Hassle-free cooking in large quantities
If you cook regularly for your family and friends, then you’ll know how much time it can take to prepare large quantities of food. By planning in advance and getting to grips with effective batch cooking, you can save yourself time and money and even cut down on household waste.
These tips will help you be more efficient in the kitchen and help you create a number of delicious and healthy meals for busy weekday evenings when you don’t have the time to cook.
- Stock up on clingfilm or Tupperware.
- Set aside an afternoon or evening to get stuck in to making enough meals to feed your family for a week.
- If you can find a friend to cook with, share the cost of the groceries, and dance around the kitchen with, even better!
Step 1 - Make a Plan
- Organisation is the key to batch-cooking. It might sound tedious but it will save you a lot of time and frustration later on.
- Decide on the three or four recipes you’re going to make in one session.
- It’s important that you select the right recipes. Keep it simple, choose recipes that you’re familiar with and ones that are popular with your family.
- If you’re looking to cut down on costs, then look for recipes that use cheaper cuts of meat (e.g. shoulder, thighs, ground meat etc.). These meats also freeze the best and can be made into delicious stews, soups and casseroles.
Step 2 - Get to Know your Freezer
You will need a fair bit of freezer space, so before you start, clear out your freezer, remove any ice build-up and try and incorporate any forgotten frozen foods into your recipes (you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have enough peas to feed an army so why not include in a cottage pie?).
Step 3 - Shopping
Make a list of all the groceries you’ll need - don’t just head to the grocery store and panic! Remember to check the fridge and kitchen cupboard and make a note of any ingredients or seasonings your recipes require. Nothing kills a batch-cooking buzz like a last-minute dash to the store for vanilla essence.
Make sure you have the correct containers to freeze your recipes in. We recommend buying a bunch of freezer bags, aluminium trays with lids and tupperware boxes in a variety of sizes. When possible, freeze in containers that the meal can be thawed and reheated in.
Step 4 - Get Cooking!
- Do all the same jobs at once. i.e. do all the veg peeling (have a big bowl for food waste next to you so you don’t keep having to go to the bin), then the veg cutting etc. etc.
- If you have a food processor, use it! Don’t try to hand chop 6 cups of onions and two heads of garlic – you will lose the will to live! Tip: food processors are also great for grating cheese.
- For soups and stews, slightly under-cook your vegetables. They are going to get a second round of cooking when the meal is prepared, so you don't want to overcook.
- Don't over-season: when doubling recipes, take care not to add too much spice. Add seasoning moderately, tasting as you go.
- Don’t double your baking recipes: Baking recipes are like chemistry and when recipes are doubled, you might not get the results you’re looking for. Instead, make single recipes a few times - at least you'll save time on washing the bowls!
Step 4 - Freeze
- When pouring liquid and food in the zip lock bags, stand the bags open in a measuring jug or glass with the bag folded out around the lip of the glass to avoid spills. You can either freeze them with the glass to hold the shape of the glass and remove once frozen, or for max freezer packing organisation, freeze the packs between a flat baking sheet so they freeze flat and then you can stack!
- When you freeze your dishes, make sure they have come to room temperature before and then freeze immediately to avoid any bacteria growth.
- Freeze in appropriate portion sizes: There’s no point freezing several litres of stock in one solid block, unless you plan on using it all at once. Instead, think about the portion size you will need for a meal and freeze it in a suitable container.
- Unlabelled tupperware piled high in the freezer is always frustrating. Label each box with the name of the dish, the date and any recipe directions you may need for when you take it out.