Friday, January 20, 2012

Cooking with Courage

After hearing about so many of my friends buying their groceries once a week, once every two weeks, or even ONCE A MONTH, I decided to look into it, try it, and see if it could really save me money. Now, we live right down the street from three different grocery stores and absolutely don't have the space for a month's worth of food, so shopping only once a month isn't really practical for us at this time, so I tried about 2+ weeks. I planned out my meals (thanks to Pinterest), wrote out my grocery list, and went out for a torturous shopping trip. This was exactly 10 days ago.

That evening I spent chopping and freezing six crock pot meals, taking a total of five hours from beginning to end. And that night, we ate frozen pizza, because who has time to make a meal, while they're currently making six? I wasn't convinced that this bulk shopping was going to save me money, and I wasn't convinced that all this work in one day was going to be worth it, but I was willing to give it an honest try. And I have learned some very important lessons, I will share with you tonight.

In 10 days, due to left overs and eating out once with my parents, I've made six different meals. I love trying new recipes, but of these six, only two stood out as recipes I'd ever make again; only one completely avoided the trash. The slow cooker chicken enchilada casserole was bad, but edible and since it lasted three nights, we choked most of it down. Sour cream was our saving grace there. However, nothing could have prepared me for the hot mess that was tonight's dinner. I would like to credit the blogger, but I won't, because she's apparently a very notable blogger, and I don't want to embarrass her. Also, I'm wondering if such a meal is just something that most people either love or hate. OR maybe it's something, like chicken enchiladas, which should never be made in a crock pot.

So tonight, for the first time, I tried chicken curry. It was a slow cooker freezer recipe. It seemed harmless enough, and even smelled good while I was adding all the ingredients into the freezer bag. This morning I pulled it out of the freezer, let it thaw for about 30 minutes, per blog instructions, then dumped it into the crock pot all day. It smelled potent, but good right up until I lifted the lid. Then I became nauseous with the strength of the stench. I still figured I'd give it the benefit of the doubt. I served it up after the proper amount of cooking time. We all sat, and stared, and smelled it. It looked like vomit with a few vegetables floating around. We all took our "no thank you" bites, and had our respective gag reflexes, and I found myself heading out to Wegman's, in a snow storm, for some frozen pizza.

There's a reason hungry people shouldn't go grocery shopping, and hunger combined with the taste and smell of something awful clinging to you, is a recipe for disaster. I couldn't even think straight at the grocery store. I was like a kid in the candy shop, bouncing from one side of the store to the other, smelling the curry with every move I made. After about 30 minutes (remember I originally only went for frozen pizza), I left Wegman's with three different kinds of cooked sushi, two boxes of Fruit Flats, one rather large round loaf of pumpernickel bread with dill dip, a bag of Doritos, some Keebler cookies, five lemons (to make lemon water to combat the chicken curry induced nausea (ironically an idea I found from the very same chicken curry blogger)), TWO frozen pizzas with vegetable toppings so I wouldn't feel like a horrible mother, and toilet paper because I remembered, just before checking out, that we were on our last roll.

I made it home safely and we had a delicious, eclectic dinner around 7:30; the four of us, and the curry smell that has now taken up residence in our apartment.

What I've learned from all this? Slow cooker freezer meals are overrated. So far only one of those meals (Jambalaya) has been a minor success, which means my five hours spent in the kitchen, cramping from the chopping, where a waste of my time. Also, bulk grocery shopping and meal planning can and will save you money if you stick to meals you know are good. If you don't count tonight's desperation, I've only made one other trip to the store in 10 days, and that was just for milk, juice, and bread. You just can't try to get all fancy-chef-pants like I did. If you do decide to get all fancy-chef-pants, do it for maybe one meal a week (not the whole two week's worth of meal planning), then be sure to keep frozen pizzas in your freezer for such disasters as these, so you don't find yourself out in a snow storm, going stark raving mad at all the palatable possibilities at the store.

Thus the second pizza I bought tonight. I have not yet finished going through the new recipes I shopped for ten days ago, and now, that pizza in the freezer gives me the courage I need to press onward.

In case you're wondering about the winning recipe; the one in which not a single drop of leftovers hit the trash can: Buffalo Chicken Chowder. Not only palatable, but perfection *kisses fingers*. Fond memories of that are what got me through tonight, and still get me through, as I sit here and smell tonight's disaster with every keystroke. 


  1. Food shopping for a month takes a lot of practice and you are well on you way... even if it's not for the whole month. I pack mule it because I don't like to go to the store so when I go... it looks like I am getting ready for some fall out :) The hardest part for me is getting home and separating all the meat into meal sizes and if I am thinking about it, I will add the spices or marinade at that time. But doing that saves time and is still flexible enough that you can use it for different recipes depending on what you are in the mood for that night. I love cooking in a crock pot too but there are so few recipes that actually work out well so I am still practicing too :) Good luck!

  2. Curry powder is a tricky spice to work with. Liking it really depends on what it's composed of since, technically, curry is just a mixture of various spices. If you find a blend that is composed of spices you like, especially as the main spice, you could absolutely fall in love with curry. You could also make your own out of spices that you know you love. I personally really like McCormick brand curry powder; it's main spice is coriander and I think it holds a wonderful flavor. I would try to experiment with different curry powders a little more if I were you, you just might find a way to love it!

    1. I figure there must be a way to make it good, because many people like it. The curry spice I bought was McCormick's, but this recipe called for other seasonings as well as a mixture of fruits and vegetables with the chicken in the crock pot. It was a really strange recipe, and I should have known better. If I ever try curry again, I'll get a recipe from someone I know who has already made it and loved it!

    2. I have [what I believe to be] a really great porkchop recipe that involves curry. I can give it to you if you'd like to try it!

    3. Sure! I'll take it! Thanks! :)