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My “10 Meals in an hour” freezer to crockpot meal plan results
I would see these Living Well Spending Less meal plans pop up frequently in my Pinterest feed. Every time I saw one of these meal plans advertised, I’d wonder if it could be as amazing as it sounded.
I mean, 10 meals ready to go after only an hour in the kitchen, and all of these meals can be stored in the freezer? AND they can go right into the crockpot on cooking day???
It sounded too good to be true!!!
I was totally intrigued, but I wasn’t sure if it was something someone like me could handle. You see, I’m not much of a cook and spending time in the kitchen is very low on my enjoyments list. I’ve been spoiled by my husband over the years, who is an amazing cook and does enjoy cooking. But now that I’m home and have more time, I wanted to get better at cooking and save him time in the evenings. Why should he do all the cooking when I have time to get it done while he’s at work?
Now, I say I wanted to save my husband cooking time, but truth be told, I wanted to free up that cooking time in the evenings for both of us. I wanted to spend less time in the kitchen too!
If that was going to happen, I knew I needed to start making meal plans.
That’s another reason “10 meals in an hour” sounded so great to me.
I already struggle to have a meal plan each week. Most of the time, our family is winging it for dinner. And for grocery shopping.
As you can imagine, this means we end up not eating as well and wasting a lot of money, time, and food that we bought without a plan each week.
I try though. Oh, how I try! Sometimes (rarely), my meal planning goes well. But as soon as I have a good week of planned meals- including groceries, cooking, and all that entails- I fall off the meal planning wagon again. It is exhausting!
But if I had a bunch of meals ready to go in our freezer, then I could quickly meal plan each week with the freezer meals. At least, that’s how my mind thinks!
So I really wanted to try it, but what if it didn’t go well?
A “10 meals in an hour” meal plan had the potential to be a huge time saver, but it was a lot of new recipes to try all at once. What if my family didn’t like the foods that I cooked? What if it blew up our weekly food budget?
But that was negative talk.
On the flip side, I wondered…
Will the “10 meals in an hour” meal plan be what I need to finally be successful at meal planning?
In the end, I decided that the possible pros seemed to outweigh the possible cons. Bottom line: I could try one of these meal plans and, if it didn’t work out, I just wouldn’t do it again. But if it did work out, man oh man, it would solve a lot of problems.
In fact, I hoped to solve all of the following problems:
- Spend less time cooking
- Improve cooking skills
- Make tasty dishes enjoyed by whole family
- Stick to food budget
- Make weekly meal plans
- Stop stressing about food plans
I spent over a year humming and hawing, trying to decide if I should try one of these meal plans. And then the New Year came around and all of its obligatory resolutions for self-improvement.
And guess what was one of the items on my list of resolutions? You guessed it. Meal planning.
I didn’t want to feel stressed about coming up with dinner in the evenings, or mess up the cooking after spending an hour trying a recipe. I didn’t want to waste food anymore, or the money wasted on the wasted food. So I knew I needed to get better at meal planning and come up with a strong core list of foods that I could cook successfully and easily.
If I could accomplish this, it would be a money saver, time saver, and sanity saver.
So I did it one weekend in January. I sat down with my husband to decide which “10 meals in an hour” meal plan to try, and we settled on plan #5.
It included the following recipes and made enough for 2 bags each of: chicken fajitas, kale & bean soup, beef burritos, mushroom pork chops, and honey sesame chicken.
And now I have the answer to my question:
Could this meal plan really deliver on its promises and be the game changer I needed to be a successful meal planner this year?
The short answer is YES, oh my goodness, yes! And let me explain why.
One Shopping List for All
All the ingredients that you need are combined into one mega-list, making it super easy to check the pantry for what you already have, and go grocery shopping for what you still need.
Recipes easy enough for non-cooks
All 5 recipes are basically putting raw meats into freezer bags, then mixing up a sauce, and pouring that mixture into the bag over the top of the meat. No pre-cooking whatsoever! And I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of making these sauces. Just mix all the ingredients together and pour!
I must mention that this meal plan was supposed to take an hour, but it took me 3 hours to finish. Luckily, I was cooking on a Sunday and had the extra time.
