Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Foray into Batch Cooking

I have always completely ignored people who say the words "batch cooking" or "once-a-month meals" to me. The thought of spending a whole day cooking and then cramming my tiny freezer full of casseroles always sounded dreadful to me.

But then my latest issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray came loudly promising "1 Month of Make-Ahead Meals." What I liked about this program is that you don't have to assemble casseroles and have a bazillion ingredients. It's just a matter, really, of preparing meat and sauce. So I took the plunge.

I didn't do everything she listed, because I know my family wouldn't eat some of the recipes. I replaced some of her recipes with ones we love, and I haven't yet prepared the chicken.

But today I roasted 5 lbs of pork shoulder (mixed with garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and white wine), shredded it, and put it into freezer bags for:
• pork and avocado tacos
• Brunswick stew
• pulled pork sandwiches
• pork and ginger noodle soup.

I learned that our knives are badly in need of sharpening and that I really, really don't like cutting big chunks of pig into little chunks of pig. However, the end result was amazing and well worth the sawing and fat removing I had to do. This stuff is delicious, and I can't wait to try one of the recipes.

While the pork was roasting, I made a big pot of tomato sauce that I put into ziplocs, 1-2 cups at a time. This will be used for:
• lasagna
• chili
• spaghetti (twice)
• Brunswick stew (with the pork)
• Fusilli with chicken and tomato sauce

This isn't my favorite sauce ever. Something is not quite right, but I'm not sure yet what it is. Next time I'm going to adjust Rachael Ray's recipe to the one I usually use, although possibly this one just needed basil and oregano to make it perfect.

While all that was cooking, I made, from 5.5 lbs of ground beef, 32 meatballs, five hamburger patties, and three 2-cup ziploc baggies of browned ground beef. This will be used for:
• chili, lasagna, and spaghetti and meatballs (with sauce above)
• tacos
• hamburgers on the grill

Why I picked a 96 degree day to do all this, I don't know. Fortunately, there is air conditioning.

And a couch. I am very, very tired after all of this. Well, plus I put a coat of polyurethane on a table, played tennis, did two loads of laundry, and schooled my kids. If I had anything left of that bottle of wine that I used in the spaghetti sauce, I would slug it right down this minute.

At the end of today, I have the main ingredients for 11 suppers in our freezer. I also have 4 pantry meals in line. Once I do the chicken next week, I'll have four more meals for a total of 19 suppers that just need minimal preparation (boiling pasta, chopping vegetables, grating cheese, etc.).

I'll post the recipes as I get to them. For tonight, we're having French dip sandwiches, roasted cauliflower and corn on the cob. I'm really enjoying the Crock Pot Girls on Facebook. Between the crock pot and the batch cooking, I might have more time for blogging!

Linked up on Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie


  1. I used to feel the same way about freezer cooking but then I realized it wasn't all casseroles. I've been doing it for 2 years now and my favorite part is I can pull dinner out and not have a messy kitchen every night! I also make crockpot marinara and freeze 2 cup portions...super cheap and better than the jarred stuff! Looks like you have a nice, yummy stash!

  2. Dude, I SO want to do this. I need to budget our money differently, so that I can go "meat shopping" and stock up...

  3. Sounds good - the food, and the idea of more time for blogging!

  4. Nice job! I'm visiting from OrgJunkie. Thanks for sharing! I'm just starting the batch cooking thing, but I'm not very far along yet (except with canning. THAT I can do. :) Keep up the good work!

  5. I batch cook red sauce and ground beef all the time! Love having that stuff ready to go in the freezer.

    I just recently started preparing "freezer meals," and you are right ... it is really just assembly and prep-work. Have you seen the Once A Month Mom site? She publishes monthly freezer meal menus, along with the shopping list and a "prep/cooking instruction list" ... LOVE her site.

  6. Great work!

    I've got chickens to boil up and freeze!

  7. Welcome to the club! I have been once-a-month cooking (actually about every 6 weeks) for about three years. I cook in a group of five and we prepare over 200 meals to feed families of 8 in just around 4 hours with limited casseroles. We buy in bulk and each meals costs around $5. I love it!


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