Going to classes, working in the clinic, and being involved in student organizations leaves very little time for anything else, let alone preparing a home-cooked meal every night of the week. We often find ourselves once again going to Chipotle or ordering take-out, which may seem like a quick, easy fix but can add up and make a serious dent in our wallets. Today, I want to share with you a great way to save time AND money while preparing the most delicious home cooked meals! My search to try to find an efficient way to feed a household of two with minimal effort lead me to crock-pot freezer meals.
I have chosen these recipes from my weekly rotation of favorites so I can guarantee you’ll enjoy how easy and delicious they are!
1 lb. cooked Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 T. sugar
2 T. Italian seasoning
1 T. Herbs de Provence
1 t. fennel seeds
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Directions: Mix all ingredients in freezer bag and freeze. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over hot cooked pasta.
Thai Wings with Peanut Sauce
2 lbs. chicken drumsticks or wings
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
3 T lime juice
3 T soy sauce
3 T water
2 T freshed chopped ginger
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic chopped
Directions: Place all ingredients in bag and freeze until ready to cook. Thaw slightly and place in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Where should I start?
Look at the ingredient’s list and figure out what ingredients you need. Go buy them! Don’t forget to also get some freezer bags.
Pick a day, preferably a weekend day, and block out one hour to put together your meals in the freezer bags. Don’t forget to write cooking directions on the bag or on a sticky note taped to the bag.
Now all you have to do is wake up, do a zombie walk to your kitchen, dump the contents of the freezer bag into your crock-pot, turn the crock-pot on. Then you can go on and brush your pearly whites!
Voila! When you get home from school, dinner will be ready waiting for you! You can even take the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Forgot to put tonight’s dinner in the crock-pot this morning?
Don’t worry you can defrost it in warm water, put it on a baking dish, and throw it in the oven. It may not be as pull-aparty (definitely not a word) as it would have been if you left it in the crock-pot all day, but hey! You still get to eat a delicious warm dinner with minimal effort.
Have absolutely NO time to cook anything, but you’re seriously starving?!
I recommend keeping the items for the following recipe on hand. You can whip it up is less than 10 minutes.
Creamy Tomato Tortellini with Sausage
1 package (19 ounces) of frozen cheese tortellinis
2 fully cooked chicken sausages, chopped
1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
- Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook and stir sausage over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes or until browned. Add tomatoes and spinach; cook and stir just until spinach is wilted. Stir in cream cheese until melted.
- Drain tortellini; add to sausage mixture. Toss to combine.
Do you have any quick, budget-friendly recipes to share with MO readers? Share them in the comments below or simply send them to your classmates!
~Fabiola Douglas, Columbia ’17
About Fabiola Douglas
Fabiola is a 2nd year student at Columbia University. She's originally from Venezuela, but calls Orlando, FL home. She attended University of Florida for her undergraduate studies (Go Gators!). Outside of school, she loves to do Crossfit to stay active and play with her puppy Rocco.