Like most people I'm feeling all full of resolutions at this time of year. The halls have been undecked, the house is pretty well organized, and the kids started back to school today. It's time for a fresh start, and at the top of my list is making dinnertime simpler and healthier.
I've resolved to do it before with great success ... for a while. Then all of the activities start up, and the homework hammers us, and the birthday party circuit heats up, and all of a sudden I find myself in a frantic flurry where takeout seems like the only option. But this year, I have a plan, and it involves my Crock-Pot.
Over the past couple of years, I've become quite a fan of mine, but it still doesn't help on those days when I truly can't find even 10 minutes to shower. You still have to take time to chop and dice UNLESS you just pull a bag straight out of your freezer, put it in the slow cooker, and turn the thing on.
Brilliant, right? And no, it doesn't involve some processed food you get in the freezer section.
I met Stephanie Brandt Cornais of Mama and Baby Love at Mom 2.0 last summer, and she sent me a copy of her book Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes right in the midst of my resolution-making process. And it's a perfect tool to help me keep my resolution this year.
It includes a whole host of fresh, healthy meal recipes that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. Then on any given day, you just pop one in your Crock-Pot, and dinner is done. It does take a little preparation ahead of time, but if you set aside a couple of hours once or twice a month, you will save oodles of time, stress, and money spent on takeout meals later.
For example, here's her recipe for Orange Beef Stew. It's flavorful, delicious, and so much better than anything from a carton. She has everything in her book from soups and stews to fajitas and chicken dishes. She tells you how to prep and freeze everything, and with a little creativity, you can apply her method to your favorite slow cooker recipes too.
So I'm setting aside a least one night a month to stock my freezer like this. I'll crank up the music, maybe grab a glass of wine, and start chopping. I know I (and my family) will thank myself for it later.
Is this something that would help make your dinnertime simpler?
Image via Mama and Baby Love
by OliviaW.January 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM
I get ice on the cheese cause you can't vacuum out the air when you shred it but the rest of everything I've never had an issue with.
Thanks! I just started buying a lot in bulk and was noticing ice crystals on things so Im going to try this.
Normally I don't but much meat since we butcher our own beef but I buy chicken in bulk and just cut it and use the food saver to suck the air from it & freeze. I use it a bunch when I bake. My Dh loves homemade hot pockets so I use the machine for those when they're baked. I even buy cheese in bulk and then shred it and seal it in smaller portions (don't use the vacuum on it though). I can't remember the kind I got but it was a $40 take model from Walmart. It does keep foods fresh plus you can even microwave the bags if you wish. As long as the air gets vacuumed out there's no sign of burn.
I am thinking about getting a food saver but am afraid it will sit forever in the land of unused appliances. Does it really keep the food from getting freezer burn? Do you re-seal meats and frozen foods you buy at the store? Do you mind sharing what type you have?
I love my food saver. In the winter I get into a big baking and cooking kick and for certain meals I put them on a plate and use the food saver to vacuum out the air so during the summer if I don't feel like cooking we can just get whatever we want. I even seal soups and chili's using the food saver and just thaw and heat up in the crock pot.