you start cooking it by using the lamp timer? The little crock I have has only a “high” temp, so that means even less cooking time than my big crock.

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  2. i feel really dumb but ive never done this before, do you thaw the bags and then cook or put the bag in there or??? im so confused

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  3. Thanks for including your crockpot brand and size. I looove crockpot dinners too but when I am cooking for just me, my 8 quart is just too big! I didn’t realize they made smaller ones. Off to the store I go! 🙂

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  4. Megan, I’m a librarian at a small town public library and I was wondering if I could have your permission to do a cooking class using recipes from your blog. There are many older people who are so used to cooking for a family that once they retire they basically stick to tator tots and more instantly gratifying but not so healthy foods. I was hoping to feature your blog for the program in order to attract the elderly population as well as the teens going off to college and recent graduates who may want some more ideas for how to cook by themselves. I personally have been using your recipes since moving to this town last month and I LOVE them! (Does your BBQ Pulled Pork tend to get dried out though? Mine does… I tried adding water last time but I accidentally added way too much. Hmm.) I also love that when I know someone is coming to visit, I can just pour two bags in and then I have two perfectly sized portions waiting when I get off work for my company and I to enjoy, along with a side.
    Please get back to me soon about the program, and if you have any ideas for it, I would love to hear them! I can give them the recipes as a handout with your blog address on them if you like, or whatever works best. I’m hoping to get enough interest after a first class to make it a regular thing, and I can start in on doing other freezer meals and just divide them out so they’re made for individuals, but I love how yours is already done and adjusted to have enough liquid for a single bag.

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  5. I am happy. someone finally came up with recipes for my mini crock pot. I would like to pass along a site that has baking recipes for one or two.people. cooks.com/mastermix specialrecipies it has a recipe for a bisquick type mix and further down is the recipes for smaller baking.

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  6. I just bought the lamp timer and a small crockpot (I found one in turquoise to match my kitchen, yippee)… what a GREAT idea!!! I work full time, and with the commute and everything, I am usually gone about 10 hours – and every time I cook with my big crockpot, I end up with about 8 servings of over done food that I try and force myself to eat for a few days because of the money I spent in groceries – then I end up throwing half of it away. I am SO excited to try this… and actually have wholesome dinners and variety! I am so excited to check out the rest of your stuff!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

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  7. I am elderly now and live alone since my husband dies. I am looking forward to trying this as cooking has become a chore that I no longer enjoy.

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  8. My son just bought a house and is on his own now… This. Is. Awesome! Thank you. I am making them all. I hope you post more. I will have to get on your blog…..

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  9. My Father is 89 years old and only cooks in his microwave. I was looking for “complete” meals I could make and freeze for him. Do you have any ideas? Thank you!

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  10. I definitely will be following and cooking your meals. I am elderly and live alone and hate to cook meals and have to throw out food. Thanks, thanks. Keep the recipes coming.

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  11. HA! You are NOT a baby! I love chicken… cooked and I never have to touch the slimy. AND bone-in chicken will never be let in my house no matter how deep discount the sale was! Love the smaller portions. I can’t wait to try these out!

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  12. Wanted to leave a ‘thank you’ for this – I just sent my mom a 1.5 quart Crock Pot in the mail for Christmas and sent her the link to your blog. She’s newly widowed and is learning how to manage the day-to-day tasks of living alone. So glad you took the time to share this with the world! 🙂

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