Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

slow cooker spaghetti sauce

Nothing beats a good plate of spaghetti and meat sauce.  It’s a comfort food at it’s finest!  Making a big pot of spaghetti sauce is also a great way to feed a crowd.  Delicious and frugal! While this recipe for slow cooker spaghetti sauce calls for peppers, you could throw in any veggies that you’d like to use up.  Such as a lone carrot or mushrooms.  It’s really flexible.

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe could be made in a big pot, but I prefer the set it and forget it feature of the slow cooker. :) But, you’ll still want to cook up the garlic, onions, beef and sausage before you throw it into the slow cooker. I use this Cuisinart programmable slow cooker, but any slow cooker will do.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup minced Onion
  • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  • Red and Yellow Peppers (stems and seeds removed)
  • 1 Carrot (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • 45 oz Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 24 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium.
  2. Crumble and brown ground beef and sausage, along with onion and garlic.
  3. Drain excess fat.
  4. Place meat mixture into slow cooker.
  5. Add remaining ingredients.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

This recipe could possibly make enough for leftovers that you can freeze!  I love grabbing a “pre-made” meal out of the freezer on busy days.  Simply reheat on the stove.

DIY: Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy

Unfortunately, as the weather gets cooler, cold &  flu season also approaches :( But, I’m going to try to be prepared by keeping this recipe on file!

Visit Nifty Thrifty Things for her recipe for a Lemon Ginger Cold Remedy!

Thanks, Mom :)

Free October 2014 Monthly Menu Planner

october meal plan

Download a free Monthly Meal Planner for the entire month of October!  Included in your download you will find all of this:

  • Meal Planner for 10/1/14 – 10/4/14
  • Meal Planner for 10/5/14 – 10/11/14
  • Meal Planner for 10/12/14 – 10/18/14
  • Meal Planner for 10/19/14 – 10/25/14
  • Meal Planner for 10/26/14 – 10/31/14
  • October Meal Planner Blanks
  • October Blank Week
  • Dessert Menu for October 2014
  • Dessert Calendar for October 2014
  • Select E.H.M. Recipes
  • Fill In the Blank Ingredients List – Entire Month
  • Fill in the Blank Ingredients List – Weekly
  • October 2014 Master Monthly Ingredients List
  • Blank Family Shopping List (Food, Sundries, you name it included)
  • Blank Costco Shopping List

How to Meal Prep for a Week

How to meal prep for a week

Preparing meals ahead of time can be a big time and money saver. You’re doing all of your cooking on one day, and will be saving money because you’re only buying the ingredients you know you need.

Cooking all your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week, in one day, may seem daunting, but with these tips you’ll be able to meal prep for a week and not have to wonder, “What’s for dinner?” anymore!

Find your recipes. Before even starting the process, you should print out the recipes you will be using for the week. This means printing or writing down recipes for all meals for 7 days. If you will be making snacks, like homemade granola bars or protein bars, print those recipes as well. Now you have a master list of all the ingredients you will need.

Divide up your grocery store list. Go through each recipe and categorize each item. Your grocery list should have sections broken down into protein, carbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other. Doing this will make it much easier (and quicker) to find the things you need when you’re at the grocery store.

Buy the right containers. If this is something you will be doing on a regular basis, you want to make sure you have durable containers that are made to last. Don’t skimp out on this.

Cut your vegetables and fruits. Once you’re back from the grocery store, start by chopping up your vegetables and fruits. Organize them by whether you’re using them as a snack or will be using them as ingredients in a meal.

Use the oven. The oven is great for baking meats, potatoes, vegetables and more. Make a list of every item that needs to go in the oven and put it all in. If your oven is going to be on, you might as well cook everything at once!

Use your slow cooker. Many people who meal prep like to make freezer meals. This can be preparing something, like meatballs, and freezing them to cook at a later date, or preparing an entire meal which will then be thawed and cooked. If you have a slow cooker, doing this is especially easy. Take a look at my post 9 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals or you could Google slow cooker freezer meals to find recipes. Even if you don’t want to freeze your meals, you can still prepare all of the ingredients you’ll need and use your slow cooker to cook the meal. It will save you time all week!

Use different seasonings. One can only eat so much plain chicken. When you go grocery shopping, make sure to pick up different seasonings for each meal. Get creative with how you season or marinate your protein options.

Make one huge dish. If you don’t want to prepare 5 different dinner options, you can make enough of one recipe that will last you a few days. Find one you really like and cook it in bulk. If you have meals or items that will last longer than 3 days, put the leftovers in the freezer and cook it when you’re ready.

Make grab and go meals. The last step is to just divide everything up into your containers. Take each meal and put it in a container so it is ready to go for each day of the week.

Meal prep can be a great way to save time throughout the week. Although it may take a full day on the weekend, once you know what meals you’re making and what ingredients you’ll need, you’ll become more efficient at it. No more worrying about what’s for lunch or dinner!

Do you do any sort of meal prep at your home?  What does your current system look like?

Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning

NonPlanningMenuPlan

Do you like the idea of planning a regular menu, but have difficulty with actually making plans or sticking with them? Check out this Non Planner’s Guide to Menu Planning over at I Heart Planners.

September Menu Plan Inspiration from Canadian Living

canadian living menu plan

I thought you all would enjoy this menu planning inspiration I found over at Canadian Living!

Canadian Living has created 22 Quick and Easy weeknight dinners to help carry you through dinner time in September!  Each weekly plan even includes a grocery list!

How easy will this make your menu planning?  I’m going to be using this as a guide, but I’ll have to swap out a couple of meals that won’t appeal to the majority of this household.

