One of the biggest benefits of home cooking is; you can start cooking in batches. It automatically prevents waste, saves both money and time. Thus making life pretty organized and anxiety-free. You don’t end up using precious office time pondering on what to eat and prepare. Neither do you fret in case you work late and may not get time to cook.
The factors you need to keep into consideration while cooking in Batches (bulk) are:
i) Plan in Advance to Prepare in Bulk
Planning is of utmost importance before you start cooking in batches.
Firstly, decide on which meals and how many meals/dishes do you want to cook. Do you want to prepare all meals or only weekday dinners, or lunches and dinners both? It is totally a personal choice. Remember, there is no right or wrong about it. You take a call depending on what suits your lifestyle and family.
ii) Time to be allotted to cook in batches
Start with making a list before you cook in batches (bulk). Do it only after you figure out which meals/dishes in addition to the number of days of the week/month you want to prepare for. Firstly, you decide on staples. Secondly, the recipes and ingredients for them. After listing them you go shopping and then store or refrigerate them. All of this could take a day or maximum two, depending on the number of meals to be prepared. Remember, in case you are buying for the month some food items are perishable. For instance; tofu, fruits or salads.
iii) Plan and Buy as per Resources
Cooking in bulk or batches saves money -thus, it is to be in sync with the monthly earning cycle. Therefore, it is best to plan shopping as per cash flow. You could even use coupons or go on-sale dates. It is applicable only if you are want to do some savings. Look out for manufacturer coupon deals.
Choose meals with similar ingredients while cooking in batches (bulk) so that there is minimal wastage. For instance, if you are buying lettuce for a salad, you could also make a burger and use lettuce rather than wasting the leftover. Or for example: If you only need half a can of tinned black beans for the tacos you plan to use the rest for soups or burritos. Plan your recipes based on similar ingredients to avoid wastage and save cost.
iv) Cook Thematically
Cooking in Batches (Bulk) is an art. Try cooking thematically. Look at your recipes and check for common ingredients. While cooking in bulk – take out one main ingredient at a time and try using it for different dishes. This way – you won’t have to peel, chop, saute, fry or boil the same ingredient again and again.
Say potatoes: they can be used for mashed potatoes as a side dish, potato wedges with burgers, potato fries as finger food, potato chickpea salad, and potato chickpea patties. Thus, you can cook them at the same time. Fries can go in the air-fryer, wedges can go in the bake, pot to boil can go on the stove and so on and so forth.
If you are cooking carrots – make different dishes out of carrot so that you can either chop, boil, saute, grate or bake them before you freeze them. You could also make a lot of meals with one basic ingredient.
v) Use Flash Freezing techniques in Bulk cooking
Not only cooking in batches – pay attention to how to freeze your food cooked in bulk. When you freeze stuff together they tend to stick to each other. Thus, making it difficult to thaw when you take them out of the freezer at a later date.
For instance: you have to freeze chicken drumsticks, corn sticks as well as fries all to be eaten on the same day. Keep them all spread out on an open tray and freeze them. Once frozen you can stack them together and freeze them in a box or packet together to save time looking for them and save storing space.
There are many hacks available on Videos to freeze stuff creatively. Use ice trays to stock and freeze curry paste, pasta or pizza sauce, or soup stocks. You could use these iced curry paste cubes to be stored and used at a later date. Thus, bulk cooking not only saves time – it also makes life simple and organised.
vi) Mark the items as per their use
Looking for food items kept in the refrigerator can be painstakingly slow or tedious. Thus, when you cook in batches (bulk) – before you place the items in the refrigerator mark the items.
Take a masking tape/labels or a permanent marker to write what is where. You could also do smaller packets and put them all in one big packet per day to make life simpler for you. This also helps when you cook and leave for work and someone else in the family has to take it out of the freezer. In case you travelling you could also write the name of the dish on the packet so that it is easy to recognize which packet to pull out of the freezer or cheese tray.
In our busy lives, we could easily forget which meal you cooked – thus, you could pin up your weekly or monthly meal plan so that you know what you are looking for when you open the fridge. The more you practise cooking in batches the more new ideas you will emerge with. Just try it once and see how it changes your life!
vii) Be Creative while Cooking in Batches:
Cooking in batches is like any other cooking – similar to meditation. Your creativity invents new dishes every now and then, you have space and time.
You can use leftovers by using your imagination. Leftover lamb chops or butter chicken can be shredded and filled in a hot sandwich for breakfast or that evening snack you crave for. Potato fries or wedges eaten with ‘beef burgers’ if leftover can be used to make ‘Honey Chili Potatoes’ as finger food or eaten with fish – as Fish and Chips or just tossed in BBQ sauce or sprinkled with chilli flakes and baked with cheese on top.
Take-Home by WellnessWorks
Thus, cooking in batches (bulk) is a growing need amongst the office goers living in urban spaces. It is best suited to nuclear families where the cost of running a kitchen can go totally out of bounds if it is not planned and organised every month. Bulk cooking also makes sure there is minimal wastage of food items you buy as you already know what you will do with it in case there is any leftover.
I have invented a method that works really well for me. In case I have leftover food when I cook in bulk for a dinner spread – I use it in two ways. Firstly, I think of impromptu dinner invitations to one or two close people who I can invite even after work on a weekday. In case I have a paucity of time, and I don’t feel like eating the dishes again I do the following. Either I freeze the food with an expiry date labelled or else I just pack it in give away boxes and drop by a friend or relatives home after dinner. I give the dish/es as a token of love. When I give I always say; “I thought of you while I was cooking this today because I know you like it. I hope you like it.”
Trust me, I have ample experience in this. A small gesture like this always increases bonds and makes you want to cook in Batches even more than you already do. It also keeps my love for cooking in batches (bulk) alive by the great compliments I receive whenever I gift food. I love indulging in the Joy of Giving!