Family Dinner Plans
My crew of kiddos, along with my sisters-in-law and three of their kiddos, started back to home-family school at the start of August. Two days a week, we get together at each other’s homes and have family school. It’s been wonderful, but back to school time means busy momma.
One of our family school days takes place at our home, which means I get to prepare lunch for six (sometimes a couple more) kiddos. With a mix of picky and non-picky eaters, my go-to family lunch meal has been sourdough pancakes. I use an awesome recipe I found on Pinterest, and all the kids love them.
But lunch is a breeze (and I do highly enjoy cooking and baking; it is a labor of love for me). Come dinner time I still have my family to feed. I made it a goal to meal plan each week, which helps a lot with our busy schedule (and my kids are always hungry).
Meal planning has been a huge help with saving time and money. I normally plan around what we receive in our weekly Misfit Market Box and CSA, but every week we have at least one crockpot meal. Now I know many families have jumped on the Instant Pot wagon (I actually own one), but my family simply loves food done in the crockpot over the Instant Pot.
Earlier this year in late February, I bought 40 lbs. of chicken breast from our local “bent and dent” grocery store (They run bulk sales regularly), which they source from a semi-local in-state butcher. I was expecting my fourth kiddo in March and wanted to have some crockpot meals ready to go, for post-baby busy and momma tiredness. So, 40 lbs. of chicken breast and a trip to Aldi for our supplies and zip lock bags. I bagged fourteen freezer meals! Well, baby came, and the freezer crockpot meals got consumed so I bought another 40 lbs. of chicken breast and made our favorite meals again, knowing school was just around the corner in late summer.
Freezer meals are great; thaw, dump in the crockpot (or Instant Pot), and dinner is ready at dinner time. I always add some form of veggie or fruit from our weekly Misfit Market or CSA. Lately, we’ve been enjoying all the roasted veggies, and depending on the meal, we add a carb of sorts (noodles, rice, baked potatoes).
So here are our two favorite freezer crockpot meals:
~CAFE RIO CHICKEN (makes great sliders or tacos)
- 4-6 chicken breasts, washed and trimmed
- 1/2 bottle zesty Italian dressing (approx. 1 cup)
- 1 packet dry ranch dressing (approx. 3 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- Combine all ingredients in a freezer gallon Ziplock bag. Once Ziplock bag is closed, take your hands and combine all ingredients together well.
Crock Pot Cooking Instructions:
- Take the freezer meal out of the freezer an hour before starting OR run it under some room temperature water for about 15-30 seconds to get it to release from the sides of the bag. Dump meal in the crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours! Verify chicken is cooked through and shred!
~CROCKPOT BBQ CHICKEN (We enjoy on baked potatoes or “pulled” chicken sandwiches.)
- 4-6 chicken breasts, cleaned and trimmed
- 12 oz. BBQ sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (If you like it extra sweet, feel free to add a little more.)
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, adjust to liking
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions to Assemble:
- Once the chicken is cleaned, rub the breasts with the cayenne pepper. But if you’re in a hurry, you can just add the cayenne to the bag with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the chicken and the rest of the ingredients to a gallon Ziplock bag. Once the bag is closed, use your hands to mash all the ingredients together and to coat the chicken in the sauce.
Crock Pot Cooking Instructions:
- Take the freezer meal out of the freezer an hour before starting OR run it under some room temperature water for about 15-30 seconds. Dump meal in the crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours! After you’ve verified the chicken is cooked all the way through, shred and serve over rice!
Of course, there are tons of freezer crockpot meals out there, but these two, along with a few others, have been repeat hits for my whole family.
Another bonus with freezer meals, they are easy to share. Know a new mom, an elderly neighbor, someone who had surgery? Grab a meal out of the freezer, add a bag of steamable veggies and a bag of bread or rolls, and it’s the perfect drop-off meal, which takes no time or planning ahead.
Find the meals I shared above along with more at Over the Big Moon (https://overthebigmoon.com/super-fast-chicken-freezer-meals/)
Hope you enjoy one or more of these meals, or share a favorite below.
Abi (a little bit crazy) Frazee, is a sort of newish, homeschooling momma with three little crazy Frazees. Abi, her husband, Justin & kiddos reside in the mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and enjoy spontaneous field trips. Abi has a BA in Early Childhood Education, a MS in Special Education, and is a Certified Labor Doula; she uses her education, with past and present experiences to cultivate a love of learning & sharing. Love, Learn, Have Faith, Smile (& drink coffee!)