As a caregiver, I am always looking for ideas to make the day easier. And one of the most problematic parts of the day is the age old question…
What’s for dinner?
Who wants to deal with the stress of dinner, after a long, exhausting day?
When you have a lot on your plate and you’re running all over the place trying to deal with a million things…
The last thing you want to deal with when you finally get home is cooking dinner.
I just want a home-cooked meal that doesn’t require a ton of my time and energy. Seriously, is that too much to ask?
Even if you have a meal plan routine established, you still have to cook it. It’s either that or take out which is not usually healthy meals, is way too expensive and gets old after a while.
This is especially helpful if you’re in a dinner rut. Right now in my house, we are literally sick of everything. Even things that we love like taco salad, no one wants to eat anymore.
Dinner time has been feeling like one of the more stressful parts of the day. I spend time cooking, but no one wants to eat it. And if you ask them what they do want… they say “I don’t care, whatever.”
It’s annoying and frustrating, and it’s a huge issue for me. At the end of a long day, who has the ambition to cook a two hour meal with all the fixings? I want to spend less time in the kitchen, not more.
I needed a different plan.
Ready Made Meal Kits
I decided to try these crock pot dinners from What a Crock Meals. I’ve previously used meal kits like Hello Fresh which I loved, but I got a lot of “what’s that, is that onions?” so I’d end up cooking two meals.
Hello Fresh dinners are amazing, but you’ve also got to cook them from scratch. There’s some prep work, usually multiple pots and pans and about 45 minutes to an hour later I would have these incredible dinners (and several dishes to clean).
I also tried Factor 75 meals (which is one of those prepared meal delivery services). Those are supposed to be like chef-designed recipes healthy gourmet TV dinners. You toss them in the microwave for a few minutes and your whole meal is ready including protein, sides, and veggies. They have a bunch of different choices for meals, so I figured I’d give it a whirl.
They were great for super quick lunches and easy dinners.
There was just one problem, by the second day I was sick to death of Factor 75 meals… and I still had a week of dinners left.
Home Cooked Meals
I tried What A Crock Meals with no real expectation if this was gonna be good or not. The only thing I knew is that crock pot cooking has saved dinner for us a number of times… Because it’s so easy.
You barely have to do anything. There’s no meal prep, and it takes minimum effort to create a full meal. Just dump your ingredients in the crock pot in the morning turn it on, and come home to the incredible smell of whatever is cooking.
And if you use these high temperature crockpot liners which cover the inside of the crockpot while you’re cooking, THERE IS NO CLEAN-UP. You simply remove the bag, tie it up and toss it in the garbage. It’s a great way to make the cleanup quick and easy.
Within minutes you’ve created a full, delicious meal for the whole family that requires no time and energy from you. Set it and forget it, until it’s time for dinner. Easy meal plans, seriously.
It’s a great option for busy lifestyles like caregivers who spend every second dealing with stuff. It’s nice when dinner becomes the thing you don’t have to struggle with…
Because really, you get sick of hearing…
“What is that?”
“I’m not eating that.”
I just wanted something to take the stress out of dinner.
Slow Cooker Meals
I ordered a few meals from What a Crock to give it a whirl and see how they would go. I started with Grandma’s Homemade Meatballs and Chicken Noodle Soup with egg noodles (you get your choice of rice or egg noodles).
The box arrived similar to the Hello Fresh box (packed inside of a box with a large ice pack to keep it cold and a quick and easy set of instructions).
As I started pulling the food out of the box, I noticed it was packed directly inside a thick plastic meal bag. Imagine a sealed freezer bag but thicker and sturdier.
I transferred the frozen meals to the freezer and that was it.
There’s Two Ways to Cook Them
On the day I planned to cook them, I actually got a chance to read the stickers that were pasted on each bag.
Turns out there are two ways to cook these 2 meals…
You can toss them in the crockpot, set it and forget it.
You can cook them on the stove (right in the bag) in a pot of boiling water and it’s done in 30 minutes.
I cooked them both using the 30 minute option since again, I really didn’t have to do anything…
This was the actual cooking process I did…
- I boiled a large pot of water.
- I put the bag in.
- I set a timer for 30 minutes.