Despite taking 3 times as long as promised, it’s still saving us a lot of cooking time each week (because it was 2 weeks worth of food). And I am totally confident that I can cut my time down the next time I do this plan because I’ve got the experience under my belt now. I’m more familiar with the recipes and know the best bowls, pots, measuring cups, etc to use from my kitchen.
All of these meals can go directly into gallon freezer bags in the freezer to be thawed at a later date if you don’t want to cook and eat it right away. This makes them handy to pull out for busy days. However, it’s not necessary to freeze them. When I followed this plan, I only made 9 freezer bags. I kept half of the kale and bean soup out and immediately cooked it on the stove for dinner. Also worth noting, I usually didn’t thaw the meals before throwing them into the crockpot and that worked too!
I love crockpot meals! They’re just so easy. And these meals are no exception. Simply dump a bag into the crockpot on cooking day. Leave it for a few hours and then dinner is ready! Few things in life are this simple. 🙂 The recipes come with suggested times for the low setting or the high setting.
Fewer trips to the grocery store
Since this plan makes 10 freezer bags worth of food, and we are only a family of 3, I’ve discovered that each bag will feed us for 2 meals, sometimes more. So this plan is practically a 20 meal plan for us, and that means we may be able to go to the grocery store half as often. I have yet to confirm this bonus benefit, but I will update this post when I have.
Fewer dishes to wash
This was a huge plus that I wasn’t expecting. Since I made all the meals in one night, I was able to rinse bowls and measuring cups between recipes, and MAJORLY cut down on the number of dirty dishes during the meal prep. In fact, when I was done, it all fit into the dishwasher and there was room for more.
Less food prep for dinner each evening
Since these meals are all prepped in bags ahead of time, all you have to do on cooking day is throw it in the crockpot. That’s the beauty of crockpot cooking. You throw the food in, and it will cook while you do other things. When it’s ready, it’s as simple as getting out plates, silverware, and any extra fixings. We cooked rice or vegetables as a side to go with a couple of the meals, but that only takes a few extra minutes as well.
When I made the soup, my daughter literally said, “This is the best soup I’ve ever had!” I kid you not. I couldn’t believe it. The leftovers have been great too- just warmed up in the microwave. It’s been taking care of lunch for my husband and me all week as well.
We’ve tried all 5 meals and have loved them all.
Everything that we bought at the store had a plan to be used in one of these meals. So I haven’t had to throw out any food! So often, we have these good intentions when we buy groceries, and then forget about what we bought because we didn’t have a specific meal plan in place for that food item.
Plus, the meals are fairly cheap overall.
What I bought
- Cans of diced tomato with green chiles: 3 x 0.59
- Cans of diced tomato: 4 x 0.69
- Cans of cannellini beans: 4 x 0.69
- Minced garlic: 1 x 1.79
- Diced green chiles: 1 x 0.65
- Chicken broth: 3 x 1.29
- Brown rice: 1 x 1.49
- Sour cream: 1 x 0.99
- Sausage: 1 x 5.29
- Onions: 1 x 1.99
- Sliced mushrooms: 1 x 1.89
- Green onions: 1 x 0.89
- Parsley: 1 x 0.79
- Green bell peppers: 3 x 0.50
- Avocados: 2 x 0.50
- Parmesan cheese: 1 x 2.49
- Kale: 1 x 2.99
- Chicken breast: 6.61 x 2.50
- Rump roast: 13.14
- Top round roast: 2.08 x 1.30
- Pork chops: 1 x 5.90
- Salsa verde: 1 x 2.19
- Fajita mix: 2 x 1.99
- Lime juice: 1 x 1.29
- Soy sauce: 1 x 1.79
The rest of the food and supplies were items that we already had on hand. All in all, with taxes included, we spent less than $90 on this meal plan.
As a family of 3, we have leftovers with these meals (which also taste good microwaved). I did some calculations and, if these 10 freezer bags truly last us about 3 weeks, we may save around $40/month by prepping these meals!
Meal Planning Success
So far, this meal plan endeavor has been completely successful (except for the 3-hour prep time, which is still fast enough to make me feel successful)!
It has exceeded my expectations in ease of implementation, time saving, sanity saving, and money saving. I’m so much more relaxed about meal plans and hope to continue to try even more of these plans in the coming weeks and months!
We’ve already decided to try Plan #3 next!
If you’ve thought about trying one of these freezer-to-crockpot 10 meal plans, just do it!
Thumbs up to you,