January is always a month of post-holiday regret, both in the belly and in my wallet. While I have to mind my physical well-being, I have to look at how I am really spending my money these days. The two almost always collide, as we know that eating healthy takes both time and cash. Yeah, I see you, Whole Foods, with your super expensive yet healthy snack options.
A few years ago in Pharmacy School, my friend Kim told me she just cooked for a month. Excuse me? Won’t everything go bad? Nah, she made frozen crockpot meals. Fast forward to chubbier, poorer Kathy, and I think I found something that helps my chubby belly and my anorexic wallet. We’re trying to turn those two around. The idea is that you buy a whole bunch of things bulk (because who doesn’t need an excuse to go to Costco?) and use them all in different ways to make a few meals that will last you a month.
I found the recipes from Part 1 of Ring Around the Rosie to be the best cost and health option for my first hand at freezer cooking. I like that the meals are based on meats and vegetables, and very little carbs (some are served over brown rice or pasta, which isn’t a huge bust). I also like that I can finally find a way to cut cost, but not let all the Costco-bulk go bad. For whatever reason, my boyfriend also had been hoarding different times of canned tomatoes. I can’t even explain it. I opened up the pantry and there were at least 4 cans each of diced, paste, sauce, and whole peeled tomatoes. I can’t even.
So while my boyfriend sat there watching Sunday Football, I spent the day chopping up onions, peppers, carrots, and celery. All the leftover vegetables I didn’t use got turned into cooking-sized freezer bags (his mom got us a Food Saver for Christmas, which is exactly what we needed) or snacks (carrot and celery sticks for work).
From the RAtR website, we made (with commentary):
Lazy Day Stew-NOT Kevin’s favorite. God he did not like it at all. I think a twist to the recipe to make it better is to add one cup of water AND one cup of beef stock. His main complaint is that there wasn’t enough liquid to cook the meat and the vegetables together in the crock pot.
Sausage and Peppers-we LOVED this. I think the key was really the peppers we had gotten from Costco–the Italian Sweet Peppers
Teriyaki Chicken-He also loved this, even though it is probably the least health option we have. Make sure you have enough teriyaki sauce for the back and the ¼ cup you add when you cook it in the crockpot.
Savory Chicken- We haven’t got to this one yet since it needs some fresh broccoli at the end and we are creatures of laziness.
There are a few more recipes I had bought ingredients for, but we have not had the chance to make due to lack of freezer space. Oh yeah we have a regular top-half freezer, and boyfriend has a freezer chest, for whatever reason. Each of the recipes from RAtR makes two bags of food, which feeds us for at least one dinner, plus lunch on the occasion we don’t finish it. As far as Food Saver-ing my extras, that will have to be another blog post (when I actually get around to blanching and freezing them).