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What I do is pick on day to grocery shop and do my "prep" work for my meals. I through all the ingredients for the recipe into a ziplock bag and then freeze it. In the morning I put the frozen meal into the CP and turn it on. It's done when I get home and I don't have to work about prep every day. Potatoes don't do terribly well. They can turn a little brown.
You can use this along with the timer. Because the food is frozen you don't have to worry about it spoiling while it waits for the timer to start.
You can still have delicious and healthy meals and save money!
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Ty so much for the ideas.
Wow Carol. Those suggestions are awesome! I can't wait to give them a try over the next week or two. Thank you so much!
First thought I had when I read "take what works for you and trash the rest" was a quote from the Godfather, "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli"
Hey Josie, here's some tips, take what works for you and trash the rest (eat the fish and leave the bones).
1. Buy lamp timer at discount store (Kmart, Target, Walmart), and ask someone from that dept to plug it in to some of their display lamps and show you how to use it. Make sure it's rated for up to 450Watts. (No need to tell them you're going to use it for your crockpot.) Or buy a newer crockpot that has a built-in timer as someone else posted, they are similar to programmable coffee pots, and use the other crockpot on days you are home to make things you can make ahead in them, like homemade spaghetti sauce, soup, beans, etc.
2. Consult your schedule / family calendar, then designate and write it down as "grocery day".
3. The day before "grocery day" is "leftovers day". Haul out all leftovers from the fridge and eat them up for dinner, or freeze them, or make a casserole out of them, etc. Clean out the now-almost-emptied-fridge, as part of after-dinner-cleanup on leftovers day.
4. Make it a habit to never cook just for one meal. Always triple or quadruple. Cook en masse. Make EVERY meal a batch-cooking-event. Clean and chop and bag the entire celery not just one stalk. Boil a dozen eggs for breakfast instead of two. Make 2lasagnas or 2meatloaves or 2casseroles; bake the first and freeze the second raw. If you need one diced onion for a recipe, also peel and slice a second one. Eventually you'll be able to cook only 3X a week, if you do this EVERY TIME YOU COOK.
5. Same for groceries, never buy for just one meal or just one week. If roast is on sale, buy 4. If chicken is on sale, buy 12lbs instead of 3lbs. Buy for 2 weeks at a time with a list (or longer if you have the pantry & freezer space), plus buy extra of whatever's on sale, and you'll reduce the hassle of trips as well as expense. To make the list & menu ideas: look at the grocery flyers online to see what meat is on sale, and that will usually spark ideas (like 93% ground beef being on sale will spark chili, tacos, pasta, meatloaf); then think about favorite recipes; then open your cupboards, pantry, and freezer to see what can be used up.
6. Always start one crockpot at the beginning of the week that can be used for three meals, examples A&B provided. You will need the largest crock pot you can get.
Day 1 or Sun: slow cook far more pot roast than you could ever eat up
Freezer: 1/3 of leftovers sliced for lunch sandwiches, or, frozen for future roast beef sandwiches like French Onion Dip, Philly cheese steak, etc. Do this during after-dinner cleanup on day 1
Day 3 or Tues: 1/3 of leftovers made into fajitas
Day 5 or Thurs: 1/3 of leftovers put back into crockpot with a bottle of BBQ sauce to make shredded BBQ beef sandwiches
Note:(pot roast, fajitas, and BBQ are 3 completely different tastes, menu-wise, so no one's tastebuds or eyes will be bored, plus, you snagged some for the freezer / lunches).
Day 2 or Mon: Roast a chicken in the crockpot
Day 4 or Wed: Pick the chick carcass clean of most of it's meat and throw it in crockpot to make homemade broth; add canned, frozen, or crisper drawer veggies to make chick veggie soup.
Day 6 or Fri: Chop the leftover and deboned chicken meat, add black beans, salsa, cheese, and roll up for burritos. Or freeze the chopped chick meat, there are a million recipes and casseroles you can use it in.
If you've been eating at Subway and your pantry and cupboards are empty, don't despair. Just buy double nonperishable sale-of-the-week items, each time you go to the store.
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I have done this with good results.
I have thought about that but I've had trouble scheduling it and figuring out the dynamics. I need to just set priorities and get it done. I know if I just take some time and get it organized I could do it.
Also, how would the recipes work? I looked into some once a month cooking sites and I don't buy that many groceries at one time. For my teenage Son and myself our food budget is $50 every 2 weeks. It usually turns into $40 because of household stuff needed but I've managed to feed us Only reason we've had Subway is because someone gave me her Christmas gift card, she can't stand Subway LOL It's almost all spent up. Who buys someone a $75 gift card to a fast food restaurant???
Have you thought about making a few different meals on your days off and then freezing them?
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I have cooked things overnight in my crockpot such as roasts for shredded beef or BBQ's. It works fine. Not all recipe's will though. Have you thought about investing in a timed cq. I have one that cooks for the time I set it for and then switches to warm until I get home. Something like that might work for you...just a suggestion.
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I leave my house at 7 in the morning and I don't get home until between 8 and 9 most nights. Because of that using my cp during the day, even on low temp, doesn't time right for most recipes. I was thinking about cooking with my cp at night by turning it on when I go to bed and off when I get up in the morning. Does anyone else do this? Does it ruin the flavor of the meal? Any advice? I miss using my cp I am getting sick of Subway and I just can't afford it anymore.