Slow Cooker Series: Sloppy Joes

Meal prep is something that lots of people are intimidated by at first. I know I was. I began meal prepping a few years ago because it cut the stress and indecisiveness of choosing my meals each day. It also kept me from eating out or eating a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner. Living by myself, planning meals was easy because I only had to think for one person. Moving in with my cousins, I now think for two teenage boys and a second adult. Weeknights can get crazy with after school activities when it's in session and I go through intense busy periods with work. Maintaining a meal plan keeps us all satisfied with healthy choices but sometimes you need a helping hand to get started and that's just fine. 

A site that I love for meal planning inspiration and tips is New Leaf Wellness. New Leaf Wellness is a website created by Kelly McNelis that shares healthy freezer meals. Kelly has all kinds of recipes that can be used in the slow cooker, on the stove or in the oven. Her cookbooks range from Asian-inspired to Meat-Free to 15-minute recipes. In the next few weeks, I'll be sharing my experience cooking through each of the four cookbooks in her eBook Bundle as well one of her favorite recipes. Her recipes are good for you, satisfying and taste amazing. Better yet, the ones I'll be sharing are all made for the slow cooker so you don't have to heat up your home during these hot summer months. They'd also be fantastic for weeknights when back to school starts.

All the books included in the eBook Bundle share tips on preparing and cooking freezer meals. "No Cook Freezer Meals" especially goes into detail. It also includes printable materials to help in your freezer meal prepping. This is the first time I have personally experimented with freezer meals. They always seemed like a lot of work to me but I was completely wrong. Normally, I spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour prepping for dinner each night. It took me two hours to prep five meals and 30 seconds to get them in the slow cooker to cook. It saves time and all the work is done so that you don't have to think about anything the night of.

The idea behind prepping freezer meals is to get a bunch of them done at once so that's exactly what I did. I prepared five meals, one for each post I'll be sharing, and marked them on the bag. Normally you'd include the expiration date on the label but since I knew I'd be using them in less than one month, I skipped that step. All the meals I'll be sharing are no-cook meaning they require no cooking before freezing. A few tips: use sturdy freezer-bags for your preparation, choose quality ingredients and clean out your freezer so that you have space to save them. At the end of the day, you can prep as many meals as you'd like as long as you have storage space for them. 

Each week will feature a meal from one of her cookbooks and my thoughts on the experience. Next week, I'll also be sharing a giveaway so you can win a eBook Bundle from Kelly to experience them for yourself. It includes more than 70 recipes, nutritional info and so much more. Make sure to stop by next week to check it out. Until then, here is this week's meal:

SLOPPY JOES from Kelly's Favorite Recipes
Kelly's Favorite Recipes is a thank you for purchasing her e-Book Bundle. It includes seven of her favorite slow cooker freezer recipes in her books including Chicken Spinach Alfredo, Super Simple Meatball Veggie Soup and Sloppy Joes. The recipes are printable and it even includes a grocery list in case you want to cook all seven meals. It also includes freezer labels for each of the meals with all the information you need on them. 

I will only be sharing one full recipe and since next week's is my personal favorite, I'll be holding off till then. Here are the ingredients for the Sloppy Joes:

  • 85% lean ground beef
  • Small Yellow Onion
  • Medium Bell Pepper
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

This meal goes right into the slow cooker and comes out a beauty. It's kid-friendly and absolutely delicious. I will give you this warning, your house will be mouth-watering an hour or so into the cooking process. and it's a long 8 hours at that. Don't say I didn't warn you. Serve with roasted potatoes and fresh green beans or your personal choice of sides. 

How do you like to save time during the week? Do you meal prep or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Tell me your tips and tricks in the comments below.