Eat healthy, save money and make it quick! Easy, right? Not always, but I have a secret. With a crock pot and a freezer you can do all three. You are probably wondering right now how a crock pot, which is a SLOOOW cooker could be quick. With a small amount of planning ahead you can create quick, healthy meals to store away in your freezer for just those times that you need a quick easy meal. I do it all the time.
I have a really big crock pot. You don’t necessarily need a big one. You could use two or three small ones. I often see small crock pots at Goodwill that are very cheap. The main idea here is to make enough for a meal and then some. The ‘and then some’ is going in the freezer for another day. Depending on how much more you make you could have yourself a healthy lunch or another supper. When you have a large family and you love to craft you need to have these little secrets to save yourself time. I also prepare foods in this manner that I don’t want to buy, for instance I don’t want to buy canned beans. They cost much more than the dried beans in a bag and they are loaded with extra salt. There are studies out there about the lining of the cans too, but that is a whole other can of worms. I did not just write that, did I?
When I go grocery shopping I have a little rule I run over in my head. If I can make it, don’t buy it. This rule has saved us so much money on our grocery bill. It is also the best way to eat whole foods without the preservatives, chemicals, extra salt, and all that sugar! When you make it yourself you have all the control which is what I like. I won’t buy broth. I can make it myself. I won’t buy canned prepared soups. I can make them myself. Okay, you get it.
Here is a small list of things I make in my crock pot to put in the freezer.
Chicken noodle soup
Black bean soup
Above is a small collection of what I have waiting in my freezer. I have more in my deep freeze in the basement. Just make much more than a meal and put the rest away. When freezing, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are using jars, as I do, do not fill to the top and do not cover until the contents are frozen. As you probably know things expand when they freeze. Plastic is an option if you cool the food completely before you pour it into the containers. Again, do not cover until frozen. Another tip when making soups is do not add any pasta until you are re-heating for your meal. I have made this mistake and the pasta gets gooey and overcooked.
If you have kids and they do activities or you work all day and get home tired or you just want more time to enjoy your day and night with your family try making a meal ‘and then some’ with your crock pot.The only thing you will have to do is remember to take out the jars in the morning. Put the jars in a pot with warm water and in a few hours you will have a meal. I would love to share all my recipes with you and will, but not all in one post. For now, I will tell you how I make broth.
A whole chicken, or two or three beef soup bones that have lots of meat on them. I get my beef by the half cow and I always get several soup bones. If you don’t have a half a cow in your freezer you could probably ask your local butcher or maybe even ask at the meat counter at the grocery store.
Salt, pepper, herbs or spices to your liking.
Throw everything in the crock pot. Turn on low and let it sit over night. Be prepared to be very hungry in the middle of the night because the most amazing smell will wake you.
Remove meat and bones. Use the meat for a variety of things. My favorite is beef or chicken pot pie. Yum!
Using a strainer, take ladle full amounts of broth and transfer to glass jars. If you want to use plastic you can transfer hot broth into a bowl and wait for it to cool. Using the strainer gives you a clear broth that if free of all the skin and small pieces from the meat. A clear broth is nice for things like making a white sauce for seafood.
Put in freezer uncovered. After it freezes put covers on and you are done!
The cast iron pot and bread maker are two more friends I have. I’ll introduce you to them another day.