What is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking is relatively simple. It is producing enough meals to last your family a certain number of days.
There are some families that chose to batch cook a week’s worth of meals at a time. Families that chose to batch cook for an entire month at a time. People like me, that do a little here and there. Selectively.
Batch Cooking Saves Time and Money
Raise your hand if you have guiltily feed your family fast food meals, simply because you were too tired. How about missing an ingredient to prepare your meal, or just running short on time?
This practice becomes expensive over time and it is robbing your family of some well-earned fun money.
Having something nice and home cooked for dinner that they can pull from the freezer helps families stay within budget.
Time For Cooking and Prepping
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that planning is the key. You will need to set aside a day (or two) for the cooking when nothing else is on the calendar.
It is simply too difficult to see to all the details if you are planning your cooking event around car pools, soccer games, or dance practices. You need a full day that will be relatively uninterrupted.
If you have a spouse, partner, or family member that can take the children for the day this will be the ideal situation.
Otherwise, be sure to have plenty of distractions on hand for the little ones or find a way to enlist their help with any cutting, chopping, slicing, dicing, or peeling that may need to be done.
Watch Your Sales
Watch the sale ads to stretch your dollar and plan your meals around the sale. When ground beef is on sale, buy it and have all your menu ideas laid out for dishes you can make.
I find it easy to fry up 10 pounds of ground beef at one time. Separate the meat out into meals and add the sauces or seasoning.
I will divide it up for 2 meals of tacos, spaghetti, pizza burgers, sloppy joes and lasagna meat. Now, I have effectively used one pan to cook the meat for 8 out of 10 meals.
I can then freeze all the meat mixes, except the lasagna meat. I would then make up two pans of lasagna and freeze those.
On the day I would like to make tacos, I would just reach in the freezer and grab the meat mixture. Place the frozen meat mixture in my crockpot that is set to low and let it warm up all day. When I return, the meat will be finished.
Planning a Menu and Shopping
You should also create a thorough menu followed by a list of each and every ingredient you will need.
Shopping needs to be done on a day other than when you are planning to cook. This means that you aren’t likely to rush through the shopping trip and forget something as a result.
Bring your menu and your list and get everything you need in one trip whenever possible.
You can also save money by planning your meals for the month according to the sales circulars and coupons you have for the week in order to stretch your budget a little further.
Gathering The Dishes and Containers
Finally, you need to make sure that you have all the supplies, dishes, and freezer containers (amazon link) you need in order to prepare and store the meals you’ve prepared properly.
You should also make sure that the recipes you are using for your once a month cooking marathon are recipes that freeze well.
It is even better if you have recipes that double well so that you can get twice the results from the same effort.
Prepare Your Kitchen
You should also make sure you are mentally prepared for your marathon cooking session.
Beginning with a nice and tidy kitchen is a great start. Folding card tables make an excellent flat surface for storing things out of the way and freeing up valuable counter space for preparing and assembling the foods that will be prepared.
You should also utilize as many appliances in your kitchen as possible for maximum efficiency. Don’t limit all cooking to the oven.
Find dishes that freeze well and can be prepared in the crock pot or on the range top.
Batch cooking is a challenge but many women will agree it is well worth the effort on those nights when the thought of cooking seems unbearable and the wallet has been stretched to its limit.
If you would feel overwhelmed cooking meals for an entire month, start slow.
Cook six pounds of ground hamburger meat and divide it out into meals you could make with 1 pound of crumbled meat.
Maybe two tacos, two sloppy joes and two pans of lasagna. Freeze 1 of each of the meals for later in the month. Use the other three meals this week.
Take it from me, the time it takes you to plan and prep will most certainly be a reward in itself on a day you are feeling ill, have a soccer game to attend; or where family members are in and out at different times.