Do you get tired of cooking dinner every night, and do you wish you could devote less time to providing healthy meals for your family? If you answered yes to these questions, then cooking in bulk is for you!
It's easy to get started, so here we go with some pointers:
Why Cook in Bulk?
We've already mentioned the convenience of bulk cooking; it's wonderful to know that you can pull an entree out of the freezer on a busy night, pop it into the oven, and have a meal ready quickly.
Another reason to cook in bulk is economics. It's much cheaper to be freezing home-cooked food for future use than to be running out to the fast food restaurant or ordering take-out.
Don't forget about the economics of time, either - if you are preparing one entree, is it really much more time-consuming to prepare two? Just a fraction more time and effort will result in a big time savings later on.
What Should You Cook in Bulk?
When you are planning on freezing food, consider recipes your family already likes. Go through your recipe book and make note of favorites.
Food types that freeze particularly well include pastas (including lasagna), soups and casseroles. If you need recipes, check out bulkcooking.com.
Food Preparation and Storage
Now it's time to do the actual food preparation. Prepare your entrees, taking care to package them in airtight containers to avoid freezer burn. You will also want to consider whether the container you freeze the food in can transition to the oven or microwave easily and safely.
Another important tip is to label each entree. Although you may be sure that you'll never forget that it's Grandma's Spinach Casserole in that dish, two months from now you will probably have no idea. Also, label each entree with baking instructions. Freezer tape is available, which will stick at low temperatures.
Storing bulk food can be a challenge, particularly if you are limited to the freezer section of your refrigerator. Use the space you have wisely, perhaps stacking your bulk cooking entrees on one or two designated shelves. If bulk cooking becomes a regular habit for you, it may be worthwhile to invest in a stand-alone freezer.
If cooking in bulk sounds like too big a step, start small. Instead of cooking two chicken breasts for a recipe, cook a whole bag - then freeze what you don't use in smaller containers.
Consider a "theme week" based on a single meat which you can prepare one day and eat for the rest of the week. Think Thanksgiving: remember all the variations you can make with a single turkey? Turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey pot pie - you can do this with any meat. Since meat is often the part of the meal that takes longest to prepare, doing it once a week rather than nightly can be a big time-saver.
Do you use lots of onions or green peppers in your cooking? Chop up a bunch and store them in your salad drawer.
Cooking in bulk is a wonderful time saver. Choose the bulk cooking tips that work for you, and you will be amazed at the time, money, and effort you will save.
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.