I’m not a person who loves to cook. I do it because it is what is best for my family, but it isn’t something I enjoy! I’d much rather be on my computer playing with scrapbooking stuff or knitting/crocheting. But every day I need to come up with at least one meal. I menu plan and use various tools but lately it’s been even harder and Hubs has been asked to “pick something up on the way home” more than I’d like to admit! Not good for our budget either!
Over the years I’ve tried Once a Month plans, freezer cooking, bulk cooking, etc. Recently I decided to try producing a bunch of freezer packets for my slow cooker. So I did a bit of research and found a couple at http://www.5dollardinners.com/ that appealed to me. All the products were from Costco and the meals themselves looked good too. Not having much experience with these menus, I bought the $5 version that came with videos and other helps. However, they are also available for $2.49 without a few of those things. Now that I’ve done it once, I see I could have gotten away with buying the $2.49 version. (FYI, I bought the Gluten Free version, but only because I thought the recipes looked good.)
So, I was determined to go yesterday even though I was homeschooling, working and Sissy only had a 1/2 day at school. Once I finally got out the door to do my shopping, it was 2pm. When I got to Costco and realized I didn’t have my list, drove back home and back to store, it was now 2:30. I was starting to wonder if I could do this.
A few items were cheaper at my Costco than the menu author’s but a few were more expensive too. Living in California, I am used to our grocery prices being higher. The menu author said she spent $161.96. My total was $185.16. Not bad. Of course, we could add another $20 to that amount as I also bought dinner for that evening as I knew I’d be too tired to cook. That was both a good and bad idea – more on that later.
Had to hit a 2nd store on way home to get a few small things like Coconut milk and rosemary. When I got home, I put all unrefrigerated all over my table. It was now 4:15 and I was getting started processing the ingredients. I don’t have a large kitchen but I made good use of all of my surfaces. I start chopping and slicing and soon I had bowls of various ingredients everywhere! I had potatoes in water in my sink, bowls of onions and peppers on the stove!
At 5pm, I put dinner in the oven and called my Hubs to come help. I was having serious misgivings about completing this, but it was too late to stop! With Eric’s help we assembled 19 meals. I ran out of chicken so next time I will buy more chicken than suggested. By 6:30 we were done and I was cleaning the kitchen. I was also exhausted! But I learned a lot!
To summarize, here is what I learned and what I need to do next time:
- Order in – don’t bake anything for dinner that night. Not a good idea to heat up the kitchen!
- Since I couldn’t find our clear packing tape to attach the ingredient/recipe list, we double-bagged our meals. We put the ingredients/recipe between the bags. The added benefit of this was that I’m not too worried about them leaking/spilling. I’ll do that again.
- Speaking of spilling….the last few recipes had more liquids in them than the first few. And, I was more tired so we had a couple of big messes. Next time I will put the bags into bowls as I’m assembling them to keep the mess to a minimum.
- I think next time I will shop in the morning, take a break and then prep the ingredients and assemble later in the day.
- Measurements. Yes, I know this is probably just MY issue as I’m a bit anal, but after I chop up 10 pounds of potatoes, putting 2 potatoes in a bag made me crazy. I have no idea if I put in enough or not. We’ll see I guess. But I think next time, I might do that part a bit differently. It may not bother you.
- Slow down & pay attention. I think I was simply moving too quickly and didn’t notice that I bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts but neglected to do same for thighs. 🙁 Oh well, I’ll deal with it on meal day, but hopefully I won’t do that again!
Overall, this was an exhausting but satisfying experience. Next time, I’ll go a bit slower, pace myself and possibly get some more help! 🙂 OH! And, 19 meals won’t fit in our freezer, luckily we have a 2nd freezer/refrigerator so we used some space there too. Just mention that if you want to do this but only have a traditional freezer.
Good luck and let me know if you have any good freezer to slow cooker recipes! I’m definitely doing this again!