In reading some other blog posts, a couple ladies had said that they weren't happy with recipes they had used that had a lot of veggies in them (like stews with potatoes, or ones that added frozen broccoli, etc). They said that all the veggies were mushy and tasted the same at the end. That sounded like it was probably true, so I looked for recipes that were mainly meat with sauces. There were a couple I chose that had carrots added, and I also never have a problem with using onions in the crockpot, so I didn't exclude those. Two of the recipes I chose called for frozen broccoli, so I bought it, but I didn't put it in the bag with the rest of the meal. I'm planning on adding the frozen broccoli to the crockpot for the last half hour, so that it'll be cooked but hopefully not mushy and gross. I ended up going with 10 different recipes. I had planned on making 2 of each meal but, because of the amount of meat I had purchased, I was able to triple 2 of the meals, so I ended up with a total of 22 meals. The recipes I went with were Teriyaki Chicken, Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks (I made 3 of this one), Mongolian Beef, Beef Stroganoff, Honey Sesame Chicken, Black Bean Taco Soup, Chicken Alfredo, Maple Dijon Chicken, Cilantro Lime Chicken, and Marinated and Baked Pork Chops (I made 3 of this one also and it's the only one that doesn't go in the crockpot).
To start, I pulled out the ziploc bags and, on each bag, wrote down the name of the recipe, the date it was made, and the cooking instructions. (I don't have a picture of that.)
Then I got out every single ingredient I was going to need and put them all out on my kitchen table.
I started by prepping the veggies. I cut up all the onions; some called for large slices, some chopped, some diced fine. Since I'm a little OCD about things like that, I had to divide them all up on my cookie sheet lol. I also cut up the green peppers that were going into the chicken alfredo meal.
After that, I started prepping the meat. I washed and dried all the chicken breasts and drumsticks, got all the pork chops out of their packaging, and cooked the ground beef with the onions for the taco soup. Then I went through each recipe and put the correct amount of meat into each bag. Because our family is large, I put in a little more meat than was called for in each recipe (if it said 1.5 lbs of chicken, I put 2). I also made a little more sauce for each recipe (I didn't double them, but multiplied by 1.5).
After I had the meat in the bags, I added the veggies (fresh and canned). Here are all the bags with veggies and meat added.
The next step was to make the sauces. Somehow this took me SO much longer than I thought it would. My printer is broken, so I couldn't print up the recipes. I had my laptop on the kitchen counter with all the recipes pulled up and would have to keep going over to it to check the measurements, so that might have taken up some more time than necessary. I mixed up each sauce, poured it into the bag, sealed the bag, rinsed out the bowl, then started on the next sauce. The only bag I had a problem with was the pork chop bag. I was using bone-in pork chops and, I don't know if I had a particularly sharp bone or what, one of the chops tore a small hole in the bag. I just made up a new bag and double-bagged those ones. Once I had all my sauces made and my meals bagged up, I was done!
I took pictures of them all individually (but in the interest of space am leaving those pictures out) and then carried them down to my deep freezer. I have them all laying flat so they won't take up a lot of room. I plan on pulling them out of the freezer the night before using them and putting them into the fridge to defrost. Some people had said you can put them straight from the freezer into the crockpot, and I'm sure you can, but I'm a little concerned that stuff might stick to the bag. Then I'll put them in the crockpot that morning and we'll have dinner ready when we get home from our games that night. A lot of them are supposed to be served over rice, but I also have a rice cooker that I can set to cook before we leave the house. Then when we get home, while the girls are putting away all their stuff, I can steam/sauté some veggies or throw together a quick salad, and we'll have our meal ready to go!
To recap, I made 22 meals for about $6.75 each in a total of about 4.5 hours (5 with the cleanup afterwards). I really was happy with these results (and I bet I could put them together even faster next time)!
Just so you know, I haven't actually tried any of these recipes yet, so I can't swear that they're all good, but they look good and they've got to better than cereal, right? I'll post an update as we go through the meals and let you guys know what we thought of each one. If anyone has any questions, let me know and I'll answer as best as I can. And if you decide to do it too, I'd love to see what you make!