Friday, November 7, 2008

Why You SHOULD Be Bulk-Cooking!

The other day as I cooked up a bulk batch of chicken, I got to thinking about what a wonderful thing bulk cooking is.

Whenever boneless, skinless chicken breasts go on sale I stock up and cook up a bunch of them and bag them up (either diced or whole) and freeze them. I do this with hamburger as well and also dried beans. I've done it with brown rice too, and it's wonderful to have that on hand and ready for a quick meal. Bulk cooking has so many advantages!

When I hit a big sale, I can buy enough meats to cook and freeze that will last until the next big sale. Having meats in the freezer means that I don't have to run to the store last minute when something comes up where I need meat, and have to pay twice the price as what I would pay on sale. By buying all my meats half-off, I'm saving 50% of what your average person pays! I averaged out that we save about $500 a year on meat by doing this.

There's no denying that bulk cooking saves one time. Boiling a big pot of chicken breasts takes about an hour or less and then I have enough cooked chicken for a month! I made supper last night in a matter of 5 minutes thanks to being able to whip some cooked, diced chicken out of the freezer and microwave and mix with some veggies and rice. Instead of having to spend time cooking meat 5 or 6 different times, I did it once and saved myself from having to work it into my super busy days all of those other times! Having cooked meats on hand makes cooking supper a snap!

When you wash dishes by hand you do whatever you can to cut back on dishes! If I dirty one large pan once a month to make 10 pounds of hamburger, it's a lot easier to clean up than cleaning up a hamburger pan 10 times. Think of all the water, dish soap, and electricity for cooking and heating the dish water that you save! Dirty one big pot, one cutting board and knife or large spoon and save yourself an hour of doing dishes throughout the next month!

How do you do fit bulk cooking into your life when you are busy with little ones?

1. Take baby steps. For example: Friday or Sat. I will grocery shop. Monday I will boil a huge pot of chicken breasts and maybe turn on a pot of beans (2#) to cook at the same time. Then I will stick the chicken and beans in the fridge to cool overnight. The next day when I have 20 minutes to spare, I will chop the cool chicken and put into freezer bags. The following day I will scoop the beans into freezer containers or blend them up with some spices for refried beans. One step at a time. It's exhausting if you try to shop, cook, and package it all in one day when you have little ones running around.

2. Plan for sales in the budget. If you find your food budget is too tight to take advantage of sales, you may need to give yourself a "pantry stocker" or plan ahead and put a few bucks a week aside into an envelope that is specifically for meat sales. My husband gives me a pantry stocker, which is an extra $20 once a month as a little boost to the grocery budget. This is nice so that I can take advantage of case lot sales or really good deals going on.

3. Make life easier one simple thing at a time. I know there are moms who do once-a-month or even once-every-two-months cooking weekends and I admire them. Someday when we are homeschooling we will probably do a lot of that too. But for now, with our limited space and small above-the-fridge freezer, we can't do that. It would also be hard to coordinate all of that cooking with 3 little kids 3 and under. However, by cooking beans and meats in bulk (and I plan to add in more bulk brown rice cooking) I am considerably saving time, money, and dishes.

Other ideas for bulk food prep in the kitchen include:

*Baking lots of bread at a time or other baked goods (muffins, cookies, brownies, etc.)
Crystal of just did a neat post on this

*Shredding all of your cheese at one time and freezing it for later use.

*Chopping all of your fruits into kid-sized pieces at the beginning of the week so you always have a healthy snack ready to go even if you're really busy.

*Making tortillas in bulk (One of my goals for this winter! We always seem to just make enough so that they all get eaten in a meal.)

*Making pancakes and waffles in bulk. I don't like the taste of frozen breakfast foods as much as fresh, but I do make a large batch when we make them for a meal and I save the leftovers in the fridge for the kids to snack on for a few days.

*Soups, Stews, and Casseroles are very simple to double up on! If I'm making a homemade soup I just throw in more ingredients and then save a big containerful in the freezer for a future meal.

*Pasta--I use a large pot when I make pasta and try to make a batch that will last for a couple of suppers and lunches throughout the week. I don't mind eating spaghetti over and over and over but to break up the monotony for my family I may serve the pasta with red sauce one night, with white sauce a couple of nights later or make it into a macaroni lasagna, or add veggies and chicken or make it into a tuna casserole. We've had success with freezing spaghetti noodles.

*Hard-boiled eggs. While these can't be frozen (that I know of anyway) it's good to make a big batch of them at once and have them on hand for snacks and meals. My kids love them so I do at least a dozen or two at a time.

What things do you bulk cook for your family?

1 comment:

The Three 22nds said...

Meeting a bunch of friends tonight for some freezer meal making! I bought 80 pounds of ground beef yesterday (91% lean) for 1.81 a pound.

we will see how it goes!

Pin It
Pin It
Pin It