One of the ways the we have not only saved time, but money as well is by cooking meals in bulk. Originally we were somewhat daunted by the idea, yet with a little patience and research we conquered.
Why Cook in Bulk?
As part of our every evolving strategy to become more productive with each minute we have, one of the main reasons we started cooking in bulk was to save time. Let’s look at a couple of ways we achieved this:
- Prep time-The time spent preparing the food was cut down drastically. With everything already out, after that first meal is finished we figure we shaved almost 70% off the cooking time of the remaining meals.
- Cooking surface ready-no waiting for your cooking area to heat up each time since it is already hot.
- Only one clean up-enough said!
- Portions already measured-we track everything by ounces, and this allows us to have everything measured and ready to eat.
Lets look at a simple example-our morning eggs. Normally, it takes around 14 minutes from start to finish to get our eggs ready to eat. That includes turning the stove on to heat up, getting the eggs out, separating the egg yolks from the whites and cook both sides. With everything out and ready, we remove the yolks from the next batch while the current eggs are cooking. Then it takes approximately 4 minutes to cook the second round and so on.
In the above example, normally cooking eggs each morning would have taken 98 minutes a week. Cooking in bulk we spend 14 minutes cooking the first batch and 24 minutes cooking the next six batches (6 days X 4 minutes) for total of 38 minutes. Now that is an extra hour a week that we earned to use any way we see fit. And that is just one item of one meal.
Save on Money
By watching for sales, using coupons, or a combination of the two you can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing in bulk. We once got Perdue boneless/skinless chicken breast for $0.79/lb when the average price was $2.49/lb.
Since your surface will already be heated, you will save money on electricity or gas by not having to heat from 0 degrees again. This is especially true for baking-in the winter months we usually bake for 4–5 hours each Sunday. The oven does not have to heat up for each meal and the radiant heat eases the strain on our mini-split.
Lastly, when you have meals ready to eat it makes it a lot easier to avoid ‘emergency’ fast food or deli. You can have a meal ready in the time it takes to heat it up, and you will know all the ingredients in it as well as how it was prepared.
When Should You Cook in Bulk?
If you are like we were and just a little hesitant about it, why not start slow? Just cook one extra meal while you are at the stove. Making breakfast? Go ahead and make tomorrow’s and put it in the fridge.
As a personal choice, we like Sundays. Our work schedules allow us time off and it allows us to have some family time in the kitchen. Our 13 year old daughter is learning how to cook, so it is good to have her around for company and to learn the process. It boils down to whenever you have time. We do not like to try to bulk cook unless we have at least a couple hours available to work with.
How to Cook in Bulk
The old adage ‘An ounce of preparation is better than a pound of regret’ holds true here. A few of the things you will want to have ready are:
- A predetermined time. Know exactly when you are going to cook and for how long.
- All the ingredients you need for the dish you are preparing.
- Plenty of kitchen utensils such as measuring spoons/cups of various sizes.
Consider starting small. Like we mentioned just cooking one extra meal, how about just cooking one item? Eggs? Pancakes? Chicken? Just cook one thing and portion it out.
One item we bulk cook regularly is red beans and rice. We love spicy food-not only does it add flavor, but it boost your metabolism and immune system as well. So here is our recipe and process for cooking this dish:
- Gather 1lb bag of brown rice, 5 cans of red beans, 5 cans of diced tomatoes w/chilies. Set out measuring spoons and cups, zip lock containers, masking tap and a permanent marker.
- Start cooking the rice in a 4 quart pan. Usually takes around 50 minutes to one hour.
- While the rice is cooking open the cans of beans, tomatoes with chilies and set to the side.
- Prepare 10–12 Ziploc containers by removing lids and attaching tape.
- Once rice has finished cooking, measure out 3/4 cup into each container. (Note: you will have plenty of rice left over to use for other dishes.
- Measure 1/2 cup of red beans into each
- 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes
- Just a dash of sea salt to each.
- Place lids on and write the date with a permanent marker.
- Stack neatly in your freezer. We use a deep freeze. If you do not have one, consider it a must if you wish to bulk cook. You can get a fairly nice 5 cubic feet deep freeze for a fairly small price now days.
Items We Have Successfully Cooked in Bulk
- Pinto beans and cornbread
- Soups of all kinds (except potato-it does not freeze well)
- Alfredo Noodles (with and without a meat included)
Storing Your Bounty
As we said, we prefer to freeze what we can. A few things to keep in mind:
- Always date
- Rotate your stock so you oldest meals are available first.
- Check out this link for a list of average storage times for most foods.
Let us know if you try this recipe and how your bulk cooking experience goes! What is your favorite item to cook in bulk? What challenges did you face? Thanks for stopping by, have a great day!