A couple of weeks ago I shared my key benefits for cooking in bulk, so today I’m back to share some tips for bulk cooking! It’s really not as intimidating as it might seem, I promise! I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comments as well!
1. Batch Preparation
One of the easiest ways to speed up your bulk cooking session is to batch prepare your ingredients. This means that instead of focussing on one recipe at a time, you prepare all the like ingredients in one go instead. So, chop all your onions, dice all your carrots, peel all your potatoes etc, then start cooking. It saves you going back and forth and means you don’t have to wash your knives and chopping boards anywhere near as many times. Once you start cooking everything is ready to go as well!
2. Reuse Ingredients
This tip ties neatly to the one above, but put simply try and use the same ingredient in a number of dishes as often as possible. This means instead of cooking one dish that uses pumpkin, make two or three so you can not only use the whole pumpkin, but also reduce the number of ingredients you have to prep. This goes not only for veggies but for beans and meat as well.
3. Vary Cooking Style
If you’re cooking a few meals at once the last thing you want is to run out of oven space, or fry pans, try and mix up your cooking styles for each dish. This means for example you can have a few things roasting in the oven while you cook grains in a saucepan and make a curry in a frypan. You’ll get everything cooked much faster if you can have lots on the go at once.
4. Have Good Containers
The last thing you want is to spend an afternoon cooking lots of delicious meals and then they all get freezer burn, so invest in some good quality containers that are easy to stack and reuse. You also want them in a variety of sizes so you can freeze whole dishes like lasagnes, as well as single serves of things like curries. You can build this collection up over time though, so don’t break the bank buying everything at once!
5. Start Small
If you’ve never bulk cooked before it’s probably not advisable to try and make a month’s worth of lunches and dinners in one go, so start small instead! This might just mean making a triple-batch of something on a Sunday afternoon that will see you through a few lunches, or freezing a few serves of soup. Once you’ve done it for a few weeks in a row you’ll figure out what works best for you, then you can build up from there!
6. Don’t Forget to Label
It’s amazing how similar things can look once they’ve been in the freezer for a little while, so make sure you have a good quality marker and label everything you make. This should include not only what it is, but when you made it, so you can make sure to eat the oldest options first and not end up with anything languishing in the bottom of your freezer.
7. Buy In Season and On Sale
In order to make the most of your bulk cooking try and buy only ingredients that are in season, and stock up on non-perishables when they are on sale. The best part is that just because black beans might be on sale that doesn’t mean you’ll be eating them for the next two weeks straight as you can cook with them then rotate meals through your freezer. You can also make the most of very ripe veggies that are often super cheap at farmer’s markets and veggie shops as you’ll be using them all straight away anyway!
8. Write Out a Schedule
Before you kick off your cooking session sit down and write out a plan of attack. Schedule out what to cook first, how to rotate ingredients through the oven, what containers you are going to need and when to turn your oven both on and up, if some dishes need different temperatures. The more planning you do the easier the whole process will go!
9. Research Meals
Some meals freeze really well, others might be fine in the fridge for a few days but not the freezer, and others again really need to be made fresh, so do your research to avoid disappointment. For example, I don’t freeze stir-fries as they never reheat well, but they do keep well in the fridge so can make a good dinner for a couple of days. Other options like soups, curries, burritos, chilli, burger patties, pasta bakes and stews freeze excellently.
10. Separate Ingredients
If you’re bulk preparing meals like salads to take to lunch keep ingredients like soft cheeses, seeds, nuts and dressings separate to ensure your salad is in tip-top shape when it comes time to eat it. Having a few smaller containers, or a larger one with separate compartments makes this super simple and keeps everything delicious!
My bonus tip is to set yourself up with something you really enjoy to help pass the time while you’re doing your cooking. Personally, I get most of my podcast listening done while I’m in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, but you can watch a show on a tablet, or put on your favourite music – whatever takes your fancy. It really does make the time go faster and I’m doing something I want to do at the same time so it’s a win-win!