I love batch cooking because it lets me reach into the freezer on busy nights and have a home-cooked dinner ready in minutes. Batch cooking is preparing several meals at once.
You might spend one Saturday a month making several meals to freeze, or perhaps you cook a double batch each night to build up a freezer full of meals gradually. Maybe you cook dinner one night and plan to use the leftovers in a different recipe the next night. Whichever style works for you, batch cooking saves time, effort, and money. Food you make yourself is healthier too!
By preparing several meals at once, you can:
- Take advantage of featured sales at the grocery store.
- Make double or triple batches without spending extra time shopping or cooking.
- Clean up once.
- Prepare for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook, or life changes such as a new baby or a new job.
- Avoid eating fast food or frozen dinners with preservatives and crazy ingredients.
How to freeze food
When you make several meals at once, give careful thought to how you will freeze them. Use good quality containers or bags, and be sure to label your food, including the date. Try to minimize the amount of air in the container to prevent freezer burn. Some foods such as berries or muffins should be frozen on baking sheets before they are sealed together in bags so they won’t stick together. Frozen soups and casseroles generally keep for 2-3 months.
A good technique for freezing soup or chili is to ladle it into ziploc-style freezer bags. One quart-size bag will hold two generous adult servings. Write the name and date on them with a permanent marker. Then stack the bags flat to freeze them. They won’t take up much room in the freezer, and because the bags are thin, they defrost really quickly. To defrost, place the frozen bag of soup or chili in a sink of water for 30 minutes. Then pour it in a pot to heat up on the stove.
Preparations can be as simple as washing and chopping vegetables before they go into the fridge so they’re ready to add to a recipe later.
Try making your own mix for bread, muffins, cookies, or brownies.
Batch Cooking Works for Small Families Too
It’s hard to cook big amounts of food when you’re single or if you have a small family. The freezer is your friend. You can put your food in the freezer for later and eat it a week from now, instead of having the same food three nights in a row to finish up leftovers. Do you take your lunch to work? Perfect! Cook up your meals on Sunday, and you can store individual lunch portions in the freezer to grab on weekday mornings.
My family is small, so a roast beef or chicken can easily make several dinners. I like to use my crock pot so it can slow-cook while I work on something else.
Chicken can be served as a main course on one night, shredded for wraps on the second night, and the leftovers added to soup on the third night. One roast chicken recipe I enjoy only has two ingredients. Yes, two! This recipe could not get any easier, and I can’t even describe how good this chicken tastes. It’s a crowd-pleaser.
Favorite Two-Ingredient Roast Chicken
- 1 chicken
- 3 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
Sprinkle the seasoning over the chicken. Put it in the crock pot breast side down, and let it cook on low for 6 hours. To roast it in the oven instead of the crock pot, cover it and cook at 325 degrees (F) for 30 minutes per pound of chicken (2-3 hours).
Old Bay Seasoning is a mix of spices, and it does not have any MSG. It adds a great flavor to chicken.
I’ve shared a few ideas and one of my favorite recipes, now it’s your turn!