Crock’d – Slow Cooker Freezer Meals, a MUST HAVE freezer-to-crock pot recipe book and guide from NewLeafWellness.biz
I’ve been a freezer meal evangelist since the very first “Once-A-Month Cooking” book was published back in 1986. For years I slaved one weekend a month – prepping, cooking, assembling — and we had home-cooked meals for the next 30 days. Quite an accomplishment considering my husband and I both worked about 50 hours a week and had 3 kids at home.
As my chickies grew and left the nest, I fell out of the routine of prepping, and even of cooking on a regular basis. Recently I realized we were eating out more than in, and my bank account was feeling it. I needed to get back in the dinner groove, so to speak, and get control of the meal planning & preparation again.
In googling keywords like ‘meals’, ‘planning’, and ‘organization’, I came across a website called NewLeafWellness.biz promoting a PDF book entitled, “Crock’d”. What an epiphany – meat doesn’t need to be cooked before it’s frozen in meals! (I checked with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection service website to verify the safety too). I immediately bought and downloaded the book, and within that very week had stocked my freezer with frozen gallon bags of crock pot meals.
The beauty of this make-ahead freezer meal book is the simplicity of preparation, and the tastiness of the results. Because you don’t pre-cook anything (yes, you freeze the meals with raw meat!), they taste fresh right out of the slow-cooker, rather than like reheated leftovers.
It took a minimal amount of planning. The book has grocery lists and labels to copy too. I ordered freezer bags in bulk for a great price (from Amazon.com), and also spent just under $6 on an extra pair of hands that the author recommended (Jokari Baggie Holder) – This doodad works fantastic! It simply sits on the counter and you clip your baggie into the top clips, adjust the height depending on the size of the bag, and voila! you are free to use both hands to fill your freezer bags.
The most exotic ingredient in the recipes I used was freshly grated ginger – which really adds so much more flavor than dried, ground ginger — most everything else, aside from the meats and fresh veggies, was already in my cabinets and refrigerator. After one large grocery purchase (just over $200), instead of putting everything away, I got out the freezer bags and assembled 27 meals in about three hours. The bulk of the time and effort went into peeling, slicing and dicing carrots, onions, and multi-colored bell peppers, but once that was done it was just a matter of grabbing a bag and dumping ingredients in. (While I was chopping, I set my son up with a stack of freezer bags and the paper labels I’d pre-printed from the PDF download, and had him tape them onto the bags with wide, clear packing tape.)
I put together nearly 30 meals in about 3 hours – a record for me! The recipes in Crock’d use a variety of meats: chicken, pork, beef – fresh vegetables, a few canned or frozen veggies (corn, tomatoes), some standard sauces (tomato, mustard, Worcestershire) and spices — all in all VERY healthy. The only added fats in any of the dishes were the occasional tablespoon of olive oil – again, VERY healthy.
There was a time where my family began to dread crock pot meals… “We’re eating out of the pot, again!??” It was so bad I’d sometimes sneak the crock pot contents into a casserole dish and put it in the oven at the last minute so they wouldn’t know. But now my last child at home and my husband fight over who gets to pick out the meal for the next day. Every freezer bag we’ve “crocked” has scored high on the “make this again” scale… Definitely a surprise.
Kelly McNelis, the gal behind ‘Crock’d’, as well as the whole website over at New Leaf Wellness, has a promotional giveaway going on right now, offering an awesome prize package including a new crock pot and lots of accessories, along with her freezer cookbooks. Entering is as simple as leaving a comment, so stop over and write her a note. Peruse the website too. She’s my new hero.
**notice & disclaimer: The reviews of anything mentioned in this blog post are entirely based on my own personal experience and opinion. I have not received compensation of any kind, nor do I expect to. I have never met, nor communicated with the author of the New Leaf Wellness website, but I highly respect what she’s sharing, and wanted to pass it on. I will, however, receive a few pennies if you decide to click on any of the pictures and order products through Amazon.com. I do not plan on quitting my day job any time soon 🙂