Batch Cooking: A Collection of Tips

bowl of tomatoes

photo by jacki-dee

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.

Preparing Food

CSA Vegetables
photo by thebittenword.com
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!

What do you do in advance to save time cooking dinner?  What are your favorite foods to prepare and freeze?  Any great tips or techniques for batch cooking?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Beautiful photo of tomatoes!

    I batch cook and portion out in ziploc bags and little tupperware containers. I do ground beef, putting a cup into each ziploc bag. I roast a whole chicken, dice it, and do the same. Pasta sauce and pizza sauce, chicken broth (from the roasted whole chicken), and breads like banana and apple. Muffins, too.

    And of course, homemade pureed baby food!

  2. I knew there was a reason I bought two whole chickens on my last trip to the store besides the fact that they were on sale. I am going to get one going this morning in my crockpot.

    I like to double the recipe when I bake so that 1/2 can be frozen. Otherwise, I’m up for some new suggestions.

  3. I am honestly not an expieranced batch-cooker. I will be finding this entry very useful and all comments made. Truly the only things I have batch-cooked are Potato Soup and Spaghetti Sauce.

    I was lucky and have a Grandmother from Italy who always made the best food. Especially her Spaghetti Sauce. Every 2-3 months I make a huge sauce pan of spaghetti sauce and freeze it into servings for spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli’s, etc. I also got a delicious Potato soup recipe from my Grandmother that freezes very well too. I make a lot of Potato Soup during the winter months.

  4. My favorite from the freezer dish is meatballs. I use my mom’s recipe (except I use ground turkey) and always make extra to freeze. It’s easy to defrost and I’m never too tired to boil some water for spaghetti.

  5. ooo! i make old bay chicken too! although i use about 1/4 cup of the seasoning.

    one thing that has helped me is buying lots of boneless chicken breasts when they are on sale. i cut them so they are thin, then i pound them even thinner between two sheets of wax paper. i lay then on sheets of wax paper and freeze them. when they are frozen, i put 6-7 in a ziploc. it’s a lot of prep, but when i’m sauteing chicken for my girls, or to put on a big salad it’s easy to grab a bag and let it thaw during the day.

    i also divide up other meats into portions that suit our family. and i do it within a day of buying. it’s such a big time saver.

  6. I’ve never heard of Old Bay Chicken…. I will have to go on a hunt for the spice.

    Honestly, I don’t do much batch cooking. (I make freezer jam – does that count?) I’ve got issues with freezer burn. Maybe I’ll have to try this. Do you ever notice a taste difference between the fresh one and one you took from the freezer?

  7. My preferred method of batch cooking is to cook once and use the leftovers in other meals/recipes. I’ve posted my favorite batch cooking recipe on my blog today.

    http://3blondesandthelaw.blogspot.com/2008/08/batch-cooking.html

  8. Great ideas so far, and Nancy I like your recipe!

  9. I tend to batch cook for the week, but I would prefer to start working further ahead. By weekly batch cooking, I’m referring more to what Nancy’s talking about, where I choose my meals for the week to take advantage of the same one or two main ingredients to cut down on prep work. I am going to try and start a monthly menu plan this month (I know, I’m behind already!) and hope to make extra for the freezer based on this additional pre-planning.

    I love Old Bay too!

  10. when i’m making a dish that will freeze easily (like lasagna, enchiladas or baked ziti) i try to go ahead and make two of them. one to eat that night and another for the freezer. it works great but i don’t do it very often so i don’t get the benefits of really batch cooking. i just get a night off every once in a while. i would really like to do more batch cooking. what a time saver! i’m looking forward to some great ideas and recipes from this post. i’ve learned a lot all ready!

  11. These were some really great tips — thanks! I’ve been trying to find ways to be more frugal in general, and more creative in the kitchen, and your posts have really helped! :)

  12. I live by myself, and I love to batch cook. I tend to make some dish that takes time on a Sunday, make five or six portions, bag them up individually and throw them in the freezer. Over the course of a few weeks, that means I get a good rotation of dinners during the week! Currently in my freezer I have portions of: turkey meatballs, stuffed cabbage, lentil stew, sloppy joe meat sauce, bolognese sauce, ratatouille tart and chicken soup.

    To answer Dana’s point, I find that you have to experiment with your favourite recipes to see which ones will freeze well. Sometimes it just doesn’t work (I really hate defrosted roast chicken), and sometimes it does taste different but you like the new taste just as well! In general, foods with a high water content (soups, non-cream sauces) will do well, whereas foods that rely on a crisp or crunchy texture… not so good.