- When it was done, I pulled the bag out and dumped it into a bowl.
I had two pots and a few plates to clean up which I tossed in the dishwasher. That’s it.
P.S. I’m ordering again this week, but it doesn’t look like every dinner has the “boil in the bag option” so more on that as I update this post.
Homemade Grandma’s Meatballs
I ordered 2 portions of these which easily served 3 people. And we are not “standard portion” people. We like food, so a regular sized portion is not going to cut it in this house.
The meatballs were HUGE. And the meal came with 4 massive meatballs per serving.
My 17-year old who complains about everything, RAVED about these meatballs and asked me to get them again. Trust me, that’s a high recommendation.
I agree, the meatballs were delicious and I was surprised by the flavor in the red sauce (which I’m normally really picky about) but it was good and had a nice flavor.
I was even more surprised that they sent me two servings of uncooked pasta to go with it. When I ordered, I didn’t actually read the description, so I didn’t expect full pasta dishes, just the meatballs.
I ditched the Pene they sent and used it later in the week for another meal. I traded out with some thin spaghetti (because there’s just something about spaghetti and meatballs) and had plenty of sauce and meatballs to feed the 3 of us (with a bit left over).
It was a really great, quick, and easy family dinner (with no dinner prep!) that I would absolutely do again.
Chicken Noodle Soup
It was really good. Warm and soothing on a freezing cold day right in the middle of winter. I made this to go with homemade Italian subs and it was perfect.
Easiest dinner ever.
This was another boil-in-the-bag meal, I ordered two servings so it came with two bags of uncooked egg noodles on the side.
The directions are written on everything in an easy-to-digest format.
The pene, egg noodles, and both bags of frozen food were clearly marked with clear directions and easy steps to follow.
My husband could easily do this. On nights when I’m away overnight, I usually expect to come home to an expensive take out bill. Even if I stock the place with easy meals he can make, after a few days they still usually order out.
This is better than take out.
It’s quicker and takes less effort than running in to pick up the food or even getting in the car to cruise through a fast food drive-thru.
I tossed the bag in the boiling water and spent the rest of the time watching re-runs of The Closer on my iPhone.
Dinner was stress-free, and WAY less hectic.
They have a TON of amazing menu options, but I’ve made a list below of the crock pot meals I’ve already ordered and can’t wait to try…
Nutrition and Cost of Meals
***The price was less than $160 for the order below (the number of portions I ordered was based on who would eat what, as I have a lot of picky eaters). And we scored a free dip and free shipping (which was $26 on the first order). I would pay way more in the grocery store for all this food.
*** You can also view all of the nutrition and allergy information for each of these ready meals by clicking the Nutrition and Allergen Tab under each meal in the menu.
These crockpot meals I’ve already ordered and are on the way.
- Shrimp Scampi I was beyond excited to try this! I wanted to LOVE it, but I didn’t. The flavor was bland and it just wasn’t my favorite. I would skip this.
- Chicken Parm Meatballs These were the ABSOLUTE BEST MEATBALLS I’ve ever had. Everyone raved about dinner the night we had these (and I have some tough critics). Highly recommend these, you’ll be glad you tried them!
- Jerk Chicken
- Chicken Pot Pie Stew
- Three Cheese Mac and Cheese (the kids will love that).
- Aus Jus Buttermilk Steak (Looks like flank steak, I’m excited to try it. My friend Tammy, raved about this one!)
- Buffalo Chicken Dip (we got this for free because of my order size)
- Sweet and Smoky Riblets
- French Toast Bread Pudding
- Brisket Fajita
The next round of dinners we plan to try…
- Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork (not my thing, but my husband will love that).
- Chicken Perogi Stew
- Southwest Smoked Chicken Chili
- Chicken Marsala
- Beef Overstuffed Peppers
- Grandma’s Meatballs again.
P.S. I made an order with the items listed above and I’ll update this post with all the details as we try them. Also, we scored free shipping (which was over $26 on my first order) and a free Buffalo Chicken dip. The total price for everything was less than $160 for a TON of food. For that price, and the fact that they offer a lot of deals it’s definitely worth trying these dinners.
Stay tuned for updates as we try the rest of these dinners out! 🙂
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