Well, summer is more than half way through and I’m sad to say that I “fell off the wagon” as far as my summer meny planning went. I think I’m back on track for August now with a freezer full of pre-made slow cooker meals, a new slow cooker (will tell you about that dilemma below) and a few great BBQ options thrown in for some variety.
My freezer packed up with tasty meals!
I’m sure many people experience the same crunch come summer. I’ve certainly read about it on a few other blogs that I follow. For me this summer has been almost a complete failure in the world of meal planning. That said at least I can pinpoint my downfall, and I am going to share it with you now!
It all started in June. I’d been doing the freezer-to-slow cooker thing for a few months at that point and had a bunch of unused meals still frozen in my freezer. Not having a ton of extra space I decided to take a month off of prepping new freezer meals so we could finish up the few that we had left. I planned to fill in the gaps with other simple but made-that-day meals.
As it turns out about half way through June my slow cooker died. Boo. Now I have to say that while you may be surprised I was not. Not. At. All. You see I seem to have a knack for killing small kitchen appliances. While this is the first slow cooker I’ve killed, in the last two years we’ve been through at least 4 immersion blenders, and prior to owning my Kitchen Aid mixer I destroyed about 1 hand mixer every six months to year.
How you ask do I trash small kitchen appliances? I don’t know. I would generally consider myself fairly competent in the kitchen, and I enjoy cooking/baking, so while we often joke around here about “Cynthia’s Char & Serve” and our love of “Cajun” (i.e. burnt) food the truth is that charred or “Cajun” style meals are really a rarity around here. Don’t believe me, ask around it’s ok. I have nothing to hide.
I’m going to venture a guess that my ability to burn out small appliances is just over use. Maybe lack of quality? Sometimes it’s hard to justify spending much on it when the last one only lasted 6 months. The slow cooker I think was a variety of things, over use, under filling, and age. It was only a $20-$30 slow cooker to begin with and was at least 8 years old. Being a 6 quart slow cooker it was also regularly only half full which as I understand isn’t great for them.
All that said, July rolled around and I found myself without a slow cooker. With a number of other extra expenses in July I opted out of the slow cooker plan in favor of make it that day kind of meals. I also started a new job as a fitness coach/personal trainer. That was not a great combination for us.
Butter Chicken cooking in my NEW slow cooker
As we adjusted to my new work schedule which includes a couple early morning, and some evenings in the week I found myself really missing my easy slow cooker meals. I also found myself unmotivated to prepare the meals that I had planned regardless of how little prep-time they took. Out of sheer laziness I often opted to throw the meat on the BBQ, chop some veggies and forget the plan.
July came to a close and August rolled around and I knew I needed to do SOMETHING about our dinner plans. So I ordered an inexpensive Slow Cooker from Amazon.ca (seriously it was like $25, it’s simple but it does what I need it to so what more can I ask). AND it’s literally half the size of the one we had before so now when I fill it it’s actually FULL which is supposed to be better for the cooker. FYI filling this full is STILL way more food than the three of us will eat in one meal.
I also picked up an Epicure Burger Press from my friend Nikki Rekman early this summer and let me tell you I will never buy store bought burgers again (I rarely did anyway but now I really have no excuse). I LOVE it. Homemade burgers are SO simple to make with that thing. I make a bunch and freeze them flat w/ cardboard in between layers of burgers and we just pull out the number we want on cooking day. It makes it JUST as easy as pre-made store bought burgers and WAY healthier because I know exactly what’s in them. I have however found that it doesn’t work great with ground chicken. Ground chicken is much stickier than ground beef and it sticks in the press and to the burger separators really badly so they don’t actually turn out very burger shaped. Still experimenting with that one a little. Maybe if I freeze them in the press and then push them out…
My Epicure Burger Press ready for action
So, how have you done this summer? Has it been hard to stay on-track, or do you find menu planning easier through the summer months than the fall/winter season? Let me know how you succeeded, or where you’ve struggled, I’d love to hear from you!