  13. Momscheap says:

    I batch cook homemade pizza crusts and add fresh toppings. Works well for a fast meal.

    I do chili too, but I’ve never tried freezing it in bags. Will have to try since it is almost chili season again. My DS hates chili, but everyone else loves it. He just gets ppj on those nights.

    I’ve also batch prepared lunch sandwhiches in the past. They defrost suprisingly well. I make them when deli turkey is on sale. Humus and tuna sandwiches also freeze well. Just pull them out the night before when you make lunches. I also will freeze cookies in single serving baggies. So I can pull a variety of lunch ingredients out of the freezer 0okkkkkkkkkkkkkiloluio09tyrwq67uyjhykjl

  14. Momscheap says:

    My DD just helped with the comment :)

  15. Momscheap says:

    Burritos. I forgot burritos. I’ll make bean, rice, veggie, and cheese filling and wrap up about 40. I wrap them up in foil and then put them in zippies in meal size portions. They go directly from the freezer to a cookie sheet and cook in about 25 min. Easy dinner on the go and easy, easy prep.

  16. Good insights for Dana’s question, Naomi! I find that sometimes soups or chili taste better after being frozen. I think the reason is that the flavors have had more time to come together. Foods with a bread topping don’t work too great for me.

    Batch cooking is great for making individual portions to take to work for lunches, if you have a microwave available.

    Momscheap — Lane often helps me type too. Burritos sound good, and tamales freeze well too.

  17. Soup–especially mushroom/barley or mushroom/rye berry soup. As long as you’re chopping all those shrooms, cutting up two pounds vs one isn’t that big a deal, and cooking extra rye berries isn’t extra effort–but the end result is so delicious. Then I just pick up a loaf of yummy fresh bread from the local bakery and we have an amazing meal!

  18. I found this cookbook and since they tested out hundreds of different recipes to see which freeze best they always come out well when you cook them. It is called The Best Make Ahead Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated. Definitely worth it if you are into making things ahead of time.

  19. Every week I buy, typically, two different heads of lettuce and one big bunch of spinach. This costs me about $4.50. I chop and clean them all with my handy-dandy salad spinner. This gives me a salad for my lunch each day, and two dinner salads each night. I buy different vegetables each week to use in the salads and prep them at the same time I do the greens.

    This week I’m experimenting with freezing bread. I bought a loaf of sourdough for sandwiches/toast and challah for french toast. I’m hoping that by slicing and wrapping them in pairs I’ll be able to get my monies worth from a loaf without having to gorge on it before it goes bad!

    Some of my favorite recipes for making freezable meals are:
    Spinach & Feta Hand-pies
    Eggplant Bolognese (ate this from the freezer last night!)
    Salmon Burgers
    Vegetable Chili
    Spinach Lasagna
    Southwestern Turkey Burgers
    Vegetable Enchiladas
    Red & Black Bean Pie
    Tuna Casserole
    Rosemary Meatballs
    Bean Burritos
    Wheat Pancakes
    Bolognese Sauce (my husbands favorite!)

  20. The most useful thing I prepare in large batches to freeze is meat.

    I have several favorite ‘pantry’ recipes. Most of the ingredients called for are items I keep on hand (onion, garlic, celery, canned tomatoes, pasta, grains etc.). Not having to cook ground beef or chicken to add saves so much prep time, not to mention the clean up.

  21. Thanks for the great tips and the beautiful tomato photo!

    I haven’t actually done much batch cooking in my own kitchen. I used to participate in one of those monthly cooking franchise operations when I worked full time, but it is a bit expensive on one income. Your post has inspired me to try it more at home. :)

    I do however make an extra when I prepare a caserole or oven dish. My favorite one that freezes really well is Stuffed Shells. It makes such a large amount that I cook 1/2 and freeze 1/2 so one recipe makes 2 meals. I found the recipe originally on the back of a box of Barilla pasta and have altered it to fit our family’s likes. Here it is…enjoy!

    Stuffed Shells

    1/2 package of Jumbo pasta Shells (approximately 18)
    1 27 ounce jar pasta sauce or marinara sauce
    1 egg
    1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese (divided)
    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
    3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
    2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (1-1/2 tsp dried)
    1/2 pound browned crumbled Italian sausage (optional)

    Cook pasta shells according to package directions and drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom of 9×13 (2 – 8×8 if splitting) glass baking dish with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, beat egg. Stir in ricotta, 1-3/4 cups of the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the parsley, and the Italian sausage.

