I absolutely LOVE the idea of batch cooking. The thought of opening my freezer, grabbing out a homemade, largely preservative free meal and being able to serve up a delicious, healthy dinner even on the craziest of weeknights is tantalizing. So tantalizing that I've scoured blogs and read batch cooking cookbooks for information.
But here's the thing... I barely have time to brush my teeth on a daily basis, so when I read these blogs/books about batch cooking and they are telling me to set aside no less than 2 days for a batch cooking extravaganza-- which for a working mom such as myself means AN ENTIRE WEEKEND-- I die a little inside. Not only do I not have the time to take a weekend away from my family and work commitments, but I also HATE the idea of being in the process of cooking for 2-3 days. It makes my feet hurt just thinking about it. Nonetheless, I WANT to have a fully stocked freezer.
Then I had an Oprah style "Ah ha!" moment. What if I didn't have to devote an ENTIRE weekend to batch cooking, yet could have yummy, homemade meals at my disposal? And thus, the Busy and/or Lazy Mom's Guide to Batch Cooking was born!
First, I make my monthly meal plan. I use this free printable calendar from Life Your Way as my meal planner. On days that I know I'll have a little more time (read: Saturday and Sunday), I plan meals that are easily doubled (or even tripled) and freeze well. Then, when those days come up, voila! I batch cook. So, for instance, on a lasagna day, I double the recipe then cook one lasagna and freeze the other.
No muss, no fuss. It takes me MAYBE 10 extra minutes, but I get to have a sense of satisfaction and togetherness!
When I first started looking into batch cooking, I couldn't fathom buying a bunch of disposable baking pans to freeze my meals in, nor did I like the idea of tying up my bakeware by leaving it in the freezer for weeks on end, so I got a little creative in how I freeze my foods. I line my baking pan with freezer paper-- waxy side up-- and then spray the paper with a light coating of cooking spray. After that, I assemble my dish as usual.
Then, when I pull the meal out of the freezer, I take the paper off of it, set the frozen food into the baking pan and thaw. Easy peasy!
I will admit that sometimes I do squeeze in a little more batch cooking. This past weekend I put together some freezable Crockpot meals (Goulash and Orange Chicken) for Diesel and Little Man to eat this week when I'm not home. These were SUPER easy, because they amounted to chopping food, opening cans and tossing everything into a freezer bag. THAT is my kinda cooking. In the morning, I dump everything into the Crockpot and set it to run for the appropriate time and when the Cluttered boys get home, dinner is ready! (Now I just have to hope that the Crockpot decides it doesn't hate me anymore and doesn't overcook/ruin the meals!).
On top of my dinner batch cooking, I did a little breakfast batch cooking when I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Saturday. I figured, if I'm making 6, I might as well make (over) 2 dozen cinnamon rolls for the next time the cinnamon roll bug bites me!
I also whipped up a batch of 12 egg muffins. These are even better than the golden arches' version, because in my version I get a whole wheat English muffin and Havarti!
Plus, I had a cute little helper!
So there you have it folks, the Busy and/or Lazy Mom's Guide to Batch Cooking!