Monday, September 3, 2012

Once a Month Shopping, Episode 1: Crockpot Cooking

Welcome to the first edition of Once a Month Shopping on Menu-Plan Mondays!

I have been shopping once a week ever since my husband and I got married, three years ago.  With three kids in the house and multiple other obligations I started wondering if there was an easy way to cut back on trips to the store.  Walmart with two kids under two is NOT the most fun experience I can think of!  So from my idea I developed a plan.  I reorganized my pantry (pictured in last week's post) to include areas for four weeks of recipe ingredients.  Last month was my first official month on my new plan.  I selected random recipes that looked good, made a list, and went shopping.  Some meals were prepped and frozen, others the ingredients just put away.  It was a fantastic month, and --BONUS-- we shaved about $150 off our monthly budget by not being at the store every week picking up unnecessary items! 

This month, I am focusing completely on crock pot cooking.  All of the meals that will be used this month will be prepped, put into freezer bags, and frozen until the night before I plan to cook them.  Most of these are our adapted versions of recipes I have found all over the place and changed to suit our needs.  All of the recipes that will be used here make two meals for a family of four unless otherwise noted.

Step 1: Make a list of meals
List of Meals:
"YakaYaki" Chicken (as Silas says)
Stew's Stew (My husband's name is Stewart)
Yummy Chicken
Cheater Meatballs
Sausage 'n' Peppers
Baby Steps Beef Tips
Need-a Fajita
Pot Roast....just Pot Roast
Fiesta Chicken
Chicken Sortavera
Pepper Steak (the hubby's favorite)
Chicken Cacciatori
Taco Soup
Valencia Paella (from Momma and Baby Love's ecookbook)
Au Ju Hungry?

Print a copy of the recipes here.

Each recipe makes two separate meals. I prep these and freeze them all in one day. I start by chopping veggies and adding them to their corresponding bags. Then, add your meat. Next add your other ingredients. Squeeze out any extra air and lay flat to freeze.

When you are ready to use the meal, just set them out the night before to thaw and throw them in the crock pot!
Either use fresh meat to freeze or keep your meat frozen during the prep. Never thaw and refreeze raw meat.
Step 2: Make a grocery list
I'm going to let you make your own grocery list from the menus because you may not want to use all of my recipes at once or you may have some items already at your house like I did.

Step 3: Label Your Bags
Put the name of the dish on your bag along with prep instructions and serving suggestions.  I have included these on my recipe cards. I write on the bag the name and what I have listed under Cooking Directions.

Step 4: Chop All Vegetables
Dice, chop, slice, mince, strip, all veggies and add them to their corresponding bags.

Step 5: Add Meats
If the recipe calls for browned meat, I recommend browning it before step 4 so it can cool enough to not melt the bag.  Otherwise, toss all your meats into their corresponding bags.

I made hubby do it  :o)

Step 6: Add all other ingredients
Throw in any seasonings, sauces, or herbs the recipe calls for.  Make sure you don't throw in things that are to be added the day of cooking.

I had a few bags that wouldn't seal, so I threw the recipe over into these awesome containers

Step 7: Let out air, seal, lay flat to freeze

Step 8: Sit back, relax, and know that dinner is only a crockpot away.....


  1. I can't wait to try this! What a good idea. I'm really enjoying your blog Stefanie!

  2. I'm so happy that you are enjoying it! Thank you for letting me know!

  3. Planning to have a freezer cooking day b4 baby comes! Thanks for the inspiration! Pinning for sure!

  4. How long do they keep in the freezer?

  5. Hi, Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. Quick question, so far, I made a batch of yakayaki chicken and a batch of caccitore chicken but forgot it's for 2 meals and froze everything in 1 bag. Can I freeze the left overs once cooked for the 2nd meal and just reheat slowly?

    1. Actually it is never recommended to refreeze meats that have been previously frozen and then cooked