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Well, life is all about balance. And sometimes, it gets unbalanced. It’s been a whirl-wind September and I can’t believe it’s October already! School is officially in full swing, my internship is turning out to be my new fitness plan (I seriously need to invest in some Clark clogs or whatever those fancy shoes are the nurses wear! I think my feet would thank me!), my graduate assistantship is allowing me to flex my former conference/event planning muscles, and Oct. is a month of fun visits from friends and family. Whew! So glad to be dog sitting right now (Thanks Tom and Marianne!), while getting ahead on my class work!

One thing that didn’t throw me off-balance this Sept. is my meal planning. I figured out that with my packed week I really only have Friday nights or Sat. mornings open to do my shopping. I started doing meal planning this summer and really cut down my food expenditures (with a gluten-free diet and grad school, my budget is tight!). Well, last month, I experimented with Freezer Meal Friday! Outcome: SUCCESS! I had – and still have – frozen meals ready for lunches or quick dinners. While I do cook dinner a few nights a week – usually pasta or a quick veggie stir fry – this cut down on my expenses and gave me something I needed in buckets – TIME! Though, this month, I’ll approach things a bit differently…

Lessons Learned:

  1. Frozen meals – seasonings, liquids, meat, veggies, everything! – need de-frosting before the crock pot. My roommates can vouch for this. Many a time I wouldn’t give it enough time and have to chisel the frozen brick of food into the crock pot so I could close the lid. Oops!
  2. Where’s the flavor?! The beef I had in spades, but freezing seasonings tends to dull them. This time around I will experiment with seasonings by adding a few to the dish when I put it in the crock pot, not when I put it in the freezer.
  3. Variety. It’s the spice of life. I had all beef meals last month. Good for the protein, but all the seasonings were similar too. This month, I’m switching it up with chicken and using really different spices in each dish.
  4. Freezer space. Make sure you have enough – or that your containers will fit in small nooks and crannies.
October Meals:
I found these online through Pinterest (LOVE) and the go-to-crock-pot blog – A Year of Slow Cooking. Click on the photos for links to the recipes. I’ll keep you posted for next month. This is definitely something I will keep doing.
Honey Garlic Chicken via A Year of Slow Cooking. Mix it with some rice, steamed veggies and a salad! Simple, but easy!
Mac and Cheese via A Whisk and A Prayer. Comfort foooooood! So good. While this one is not really a freezer food candidate, I made it last night and have saved the leftovers for the week. SO delish! Tip, add bread crumbs to the top a few minutes before it’s done.
Taco Chili via Skinny Taste. Blame my Mother! She craved Tex-Mex when she was pregnant with me. Salsa and hot spices are my Kryptonite! I can’t say no!
Curry chicken via SparkRecipe. I searched high and low for a crock pot curry recipe. Most were REALLY long with LOTS of ingredients. This one had good reviews, with recommended tweaks, but seemed do-able. I’m a bit worried, but hope it all works out!
To find out more about my Freezer Meal Friday adventure, check out my previous post. At the bottom is a handy link to websites with tips for starting your own freezer meal program.
Lastly, I do miss cooking. However, I appreciate that even my meals can work WITH me and not AGAINST me on my busy, busy schedule. I have recently discovered Pioneer Woman….yes, I know I’m late to the party! Thanks for the heads up….and wish I could spend my days cooking just like Ree….and live on a ranch like her too! Maybe I’ll have another free August open for adventures in the kitchen….but something tells me those days are long gone.
Happy cooking!
Erin
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