I know this is supposed to be a blog focused on interior design, but I wanted to create this post because I have received a lot of questions regarding how I manage my time with so many priorities (side note: if you are remodeling your kitchen, I definitely recommend doing something like this before you start, so I guess you can relate this to design). Back in April, I was raising my 7 year old, working my full time job as a lead designer, had just bought a house that needed a lot of work (and still does), AND then I took a position at the local college teaching evening design classes Monday through Friday from 3-8PM. Oh yeah, there was an hour commute too. Long story short I would start working at around 6AM, and then get home at around 9PM. I’m still not sure why I decided to take on so many priorities at once, but luckily I have a very supportive fiance who held down the fort during those three long months.
My chaotic schedule last Spring was what got me started on mass meal prepping, but I just recently meal prepped again for several reasons; One, I am busy working and never know what days I’m going to be done at 3PM, or what days I’ll be on my computer until after midnight. Two, while I love cooking for pleasure, when I have to get a meal on the table every night it turns tedious. I hate grocery shopping and trying to figure out what healthy, non boring meal to put on the table next. Three, when I don’t have my week of dinners planned out I end up ordering takeout or going out to eat at least once a week. That gets expensive!
So, last week I prepped 30 Crockpot Freezer Meals in 8 Hours. And yes, it was hard work. And no, it’s not fun. But now I don’t have to worry about dinner for at least a month!
I made 15 meals and doubled them for a total of 30 frozen meals that I can just stick in the crockpot the morning of and have dinner on the table without any prep work or dirty dishes. Some of these recipes are mine, but most of them are from other sites which I’ve linked to below. Several of these recipes were just regular recipes that had ingredients that freeze well, so I turned them into freezer meals myself.
- Chickpea Bolognese (Vegan)
- Chicken Alfredo (Scroll down in site)
- Turkey Meatloaf (See recipe below)
- Honey Garlic Chicken
- Shrimp in Coconut Sauce
- Pork Roast
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Pork Carnitas
- Smothered Pork Chops
- Vicki Chicken (See recipe below)
- Butter Chicken
- Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Beef Stew
- Thai Coconut Curry Soup (Do not freeze noodles or beansprouts. Cook noodles day of and garnish meal with bean sprouts)
- Sausage & Kale Soup (I didn’t even brown the sausage and it turned out amazing. Just leave out the chicken stock until you add it to the crockpot to keep kale from getting soggy)
As you can see, I like variety. I hate when I see meal prep blog posts and all the recipes are chicken, chicken, chicken. I get so tired of chicken. I used to do all my meal prep shopping at Costco, but then I was usually only able to buy 2, maybe 3 types of meat because it is packaged in such large quantities. That also gets expensive. I have started shopping at Winco for these large meal prep sessions because they sell in bulk but they also sell items in smaller packages. So, if I just want 2 chuck roasts for beef stew I can buy that instead of having to make 6 recipes with chuck roast. I can also shop for smaller items like cilantro and spices without having to buy a lifetime supply of them. I have done meal prep days with friends too. That way we can buy 4-5 types of meat and then split the recipes we make; we drink mimosas to make the process more enjoyable.
After you’ve gone shopping for your ingredients and laid out everything needed for your meal prep session, you can get started! The first thing I like to do is take and label 1 gallon freezer bags. Once all bags are labeled, cut and divide all of the meat. This is my least favorite part which is why I usually have my fiance do it. Some of the meats don’t need to be cut and you can just divide them accordingly. You can also use these cool bag holders that hold your bag in place while you’re adding ingredients but they aren’t necessary.
When all meats are divided, move on to the vegetables. Chop up all of your veggies and add them to the bags. Then, add all sauces, spices and any other ingredients the recipes call for. If doubling the recipes, make sure you work on both meals at once to avoid re-reading the recipe and having to go back to get ingredients. Once all of the ingredients have been added to each bag, get as much air out of the bags as you can and put them in the freezer! Flattening the bags will save you space if you are limited but I have extra freezer space and am usually too lazy to do that at this point (as you can see in the photos).
And that’s how it’s done! It usually takes me around 8 hours (including a 2 hour grocery trip) to get this all done, but it is so worth it.
Here are the two recipes that are actually mine. I have been making these two recipes for years and I love them!
This is my personal recipe and one of my family’s favorites. I know meatloaf sounds gross.. but this isn’t the kind of meatloaf with a bunch of baked ketchup all over it! Even the pickiest eaters in my family that cringed when I told them I was serving turkey meatloaf ended up loving it. And, its super simple to just make a double recipe and freeze one loaf. I usually serve it with broccoli and mashed potatoes with gravy.
1lb ground turkey breast
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 c. milk
1/4 onion (chopped)
1 tbl worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp italian seasoning
1.5 tbl olive oil
2 tbl fresh cilantro (optional)
Mix all ingredients and form into loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour of until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. If freezing, take out of the freezer morning of. When you get home bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
This one is called Vicki Chicken because it’s actually my mom’s recipe. It was a hit with several friends who now just call it “Vicki Chicken” and so now I do too.
10-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I use breast because my family doesn’t like thighs)
2 tbl curry powder
4 tbl soy sauce
1 cup honey
1 cup deli mustard
Regular version: Combine marinade ingredients. Place chicken and marinade in large ziplock bag. Marinate for at least 2 hours. Pour contents into shallow baking pan coated with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (turn chicken halfway through baking).
Freezer version: Combine all ingredients. Place in crockpot on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is cooked. Serve with brussel sprouts and rice pilaf.
Do you meal prep? Feel free to share any recipes that you love!