    To assemble:
    1) Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the baking dish.
    2) Fill cooked shells with the ricotta mixture. Arrange the filled shells in the baking dish.
    3) Pour remaining sauce over shells. Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

    To cook and serve:
    Bake, covered with foil, until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese is melted and slightly browned (about 5 more minutes)

    Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

    Makes 6 servings (3 if you split the recipe)

    My entire family loves this recipe! It is very kid friendly and can be vegetarian if you omit the meat. :) If you choose to make it, please let me know what you think.

  22. Mindy, that recipe looks really good, like something you’d find at a restaurant.

    I’m picking up so many good meal ideas here.

    Nice list, Jessica, and Andrea I really like all the testing and experimenting that goes into Cooks’ Illustrated. Thanks for the recommendation.

  23. My favorites to make extra of and freeze are enchiladas, lasagna, chicken pockets, and soups.

  24. I finally figured out a way to use up the extra leftover toppings after I make pizza. I basically just cook up some pasta and throw the leftover cheese, sauce and toppings into it and then I freeze it because we usually don’t feel like eating pizza pasta right after eating pizza. Then just thaw it in the fridge for a day and pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.

    I also like to freeze pesto and the recipe I like to use is:
    2 cups packed basil
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    3/4 cup parmessan cheese
    2 T pine nuts
    4 cloves of garlic
    dump everthing into the food processor and blend it up.

  25. Hi,

    I really like your blogs, and visit it quite often. Learning some good gardenings ideas from you.

    Nice Recipe, I’ll surely try this over this weekend. Honestly, I am not too much into batch cooking as my husband prefers freshly cooked food, but I basically do the chopping and stuff in advance.
    In India we eat lots of stuff with gravy made of tomatoes, beans, onions and peas. So on weekends, I chopp them and keep them in air tight container in freezer. saves my lots of time while actuall preperation.

    Also, we love sandwiches. So I prepare their stuffing before hand and use them throughout the week.

    1) Boil 3 potaoes.
    2) Have some chopped onions, tomatoes, beans, peas.
    3) Peel off the Potatoes and mash them.
    4) Mix all the chopped stuff in mash potatoes and cook it for 5 minutes on flame in 1 spoon of oil.

    That’s it. Later use it with breads, and its nutritious and delicious for our taste buds. Not really sure if you like it too.

    Pooja

  26. I want to batch cook but don’t get to do too much of it. I need to get a big freezer, actually need the room for it first. Having only a fridge freezer in an apartment is a pain.

  27. Casey, I know it would be nice to have a freezer, but I live in an apartment too and only have a fridge freezer. The trick is to package the frozen meals in a way that they don’t take up so much room. That’s why I tend to use the ziploc bags. Once they’re frozen, they can be lined up or stacked, and there’s not a lot of excess packaging.

    Pooja, that sounds really good and I haven’t made that before. I will try it.

  28. I guess we sorta batch cook, and we definitely plan ahead monthly menus because my hubby is on a very strict diet due to health issues. It makes us eat healthier, spend less money and relax in the evenings more. The freezer is a definitely a must for us, as he takes leftovers from dinner for lunch. But instead of having the very same lunch as was the dinner the night before, we freeze the lunches, so he can eat a variety of foods throughout the week.

    By the way, I think your blog is great and I love, love, love the photos.

  29. I found a recipe a few months back on allrecipes.com for “addictive sweet potato burritos”. They really are great – even my 6 and 2 1/2 year old like them. The best thing about them is that the recipe makes 10 to 12 at a time and they freeze and defrost very, very well. Just wrap them up and freeze them individually. Then when it is dinner time just take out the number you need. Highly recommend them.

  30. I tend to batch cook for the week. I have a goal by the end of this month to determine my strategy for month long menu planning and some freezer cooking!

    Today in my menu plan monday post I talked about some specific strategies I use when choosing our menu and in prepping for the week ahead. If you’re interested you can check it out here: http://problemsolvinmom.blogspot.com/2008/08/batch-cooking-menu-plan-monday.html

    Great topic, I’ve gotten some terrific ideas from the original post and the comments (can’t wait to try those burritos Leslie!)

    take care,
    Steph

  31. Hi, what I normally do when I prepare a fish curry dish, is putting in two or three types of fish.
    when the curry is ready, I separate each type of fish and freeze them with equal amount of gravy. You can serve it with rice for Monday and maybe bread or pitta on Friday. You may add in some vege when you heat up the curry…..give it a try.

