Batch Cooking: Do I have time for this crap?
A while ago we bought a deep freezer. Starry-eyed dreams of pre-made meals that I would easily pull out of our magical freezer floated through my mind. I would have a meal ready for every meal of the month. My kids would be fed nutritious, healthy foods, my stress would be decreased from not fighting against the clock to get food on the table, and I would save a lot of money by not eating out.
I searched the internet for recipes, and even pulled out a once-a-month cookbook I had purchased 10 odd years ago when I was contemplating this before. Then I found a website called Once a Month Mom. I’d found it! This would be my salvation. Their site give you all the tools you need to make most of your meals for a month, and even have varied plans so you can meet the dietary needs of your family, including gluten free. I say this in complete honesty; they kick ass! They do a ton of work for you in planning out these meals and they do it damn well. All you have to do is put in the time to do it.
That’s where the problem started. I was not prepared for the amount of time/work it took. I shopped for a week. I cooked for 3 days, from the time I got off work Friday, until just before bed Sunday. My arms hurt from chopping, my fingers bled, my ankles turned into cankles, I took a header down the last 3 steps to the basement, but on Sunday night, I carried the last of those meals to the freezer with pride and complete and utter exhaustion. As I closed the door to the deep freezer, I cried out, “Never again!”
So am I suggesting you never do freezer cooking? Absolutely not! Freezer cooking has saved my butt more than once, and more frequently my time. You just have to figure out what’s best for you. Occasionally I’ll do a big batch session, like when chicken or beef are at ridiculously low prices, I’ll buy 10 or 20 pounds and put it away into some meals or pre-meals. I’ll cook 5 pounds of burger and mix it with taco seasoning and bag it into individual portions. Or I’ll take 10lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast and bag it with a marinade in dinner size portions and freeze. It makes dinner so much easier!
However, there is a caveat. Without meal planning, you won’t have the freezer meals to cook if they aren’t thawed. Many of my best meals didn’t get eaten when they could have because I forgot to pull them out of the freezer in time to thaw. You can defrost some things in the microwave without too much problem, but other meals don’t defrost that well. I will go into meal planning more on Wednesday, but I wanted to put that out there, before you got too far into planning.
Once a Month Mom has recently created a mini-menu plan for smaller batch cooking. The session makes 5 meals for one week in a couple of hours time. Or you could double and get 10 meals. It might be just the thing if you want to dip your toe into batch cooking and see if it’s for you. You can find their February mini-menu plan here. I will be making that next week for my Save Your Sanity series. I hope you’ll join me then.