Q#177–Have you ever tried “batch cooking” a month’s worth of reheat-able meals, & how did that work out?

I was going back and forth working on financial crap (commence with the weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth… and junk food consumption… dammit) and listening to some Reddit advice threads on YouTube. (Sometimes it’s enlightening, sometimes it’s trashy junk food for the brain… especially the caught “SO” cheating stories. Today I needed both after a hellacious week). And I came across something I’d heard about before, but totally forgot.

There was a story of a man who was totally overwhelmed with taking care of his family, the finances, and some relatives had trouble so they were wondering if they could fit extra people in the house… but the big thing was apparently his wife was a terrible cook and even with all he was doing, he still cooked every night (which added to his stress). Someone in the comments told him to stop this cooking every night crap and do some batch cooking, that there were ways to make enough meals to last a month, especially with a family of 5 to deal with.

It made me wonder about it. I’d thought about batch cooking before, but I hesitate when I think about my freezer space. This is probably why I’ve been thinking hard about my smoothies lately and clearing out all those bags of frozen fruit… it would definitely leave room for frozen meals.

But how? That’s the part I’m not totally sure of. Other than disposable freezer bags, I sort of hesitate to think what I could use that would hold up. And I don’t have the budget to go looking for new containers and crap like that. I do have a few silicone reusable bags, but they’re in all different sizes and I could only use them for small stuff. Better than nothing, of course, but I’d have to be really inventive with them beyond freezing fresh fruit (which I might use them for in the end, anyway, so there).

But that’s also NOT the biggest issue. How the hell do you make several meals in one day and not go crazy? I mean, it’s just me and the animals (and I don’t give table scraps), so any recipe could be nicely stretched a bit. I guess it’s more the aspect of finding room to store it all and the timing of the recipes (and the re-heating instructions). I long ago stopped getting Hamburger Helper and making those main dishes (filling the other compartments with frozen veggies with salt and pepper and some butter for flavor). That was like making my own tv dinners, and it did help me out a bit (but meat’s getting crazy now!). But the sheer amount of fat and sodium made me get away from them and try to learn to cook other stuff.

I’ve also gotten used to eating a lot less meat over the years because of the expense (unless it was burgers, which I’m trying to avoid because it was usually fast food), so most of my protein’s come from beans or a little dairy. I’m aiming for far less processed food over time.

I guess what’s making me skeptical is how much food, how much variety I’m willing to put into it, how long can I freeze it and not let it get freezer burn, or alternative storage methods. More importantly, how can I best reheat it. I’ve got a slew of cookbooks and I’m trying to get a handle on proper storage and re-heating, but with a bunch of books and little info in each, it’s slow going. I already have plans to make as authentic a Red Beans & Rice as I can (got the components–thanks America’s Test Kitchen), and because of the sheer expense of the meat, I will definitely want to freeze and store at least half of it to have later.

For someone who always made my red beans & rice out of a box… yeah, I can already tell I was making crap compared to what’s in this vid.

I’m hoping to keep to the overnight oats thing going for most mornings, and I have enough salsa jars to make it work for “batch prep” there. But those I can just make 4 at a time (they’re good for up to 5 days, from what I’ve read). And no cooking involved, which saves dishes. Smoothies for after work in the evenings will take some blending, but that’s about it. And as much as I keep saying I want to eat healthier and have more salads… let’s just say I’m amazed the head of red cabbage on the shelf in my fridge is still there and hasn’t rolled off and left a letter of resignation. I’ve chopped veggies for my birds and fed ’em, but keep forgetting to take time (after cleaning up their veggie bins) to chop up some for me and salads. So, the materials remain.

Besides, I highly doubt I’d make salads all that often, knowing my track record with them. This is where that batch cooking comes in handy.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem prepping the food. I like getting my nice knives and cookbooks out, looking at and learning recipes. I still get a bit worried about times and temperatures and such, but I’m able to focus my attention a little better and haven’t charred anything yet.

Where I fall short–drastically–is in the cleanup. I HATE doing the dishes and cleanup. But I think doing heavy cooking one day and cleaning up as I go would be far better than trying to cook a new meal every few days, pots and pans on the drying rack for ages because I get lazy like that.

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In my kitchen, those dishes would probably be on the drying mat for weeks… unless I get in the Zone cleaning-wise, then it’s all pretty and pristine (sigh).

Yes, it’s annoying, and stupid, but I’m trying to work on it. Hence why I’m thinking hard on one big cooking/prepping day and just need some helpful resources or advice if you happen to have some. I’ll dig around online, too, and see if there’s something that makes sense. It’s just bad timing of a sort because I’m looking for more work at the same time.

On the other hand, if I end up with weird shifts and work, one day to cook everything and just reheat for a month sounds like a helluva good idea…hmm…

Anyhoo, I’m just curious if anyone’s tried taking one day to make several weeks’ worth of meals and stored them, and if there were any things that you would/wouldn’t recommend to make the process easier? And also, does it really help save a bunch of money in the long run, or did you get sick of the food and end up throwing it out? What would you recommend a newbie at this to look for or do before starting?

Floor’s yours…

6 thoughts on “Q#177–Have you ever tried “batch cooking” a month’s worth of reheat-able meals, & how did that work out?

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      The sounds pretty good. I’m aiming for about 2 weeks (or at least every other Sunday). That way I can make about 3 meals (plus smoothies or oats) that I can rotate in and out and not get bored. And it gives me a little time to experiment and find new recipes. If I have one of those really big recipes (like 8 servings) and need to freeze and thaw to eat, I’ll split the makings in half so I’m not eating on the same thing for a week straight. Figured that out late yesterday. Just need to keep it all organized (that’ll be the fun part).

      At least looking up recipes are gonna be awesome. I’m gonna do that red beans and rice today (though I’m gonna use the meats in the traditional recipe–good thing about big chain grocery in Texas is they know we like Louisiana cooking and tasso and pickled pork shoulder aren’t hard to find after all!)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. bobcabkings says:

    I have sometimes made a big pot of chili and packed most of it in single serving bags to freeze. I didn’t try to eat it for a month, but interspersed it with other dinners. That system works pretty well. I don’t get tired of the same thing too often, but it is handy a quick to heat up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      I am bad at anticipating how much bean chili I’ll end up actually making when I’d make a pot (using dried beans and their expansion and all) and I’d have so freaking much I’d bring it to school and put it in a crock pot for bake sales (we did get a lot of money that way, but I couldn’t freeze that much and didn’t wanna eat on it for months). Now that I’ve got some good cookbooks with tips (I love America’s Test Kitchen’s scientific approach to cooking, helps me understand what to look for when I’m doing something, and I’ve just gotten started!)

      Liked by 2 people

      • bobcabkings says:

        I’ve never tried to do chili starting with dried beans. I cheat, and start with canned chili with beans, then add veggies (usually chopped onions, peppers, and mushrooms, but diced squash works well too), either brown rice or crushed up toastada. and to serve, top it with cheese. So, I don’t end up with a huge batch.

        Liked by 1 person

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