  32. It requires a small initial investment, but I’ve had good results with the small gizmo that sucks the air out of the special freezer ziplock bags with the little valve (I forget what brand but they are on the shelf right next to the regular ones). The gizmo costs $10. It sucks all the air out of the baggie so, in addition to avoiding freezer burn, instead of having a roly-poly schlumpy shape-shifting bag of frozen meatballs or chicken breasts that keeps threatening to slide out of the freezer, you end up with a nice sturdy plank o’ food that stacks well and stays where you put it. You can open a bag, remove some of the food, and then re-suck it to store the rest. Nice gizmo, happy girl!

  33. One of my favorite easy meals also has a short list of ingredients. I take boneless, skinless chicken breast (or cutlets) and layer them in a baking pan. Cover with your favorite red pasta sauce (I either use homemade or in a pinch a good store brand – especially if it is heavy on the olives and mushrooms). Over that I slice up fresh mozzarella (we buy on the cheap at Costco – one of their pkgs will do two big pans) and layer the slices over the chicken/sauce. Bake at 350 until chicken is done. Depending on the size of the breasts and the pan this can be 45 min to an hour plus. I just check and when the juices of the chicken run clear it is done.

    This meal is so easy – combine with a salad and some nice bread to sop up the sauce and it feels really decadent for a cheap, quick meal that feeds my entire house hold. The acid in the tomato sauce makes the chicken really moist and tender. I have had friends request this meal and since it is so easy I am happy to make it for them. I have occassionally dressed it up by sauteeing mushrooms and other veg (I tend to sneak a lot of veggies into my sauces) in a pan and adding to the sauce. This is a really good winter meal.

    Hope this is helpful – I know I am going to be trying several of the meals mentioned above!

  34. I meant to comment on Jessica’s comment (getting a little convoluted). I freeze bread all the time. Sourdough freezes well and so does rye. I live in a shared household with 4 other adults and occassional kids, so we buy a lot of bread, english muffins, muffins, bagels. All seem to freeze o.k. My favorite way to do it is when I get home from the store I break up the pkgs and put half loaves or an appropriate amount of bagels or english muffins in ziploc bags. I double bag (I also reuse the bags – just shake out any crumbs) because it seems to eliminate any freezer issues. When I thaw the bread, if it has a higer moisture content I do leave the bag open so the bread does not get soggy due to humidity building in the bag. Once the bread is thawed I seal the bag up again. One of the nice things about freezing bread is you can keep rolls and things on hand for quick soup and/or salad nights and it means you do not have to throw out half loaves or pkgs (I especially had trouble with pita breads).

    I do try to rotate the freezer enough – so every now and then collect a couple of half loaves and make bread pudding. I have never tried to freeze it, however, because it has never lasted long enough.

  35. I’ve been cooking in batches for two weeks now–and I really love it. It definitely simplifies things, and it’s great for when 6 p.m. rolls around and we’re hungry but NOT in the mood to cook.

  36. I can’t say that I “batch cook”, at least the way it’ s described here. But lately I’ve been menu-planning a) 2 weeks at a time, instead of 1 and b) stretching my recipes at least twice in the week. By that I mean that I will purposely make a larger portion of a meal & instead of just using it for lunches (which is what we typically used to do), we’ll just have the same meal the next night. YES, it’s called leftovers. But honestly, it’s never felt like that in the 2 months or so that I’ve been doing this.

    So I usually have a soup & a pasta recipe each week that I can count for 4 separate nights. Sometimes I’ll do a whole chicken that can stretch well (I’m trying the Old Bay recipe you gave tonight!) I don’t have to bag or freeze anything that way. The food is still fresh & sometimes even tastes better the next night. I’m not tossing unused salad, bread, whatever because it didn’t get eaten up. And of course, at least 2 nights a week, I don’t have to cook. :) There’s only my husband, toddler son & I, so it’s been pretty easy so far. And it definitely helps on the grocery budget!

    Thanks for all the great tips – I love finding new & tried recipes. :)

  37. These are great ideas and helps on preparing batch foods. I have been preparing crock pot meals lately so I have more time through the day and evening to work my home based business.

  38. Reading about batch cooking gives me great tips and ideas, In fact I have been preparing
    this type of cooking with Malaysian dishes only, now I have ventured to other dishes, thanks … Guys……

  39. i made a double batch of meatloaf this week. we ate the first half this week (it made two meals after we added sides) and will eat the 2nd batch next month! :)

    Brooke´s last blog post..Learning to accept Mr. Right’s first love…

  40. Great ideas. We have been doubling our nightly meals and building up a stock of lunches with them. It works great and makes it so there is always a meal in the freezer for lunch.

    Jessica Brammer | Losing The World´s last post…How to Make Overnight French Toast

  41. Freezer cooking is the best! I love being able to pull things out of the freezer and have dinner ready in a flash. @Jessica, your Southwestern Turkey Burgers sound yummm-E!

    TheRoosterChick´s last post…Save Time In The Kitchen & Get Dinner On The Table In A Hurry! – Part 3 of 7

  42. Batch cooking is a great way to save money and a ton of time. Unfortunately, I don’t always make the time to get it all done, so I tend to do it a little more informally. But what I do do is do my meat prep work and freeze that, so that when I’m ready to cook the meat is all trimmed and portioned and all I have to do is start cooking. I blogged about how I do that here:

    http://workathomehomeschoolingmom.com/2009/06/saving-money-on-groceries-meat/

    Also, when I can, I’ll make larger batches of food than what we’ll eat at one time and freeze the left overs in either family portion sizes or lunch portion sizes. The lunch portions are put on a shelf for my husband to take to work when he’s ready. So I don’t have any prep work for lunch, AND he has the variety he needs without feeling like he’s eating last night’s leftovers (which he hates).

    Typically, I’ll freeze up Chili, Spaghetti, Taco meat, lasagna, rice, noodles (for my daughter), bread rolls, chicken pot pie filling, sloppy joe mix, and left over chicken meat (from a whole chicken, like you described).

    I also like to freeze up the carcasses from whole chickens, and then make up chicken stock from them in the crock pot. Then I freeze the chicken stock into portion sizes (ice cube trays for 1 Tablespoon portions, and pint and quart canning jars for soups and chicken & dumplings type meals.

    The whole cook enough all at once gets overwhleming for me, but by doing it incrementally helps me still save time and money, but not get overwhelmed with it all.

    Shannon´s last post…Free Homeschool Curriculum: Three Free Curriculums with Lesson Plans/Schedules

  43. What a neat site, I know I will come back regularly. To get us started on a menu/shopping plan I just wrote on the calendar what ever we did have for dinner each night for a few weeks. I had a reasonable menu plan there on the wall within a month.

  44. I am new to blogging. I am anxious to learn more about simple living and time saving advice like batch cooking. I try to do this. Today, I am taking leftovers from yesterday and making brocolli cheese soup.

  45. Put it in the crock pot breast side down, and let it cook on low for 6 hours.

    no water?! or broth, just the chicken, right?!?!

  46. Thanks for the tips! One of my friends and I were just talking yesterday about trying batch cooking out this summer. I can’t wait to share these tips with her. =)

  47. Stephanie O’Dea at Crockpot365.blogspot.com and author of “Make it Fast, Cook it Slow” makes her whole crockpot chickens by removing the skins first. She doesn’t like them cooking in all that fat all day. So, if you’re worried about fat in your diet simply removing the skin first!

  48. My favorite easy beef crock pot recipe is also only two ingredients!
    2 lb flank steak (ish)
    1 bottle catalina salad dressing

    I cook it on high for an hour then on low for 5 or so hours (it’ll fall apart when done). yum yum and yum!

    I just found your site (Nov 2010) and am enjoying it thoroughly!

  49. I have spent the last week reading through your blog. I love it! Thank you!
    OK, freezer cooking… I have an 8 week menu plan that contains vegetarian meals on Mondays, meat Tuesday, soup Wednesday, fish Thursday, Chicken Friday and mixed on weekend but fish at least once. I have a summer and a winter version of this menu. The way I planned it I can use leftovers a lot, for example pancakes mon ( it is a dinner food in Sweden where I live ), pasta bolognese on tue and crêpes instead of soup on wed. The nights I now I work late I have food that I can prepare in advance and put in the freezer. I batch cook meat a lot and freeze it in family portions. Then I just thaw it and put it in whatever dish I am cooking. I have all the recipes for the menus printed in a folder with corresponding shopping lists for every week. I always go grocery shopping early on Saturdays so the menu and the shopping list is sat-fri. It saves me so much time and money! I tweak the menus at least twice a year so we don’t get bored with the food. This way we can all get our favorites and no one have to eat something they don’t care for more often than every eight weeks!