Where growing, making & good living come together

What are your favourite recipes to batch cook?

Posted by on Friday 1 July 2011 in cooking, Featured, frugal | 9 comments

I mentioned in passing the other week that we’ve got a bit more freezer space these days and I’m keen to fill it with homemade ready meals and good food, so there is no room for processed stuff (or vast quantities of ice cream) from the supermarket.

John and I don’t particularly batch cook but we do generally cook large portions of things – nearly everything that takes longer than, say, 20 minutes is made in double portions (so it’s two dinners for the two of us) but a pasta sauce or curry might be eight or ten portions (two fresh dinners for us, the rest frozen for future use). Making a large batch of pasta sauce or curry doesn’t take any longer than a small one but the leftovers only take a few minutes to reheat next time.

But then I hear about people doing proper en masse batch cooking and I feel like such a homemade ready meal amateur. For example, this wonderful lady managed to make 46 dinners for her family of four, from things that cost just $96 in a reduced-to-clear meets batch cooking extravaganza.

I’d like to start batch cooking more – making eight to ten portions of any one thing at a time – but I’d like a bit more variety — the aforementioned curry (usually keema & chickpea achar) and pasta sauces are great, as are soups and versatile bean chillis, but I’d welcome more ideas for a bit of a change, and also to have ideas in mind so I can take advantage of more reduced-to-clear type bargains.

Do you batch cook? Do you set aside an afternoon/evening every so often to do it or do you just do it as you’re going along? What are your favourite recipes?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Deb

    I have done lots of batch cooking in the past, but my keenness for it was somewhat thwarted by our freezer dying and losing many hours of hard work! Now I suppose I have more time to cook on a daily basis too and make bigger portions and freeze the leftovers as you do…

    I still do make is our house pasta sauce, it makes about 28 portions and really not that expensive to make (and has saved us from take-away many a time). I also still make soup if we have leftover veg and an occasional crumble with leftover fruit! I used to make quite a few stews and curries and sometimes a courgette pasta bake which doesn’t freeze brilliantly but uses up courgettes!

    Really interested to hear what everyone else batch cooks..

  2. Attila

    Beef bolognaise, beef or quorn mince chilli, soups, tomato and veg pasta sauce (also ditto with bacon or chicken), curries of various sorts, cakes, fishpies (but only small batches). I also do things like cook pasta or rice to eat hot with something today, but cook double and make salad with it for the next day.

  3. Maria

    on the meat front, beef bolognaise as Attila mentioned, or beef stew with lots of veggies, are good ones to batch cook and freeze. Meatballs are my favourite – if you make meatballs with 500gr minced beef, 500gr minced pork, 2 eggs, 2 cloves of garlic, bread crumbs, some milk, parsley, salt & pepper, you get a LOT of meatballs, and they freeze really well (freeze on trays before transferring to a bag so they don’t all clump together).
    I’m not a massive batch cooker either though. I’m not great with freezers – have a habit of freezing stuff and then forgetting it in there for ages!

  4. Linda

    Mainly stew or soup. Mainly make a double, eat one, freeze one arrangement. Pressure cooking now so not as much time advantage as there used to be, also growing kids eating more and harder to make freezing portion (i.e. stop people (usually DH) going for seconds and leaving insufficient for a meal to freeze)

  5. Niki

    I do what Linda does as far as doubling up and eating one and freezing one. Soups are definitely our go to thing, but casseroles are great too. It’s just summer here, so we are trying not to use the oven as much. We have freezing snack foods too, like chocolate covered banana slices or eggrolls.

  6. louisa

    Deb: 28 portions! I feel like an amateur again with my 8-10 portions ;) I can imagine how annoying the freezer defrosting thing would be – at least now we’ve got two (small) freezers we’ll have a bit of redundancy ;) I made a courgette ratatouille thing last year with our courgette & tomato glut — the courgettes were a little soggy on defrosting but it made a yummy veg side dish throughout the year.

    Atilla: we used to do the pasta/rice thing all the time but have got out of the habit recently – not sure why as I’d prefer not to cook on these hot days! thanks for reminding me to start doing it again :)

    Marie: mmm meatballs! thanks for the recipe – I’m going to try to save some mince (from our meat delivery box) for those now — love the idea of just being able to pick out a couple for a quick meal when needed.

    Linda: I went through a phase of putting the second portion into freezable tubs immediately to discourage seconds from the pan/oven dish – but I think it’s easier to do that when it’s just the two of us and not including hungry kids :)

    Niki: I like casserole type things that can be reheated on the hob in a few minutes rather than taking an hour in the oven/on the stove when freezer — save heating up the kitchen on these hot days. Good idea about freezing snacks too.

  7. Shoestring

    As you probably know, I’m a batch cooking freak! I haven’t done that much in recent weeks though (it’s a time/season thing). I’m always on the look out for ideas too though as I seem to do the same old thing again and again! Here’s my list for what it is worth: Beef casserole, Beef stew (yes, they are different!), lasagne, tomato and basil sauce, shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, bolognese sauce, bangers with mash and onion gravy, meatballs in sauce and curries. My friend also makes chilli con carne and freezes it!

  8. Alison

    As we only have a small freezer (2 drawers + 1/2) I’ve not had much space to batch cook. I try, when I cook chilli or spag bol to keep some to freeze but with my greedy (but skinny) OH it’s difficult. When we are sorted we are going to purchase a big freezer and I will start to batch cook as much as possible.

  9. louisa

    Shoestring: come on then, tell us the difference between the stew & the casserole ;)

    Alison: that’s how we started doing it too – just freezing the extra portions. We’re greedy (but not skinny!) too but I realised I could thwart the desire for seconds if I put it into tubs for freezing while I was serving the rest – while it was in the pan, it was fair game but when it was in the tubs, having seconds would be stealing food from future us ;)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *