Monday, 16 May 2016

Bulk Cooking

Bulk cooking is a great way to save time in the kitchen. For those of you who are new to this concept, it pretty much means exactly that. You cook multiple meals at the same time to store in the freezer. The benefits of bulk cooking are -

* It saves time in the kitchen at meal times.
* Saves on electricity / gas.
* Emergency meals on hand in the freezer
* Helps avoid the takeaway temptation.
* Meal preparation is simplified
* Older children can get tea ready for you if you are sick or faced with an emergency.
* Great for taking on holidays
* Unexpected visitors can be fed.
* Peace of mind
* Great for portion controlling the meat.
* Being prepared for sickness in the house
* Being ready for financial hardship.

The benefits I listed above really are wonderful.  Most importantly,  bulk cooking is about getting your house in order.  I cannot stress enough how important this is for you,  your family and your friends.  Here's a question for you to think about.  If an emergency came to your home,  would your family and friends have to feed you ?  Yes it's wonderful to have a meal offered to you,  but would you be relying on others to get you through a crisis or emergency ?

I've lost track of the amount of times I've been asked to provide meals for others.  I try to help when I can but often these requests come at a time when I'm away on holidays,  having a very busy week or I'm sick.  Also, to be honest my budget doesn't stretch to feed other families.  Then I feel a little guilty that I can't help. Then I worry that the person or family doesn't have food to eat.

We've had a few emergencies visit our family over the years.  Five years ago I was hospitalised for a kidney stone.  Thankfully my sister in law and her mother were able to take care of our girls at short notice.  Darren took food out of the freezer to bring into the hospital for him to eat while he sat at my bedside.  After I'd been home for a few days,  we remembered we had a visitor coming for lunch. This had been organised a week earlier.  Thankfully I had lots of soup and chocolate brownies in the freezer to serve.  The visitor didn't know I'd been in hospital a few days earlier.  She guessed something was up when I had to sit down while Darren and the girls organised lunch.

Both Darren and my Mum have been hospitalised right on Christmas a few years running.  During those times, I had to drop what I was doing to be with them.  Thankfully I had a menu plan and plenty of meals in the freezer to defrost and eat.  It was one less thing to worry about.

Most of the meals I bulk cook are made with beef mince or chicken.   I buy a couple of two kilo trays of mince at a time. I try to plan this when I have a couple of days off from work. I then weigh out the amount of raw meat I need for the multiple meals I plan to cook.  The other option is to cook a double amount of food when you are preparing dinner each night.

For spag bol I use 300g for the four of us. If I want to make four meals for us then I weigh out 300g x four meals = 1200g. I cook the mince in a large electric fry pan and add four tins of tomatoes, four serves of tomato paste and four times the amount of seasonings. Once cooled it is spooned into four containers and frozen.

I use 400g of mince to make pie meat. This is eventually made into a family sized pie that serves the four of us. If I want to make pie meat for four pies I weigh out 400g x four meals = 1600g. It is cooked, seasoned, thickened with gravy powder and corn flour. When cooled it is divided into four containers and frozen. When frozen I empty it out of the container and double wrap it, label and date it and pop it back in the freezer. When I want to make a pie, it's defrosted in the fridge overnight then spooned onto a pastry lined pie plate and topped with cubed potato. A pastry lid is placed on top then cooked in the oven.

I use 400g of mince to make a meatloaf. To make four meatloaves I weigh out 400g x four meals = 1600g. I need 3 tablespoons of uncooked rice x four meatloaves = 12 tablespoons. This is cooked and added to the raw mince with salt, pepper, onion, parsley, four eggs and large squirts of tomato sauce. Mix well and divide into four meatloaf / baking tins and cook at the same time in the oven. When cooled double wrap and place in the freezer.

I hope these recipe ideas give you inspiration to give bulk cooking a go. It only takes a few hours to have 15 - 20 family sized meals ready for the freezer.  It's a small sacrifice to make for your family's peace of mind in a crisis.

Chocolate brownies from the freezer
Single serves for the freezer
Hamburger patties in bulk
Trays of zucchini slice ready to portion and freeze
Soup for the soul and freezer.

Do you bulk cook for your family ?  How has bulk cooking helped you in a crisis ?


  1. Hi Wendy,

    I had to use Internet early this morning, thought of checking your blog too and there you were. Your topic made me smile but I had a silent giggle too.

    Until I got married, the concept of cooking in bulk was alien to me. At my childhood home we never froze any prepared meals other than ice cream or any other frozen desserts. Once I got married, my hubby told me "No need to cook everyday, just cook in bulk and refrigerate the rest". He had been a student living alone and he had done this to save time. His request turned my world upside down because I thought 'Oh, no. I'm not going to eat old stuff from the fridge'. He insisted and I reluctantly obeyed him but when I got used to it, there was no turning back. The fun part was I got addicted to it. Now unless I have a limited supply of a certain produce, have long term residential visitors or make something in a hurry, there is no 'one meal' cooking for me. It's always bulk cooking, at least for two meals.

    Now my hubby jokingly advise his friends quite the opposite - "Don't ever ask your wives not to cook everyday, mate. You'll end up eating off the fridge for your whole life". It's a family joke, not that I'm feeding him off the fridge everyday. All of us have a hearty laugh though. When I look back I can see how much we have saved on energy, water, time, avoiding waste, avoiding impulse buying on precooked shelf food, avoiding take away & junk food and so on. This has helped us to eat healthy, make use of what we have at hand, learn new techniques to make different dishes out of each produce and live a happy and 'satisfied' life.

    Yours was a timely post for me. Yesterday I finished all my leftovers and was planning to spend most of today cooking in bulk. I was planning to make few quiches (which we love) and do lot of baking. I would add your tuna casserole too to the list.

    Thank you for inspiring us to do more to make our families happy and healthy.

    Have a great week, Wendy.

    1. Thankyou for your lovely post Millie. You certainly have saved a small fortune and given peace of mind to the family.

  2. Now that there is just the two of us home, I've had to learn not to cook so much as I was wasting some of it. Now, when I do a lasagne or shepherds pie, I use the same recipe quantities but make 2 smaller dishes, one to eat and one to freeze. Great for when you come home from work and can't be bothered cooking. I don't keep too many meals in the freezer but one or two is very handy.

    1. Joolz, I think I'll always do a large lasagne ( 12 serves ) even when it's just the two of us. It's a time consuming main meal so I'd be happy to do it less often.

  3. I'm due to have my 3rd child in July. We've just been talking about the need to precook and freeze a number of meals so that we can remain calm and fed in the first few weeks. We'll clear the freezer until husband finishes uni next week then work on some favourites. Thanks for the reminder! Allie

    1. Allie, you've still got plenty of time to cook up a storm. Chunky soups are easy to make. I have a couple of recipes here.

  4. I have just spent the last three weeks doing a great deal of bulk cooking. I will be having surgery on my foot this week and will be in a wheelchair for 8-10 weeks. Having meals in the freezer will keep us from doing expensive take out during this time.

    1. I hope the surgery goes well Susan. The freezer meals will be a big help.

  5. Having meals in the freezer is such a blessing! Along with bulk cooking and preparation of ingredients (browning meat and so forth), I freeze individual portions of leftovers for my son to take to work for his meals. He knows which shelf to check and I keep everything labeled so he can select what he needs for the particular shift he's working.
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Yes single serves are also great to have in the freezer. It also eliminates waste or someone coming back for seconds when they could do without.

  6. I have always done bulk cooking to save time as we raised our 11 children and have been grateful for the convenience and ultimate time saving! Now that our family is only 3 people, I still bulk cook and freezer cook! I knew I would be out of state for a full week helping with a new baby granddaughter and after I got home, I was scheduled for major surgery which would keep me in the hospital for 3 days and then a 6 week recuperation at home?
    Hubby and I made 18 freezer meals, gave 2 more to a friend who was sick and no takeout was needed throughout that time!
    I am now 2 weeks post-op and did some bulk cooking the last few days again, adding pumpkin muffins, chicken Caesar wraps, sausage egg cheese bagels, Garlic Parmesan pork chops ,sausage egg cheese breakfast biscuits and granola bars!
    What a time AND money saver!!!

    1. I'm sure you were glad to have some forward thinking for your operation. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

  7. When my husband was in college, as adults with 3 kids, and in the 3 years following, we were on a very limited budget, to put it mildly. I began to do once-a-month cooking. I would take some of the grocery budget and buy ingredients for a carefully planned menu. Then, I would spend 3 days cooking it all, and then froze it. Then, I knew I had a meal for every day, already in the freezer. I spent my time each evening making a vegetable, some days making bread, etc. to go with the entree that was already made. The rest of the budget went for milk, eggs, and little things I ran out of. I did this for several years and it helped so much. Now, I do keep several meals frozen at most times, but not 30.

    1. Wow, 30 meals was a huge achievement. I wish I'd done bulk cooking when my girls were little. I didn't think of it and no one suggested it to me. Now I'm happy to share in the hope it helps other young mums.

  8. Great post Wendy, I love to cook in bulk also. I often double the quantity of a meal and then freeze one meal ... like you said it is such a blessing to have meals in the freezer when the unexpected arises or you have a particularly busy day. I always like to have several cookie logs in the freezer so fresh cookies can be made in minutes, if you have unexpected guests. Recently, I discovered a lovely maple cinnamon cake recipe which freezes really well also. When I cook this cake I wrap and freeze half for another occasion. This has made for great fuss free entertaining, just being able to defrost a home baked desert if we are having visitors for dinner. Thanks for your lovely blog, it is a great inspiration ... now off to do the dusting for me ... not the most exciting job, but necessary!

  9. Hi Wendy,

    When my Mum passed away in March, we didn't have that much notice and even know I didn't feel like eating, the rest of the family did. Thank goodness for the freezer meals. This saved getting takeaway and you just never know when things in your life my change, it's worth it to be prepared.
    Maureen, xxx

  10. I'd love to have the recipe for the zucchini slice, do you have a link to the recipe, please?

    1. Gill, it's in the recipe section under main meals.


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