In the few weeks before I have a baby, I try to do a lot of easy freezer meals for the crock pot that Tim or I can just pull out and throw in. Since I don't know when I will be having this baby and my restrictions seem to be changing weekly, with the possibility of eventually needing extended hospitalization, Tim and I decided to spend some time this weekend loading up gallon baggies with all of our favorite crock pot chicken meals.
Chicken Parmesan, BBQ Chicken, Fajita Filling, & Teriyaki Chicken....
None of these recipes are super exact or fancy, more just combinations of things we have found we like and the kids eat. They can be adjusted for 3-4 people as easily as 7-8. You can put a lot of marinade/sauce or just a little. The juices from the chicken will cook down and very rarely have I had a batch turn out dry. We buy the big bags of frozen chicken breasts from Costco, but you could also use chicken thighs or legs if you prefer for everything except the fajita filling. The teriyaki and bbq variations are quite yummy with pork/pork chops as well.
For all recipes, 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
Crushed or Pureed Tomatoes (Fresh or from a can is fine)
We usually serve this with spaghetti noodles and extra parmesan cheese. You could also serve it with rice or gluten free pasta (or veggie noodles) to make it gluten free.
Favorite BBQ Sauce (Gluten Free if needed)
When I remember, I will also throw some roughly chopped potatoes on top of the meat/sauce when I put this in the crock pot so we have a side ready to go. Don't freeze the potatoes though...they will get gross.
Can of Black Beans, Drained
Sliced Green Peppers
Soy Sauce (Gluten free if needed)
Dash of Vinegar
I only use 2-3 chicken breasts in this bag and then shred or chop the chicken before serving. You could be fancy and chop it in advance, but it falls apart so easily I don't find its worth the work. My end result might not be as pretty, but I feel like that's a fair compromise. Serve over rice or in tortillas with cheese and sour cream.
Soy Sauce (gluten free if needed)
Neutral oil of choice (I use canola)
This is my kids least favorite of the choices, but Tim and I love the onions. Not quite as tasty as grilled teriyaki onions, but an acceptable substitute. I usually serve with rice and will often throw some carrots in at the beginning as an easy veggie side.
In total we assembled 12 meals in about a half an hour (4 parm, 4 bbq, 2 fajita, 2 teriyaki) working together. I bag stuff and make marinades while Tim chops.
2 bags of frozen chicken, $15.99 each
1 jumbo can of tomato puree, $2.99
Parmesan cheese, $10 (Tim and I split the list and he bought the fresh stuff, usually I buy the grated which is less expensive)
2 Bottles BBQ sauce, $4.99
**Pantry items I consumed that will need replacing, price estimates
2 cans of black beans, $2
1 bottle of soy sauce, $3
12 gallon plastic bags, $1 (guesstimate, I buy the big cases of these from Costco when they are on sale)
**Pantry items needed in small amounts
**Vegetables from our garden
Carrots and Potatoes for adding to meals are also in our pantry/fridge for adding
Total Price: $55.96
Average Per Meal Price: $4.66 for a family of 7
Obviously that cost will be a little more if you need to purchase vegetables. Even adding in rice or pasta and a frozen veggie for each meal those meals easily fall in the $8-$10 range for a complete meal. The cost per meal will be less if you have a smaller family and can make more meals from the same ingredients. (Or cost more if you have older/more kids than I do.)
None of these are award winning fancy fare, but I have served them to guests without complaint many times and they are simple beyond belief. I am not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination! You can always (should, in fact) play with the spices and proportions until you can come up with some other ideas for your own family.
Even when other people are generous with providing meals around everything going on, it is nice to have one of our own favorite meals to mix in!
Note: I know the table looks wet in the top picture, I promise it is not chicken juice. I was a little over enthusiastic with the BBQ sauce and I had to do some mid- assembly table washing. Also please pretend you can't see how cluttered our kitchen counter is where Tim is chopping. If I told you what was in that whipped topping container you would probably unfollow me for fear I would rub off on you!