Making eight slowcooker meals in less than 30 minutes

You knows know I’m a Pinterest addict, but I have a very specific “thing” about Pinterest. When I pin a craft or a home decor idea, there’s a very good chance I’ll actually do it. Seriously, it’s like Pinterest threw up all over my house. We basically live in one big pin board.
But! When it comes to recipes, I hardly ever make anything I pin. I think it’s because I’m just really not very adept in the kitchen. I enjoy baking, but I don’t often experiment with new recipes. I really don’t like cooking, and I also feel I never have the time for anything fancy.
So all of my pins about slowcooker meals? Yeah, never tried any of them. They always seem to have (A) ingredients I don’t have (B) ingredients I don’t like, or (C) both of the above.
Because I work every afternoon (freelance writing/editing projects) while the kids are napping, I literally cannot spare a minute of that to work on dinner. I stop working when the kids wake up, get them changed, bring them downstairs, and then … try to get dinner in their mouths in 20 minutes or less. Ugh.
I knew I needed to do SOMETHING to make dinner prep easier on myself, but I honestly don’t have the time/effort at the moment to really investigate some awesomely creative Pinterest slowcooker meals (that we’d actually eat), so yesterday I threw together eight meals’ worth of food that we actually eat all of the time.
It took me less than half an hour to prep everything, and I can’t tell you HOW GOOD IT FEELS to know I’m saving my own butt for eight entire evenings. SO GOOD!
I got started by browning 2 lbs. of lean beef in my electric skillet thingy

Then I threw it all in a giant bowl …

 

… and added two jars of super-fancy Ragu pasta sauce! (I warned you — I’m not a very good cook yet!)

Then I prepped three baggies …

… mixed everything up …

Stuck the baggies inside the slowcooker to keep them upright … 
… and filled ’em up! (2 lbs. of ground beef divided three ways means we’ll have enough for dinner one night, plus lunch the next day — so technically this is making six meals!)

Two jars of sauce seems like a lot, but I wanted plenty of liquid since this is going to be simmering in a slowcooker all day. Before I toss it in the slowcooker, I’ll throw in some fresh garlic, too.

 

Next up — browning 2 lbs. of taco meat! We eat a LOT of Mexican food in this house (it’s our favouritest favourite), so I could have probably done 4 lbs., and I might do that next time.
I browned the 2 lbs. of taco meat, added our usual Weight Watchers taco seasoning blend, and dumped in a whole jar of salsa (again, because I wanted plenty of liquid in the slowcooker)
Mmmm, taco-y goodness!

Three bags of taco meat, ready to freeze!

Last up was the chicken! We eat a lot of wraps and quesadillas (because we heart Mexicannnnn), so I often throw frozen boneless chicken in the slowcooker with salsa — super-easy, and it’s perfect for those dishes. However, it’s a pain to rip styrofoam and plastic off frozen chicken, and sometimes it doesn’t fit neatly into the slowcooker …

 

… So once I labeled the bags, I dumped two chicken breasts into each one …

… and added 1/4 jar of salsa to each bag. Once it was all nicely smooshed around, it will keep the chicken coated (so it doesn’t get freezer burn) and fit neatly into the slowcooker. 

 

Eight meals’ worth of beef and chicken (plus leftovers for lunches the next day) — all prepared in less than 30 minutes. Yup, I was pretty pleased with myself!

I folded each bag in half so it’s the perfect slowcooker size, stacked ’em up, and asked Darling Husband to carry them downstairs to our deep freeze. DONE!

I swear, this project has ALREADY been well worth the effort — even though we haven’t eaten any of it — simple because I like the feeling of knowing it’s all there in the freezer, waiting for me.

So tell me — do you freeze slowcooker meals in advance? Do you have any recipes that are super-basic and don’t require weird ingredients, haha? In case you couldn’t tell, we’re salsa people.

xoxo

So what do you think?

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