So in my perfect world I would just go to the grocery store every day and see what inspires me for dinner. Unfortunately in the real world "ain't no body got time for that!". By trying to make at least a few freeze ahead dinners every Sunday you can avoid the dreaded what to make for dinner after work. I've heard of some mystical creatures that make a months worth of dinners but i've never managed that. Maybe one day! Here's what my typical batch cook day looks like:
1. Completely clean the entire kitchen and make sure the sink and dishwasher is empty. (Trust me don't skip this step).
2. I chop up and prep most of the recipes ingredients before. (Just store in the fridge what you won't be using for a while).
3. Organize the meals into two groups. Ones that are pre cooked (like a soup or casserole) and ones that are raw and will be cooked in a slowcooker.
4. Make the un cooked slow cooker meals first and add them to their ziplocs or containers and freeze.
5. Cook the rest of the meals by time and temp. It's a bonus if you can cook two things at once at the same temp.
6. Let everything cool then either add the fridge or freezer depending on recipe and when you'll be eating it.
7. Clean clean clean.
My top 10 Make-Ahead and Freezer Tips
- Get a good slow cooker that has 6-7 quart capacity, has a timer, and has a warming function for after the timer goes off.
- Stock up on glass containers, which are great because you can freeze and reheat in the same container (plus they don't leach our harmful chemicals from plastics!). Also stock up on ziploc bags.
- Chop frequently used ingredients ingredients like onions and garlic all at once, and just distribute amount needed to each recipe when the time comes. This will save on cleanup, and watery eyes!
- Use fresh, not previously frozen, meat in the dishes. Meat should never be thawed and then re-frozen.
- If the dishes are being cooked prior to freezing, cool to room temperature or until the steam has stopped, then cool completely in the refrigerator before freezing. This will avoid freezer burn or excess moisture in the dish when it is reheated.
- Choose recipes that freeze well. Casseroles, one-pot meals, soups, chili, and meatballs all stand up to the freezer well.
- Choose recipes that can easily be doubled or tripled.
- Label everything with the name of the dish, when it was prepared, and thawing/reheating instructions in case someone else is preparing dinner.
- Clean as you go. Everyone is different, and some may prefer to just tackle the massive sink of dishes at the end of the day, but that overwhelms me. If something is cooking on the stove, I try to jump in and clean up as much as possible while I wait. For things like measuring cups and spoons that I may need over and over again, I hand wash them as I go so I can use them as needed.
- Plan Ahead. Make a list of the meals you want to make, then make your grocery list. Shop one day, and cook the next so the day isn’t too full. Try to organize your list by the department the items can be found in the grocery store (i.e. produce, meats, dairy). If I need the same ingredient for multiple dishes, I write the different amounts needed on the same line in pencil then add it up at the end so I know how much total I need to buy. For instance, if I’m making 4 dishes that call for various amounts of ground beef, I’d write: Ground Beef: 1 pound, 1/2 pound, 3/4 pound and then purchase 2 1/4 pounds
Do you batch cook? What's your best tip I want to know!