Slow Cooker Freezer Cooking: 9 Meals in About an Hour

With summer wrapping up and the back to school rush beginning, there’s no better time to get the dinner time chaos under control. Give this Slow Cooker Freezer cooking plan a try and have 9 meals ready and waiting!
Slow Cooker Freezer Cooking: 9 Meals in About an Hour!

I really wanted to try to get dinner time more under control and I know for me, having prepared meals (homemade and store bought) in the freezer really help me out.  While store bought foods, (think frozen pizza, perogies…etc.) are okay with me once in a while, I love to have homemade meals on the table most nights.

I’ve been seeing freezer cooking posts all over Pinterest lately and knew I had to jump on that band wagon.  Freezer cooking is a great solution to my problem and I haven’t intentionally stocked my freezer with meals since before my daughter was born.

Another one of my favourite things is using the slow cooker.  I love the ease of just throwing things into the slow cooker, turning it on, then coming back at dinner time to dish up!  Sure makes that 5pm toddler crazy time more bearable. :)

So, with those two things in mind, I created a plan for 9 slow cooker freezer meals that I’d love to share with you all!

The plan consists of some of our tried and true favourite family meals.  Here are the meals you will be making if you so wish to join in:

  • Peanut Chicken
  • Beef Roast and Carrots
  • Chicken Tortilla soup
  • Honey Garlic Chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken Vegetable Curry
  • Beef Stew
  • Baked Beans
  • Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

I hope you’ll enjoy them just as much as we do!  (It’s actually 10 meals because the size I roll meatballs makes that recipe enough for two meals)

Click here to download the grocery list, recipes and labels.

All told, everything cost me under $100.  The cost could be much less since I didn’t purchase any of the meat on sale.  I also purchased everything from the Real Canadian Superstore for the sake of time. I think you’ll have many of the ingredients on hand already which also makes the costs go down.

Since nothing in this freezer cooking plan has to be cooked beforehand, I think the best use of your time would be to chop the veggies and meat first. Then for any recipe that requires a sauce, mix those up.  Finally, throw all the veggies and meat into a freezer bag and pour the sauces over top!  Simple as that!

As for the labels included in the plan, simply cut them out, then place them on the freezer bags and use clear packing tape to cover.

Click here to download the grocery list, recipes and labels.

So what do you think?  Will you be trying this out?  What are your favourite freezer meals?

Slow Cooker Freezer Cooking: 9 Meals in about an Hour!

Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce and Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are here for a visit this week with our two nieces.  In honour of the occasion, I fully intend on having them over for an ice cream sundae party!  At least once, probably twice because I love ice cream.  A lot.  Also because ice cream sundae parties are so much fun with all the topping selections available!  I stopped in at Bulk Barn and picked up a bunch of fun toppings.  Along with the candies and nuts I purchased, I’m going to whip up some slow cooker caramel sauce and homemade hot fudge sauce.  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce

You’re not going to believe this one, but this slow cooker caramel sauce (or Dulce de Leche) uses only one ingredient! (Two if you add the vanilla)  It’s so so easy to make AND eat :)  Here’s how to make slow cooker caramel sauce:

Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ¾ tsp Vanilla (optional)
Instructions
  1. Transfer condensed milk to three ½ pint mason jars and put on the lids and rings.
  2. Place in slow cooker and cover with water. (About an inch above the jars)
  3. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
  4. Remove from water and allow to cool until the jars are room temperature.
  5. Carefully remove rings and lids.
  6. Add ¼ tsp of vanilla to each jar (optional).
  7. Stir well until sauce is smooth.
  8. To store, replace, lid and ring and store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

This recipe is my husband’s personal favorite. He loves hot fudge sauce!  He’s even convinced me on several occasions to get hot fudge instead of my usual caramel when we stop at Dairy Queen.  Here’s how to make homemade hot fudge sauce:

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • ⅛ tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Melt chocolate chips by heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds then stirring and microwaving again until chocolate is melted.
  2. Transfer to a sauce pan over low heat and add butter, salt and sugar.
  3. Add cream in small amounts until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Stir frequently until heated, but not boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

I’ll be sure to post pictures of our ice cream sundae party later on.  I even found some cute ice cream bowls from the dollar store!  Which sauce is going to be your favourite?

Prep 16 Freezer Meals in an Hour

freezer-slow cooker meals

Freezer cooking is a great way to save if you’re on a budget and short on time! Head on over to Midget Momma to see how she prepped 16 freezer slow cooker meals with fresh ingredients in about an hour!

DIY: Italian Seasoning Mix

Italian Seasoning Mix

If your household is a fan of Italian dressing, this Italian Seasoning Mix is going to save you a lot of money over time!  It’s perfect if you’re on a budget and you keep finding yourself buying the expensive bottles at the grocery store.

While this recipe is meant to be mixed up as a liquid dressing, I’m sure sprinkling the spice mix over veggies or meat would be just as wonderful.  We like to use Italian dressing as salad dressing (of course) and even as a marinade for chicken!  Hint: throw some chicken breast into a freezer bag, pour this Italian dressing over top, then seal the bag and toss it into the freezer for a really quick freezer meal! It cooks up well in the slow cooker.

Italian Seasoning Mix
 
Ingredients
  • Dry Mix:
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • ¼ tsp Ground Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • ¼ tsp Celery Salt
  • 1½ tbsp Salt
  • For dressing:
  • 2 tbsp Dry Mix (above)
  • ¼ cup Cider Vinegar
  • ⅔ cup Oil
  • 2 tbsp Water
Instructions
  1. Combine Dry Mix ingredients and store in airtight container.
  2. To make dressing, combine ingredients in a bottle and shake well.

 

Check out my easy recipe for homemade Ranch mix. Do you have any creative uses for Italian seasoning/dressing?
DIY Italian Seasoning Mix