I am one of those people, whom procrastination is one of my very best friends. I don’t like to have to plan ahead as to what we are going to have for dinner. Which of course conflicts with Crock-Pot cooking, however I get some weird satisfaction out of throwing something in a pot and then ignoring it for 8 hours 😉 . I decided with my day getting busier that I would just need to bite the bullet and do some major planning for a few hours, but have the luxury of then not having to do any planning, beyond pull out of freezer, defrost, pour into crock. I have chosen 10 recipes that don’t take too much chopping or pre cooking, and the vast majority of the ingredients are rather common, and often you will already have them. These are not super expensive meals, with the majority of the money being spent on fresh meat and many of them are ones that you don’t have to be exact in what your putting in or how much. That is really the beauty of Crock-Pot Cooking, when it’s okay if I have a little bit less broth, or not quite 2 pounds of meat, and it still turns out great.
What I first did, was get 10 different sticky notes, and write on them the title of the recipe, and what ingredients I needed to put in the ziploc bag.
Next I used good quality freezer bags and with a sharpie, wrote out the instructions I would need to cook in the crock. How long to cook it, with both Low and High lengths on the bag if applicable, or the desired length with Low and High if it was better for that dish. If I needed to add anything, or if it needed to be mixed or put into the crock a certain way. Those 2 steps took me about an hour to get done.
Next I needed a large area to not only gather ingredients, but to chop and measure as needed. My home has a kitchen and a dining room, with the table in that dining room, and I don’t have a plethora of counter space. I decided it would be easiest for me to assemble the meals on my kitchen table. I brought in all of my measuring spoons and cups, cutting board and a couple of knifes and a bowl to dump the dirty dishes into.
I laid each ziploc bag out, with it’s corresponding sticky note.
The two things I chose not to do at my dining room table was raw meat, and large amounts of liquid. I would do those in the kitchen one by one, before placing them in the freezer. With the help of my 11 year old daughter, we assembled each meal placing each ingredient right into the bag (with the exception of the meatloaf recipe as that really needs to be mixed first). My daughter was also able to brown the hamburger while I was measuring and chopping. If I was to do it myself, I would start with cooking the hamburger to get that out of the way. I also purchased the night before, and kept all of the dry ingredients in bags not put away, so to start up would be easier. I only used fresh meat for these recipes that had not been frozen before. When we freeze, defrost, freeze, defrost meat a few times, it tends to make the meat much more dry, so I wanted to avoid that problem. I also used vinyl gloves to handle all meat, so I didn’t have to wash my hands 10 separate times. I would grab chicken, place in ziploc, take off gloves, place bag in freezer (closed with as much air as possible removed), and then put on new gloves for the next meat.
A couple of the recipes involve a lot of water or broth, I poured that in last. There were several ingredients that don’t freeze well for this (Barely and Rice), so I purchased them and labeled them in my cupboard so no one used them, until they have been added to the crock or meal. The meatloaf I mixed all in a bowl, wearing the gloves, and then placed it into the ziploc bag.
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