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Batch Cooking Tips and Tricks You Need to Know to Freeze Food and Save Money!
Have you ever started to attempt to batch cook or meal prep, in attempt to save money and time, but in the end failed miserably? Yeah….I’ve been there too! Which is how I came up with these batch cooking tips and tricks.
I was obsessed with making batch cooking and meal prepping work for me!
I wanted to be sure my family could eat healthy. Save money. And, (most importantly) I didn’t want to cook every single day!!
If you’re the same way, make sure you keep reading to find out the batch cooking tips and tricks I use to save my sanity (save me money and save me time)!
Why You Need a Meal Planning System as A Super Busy Mom
How to prepare to meal prep: how to meal prep for beginners
The Pros and Cons of Meal Prep for Already Busy Moms
Want to Remember This? Pin Batch Cooking Tips and Tricks You Need to Know! to your favorite Pinterest Board!!
Always Make a Plan
The first thing you need to do, before even starting to batch cook, is to make a plan.
No plan, no batch cooking.
Write it out on a napkin, use the notes app on your phone, type it up, or grab these prepping to meal prep templates to write down your plan and stay organized.
It doesn’t matter how or what you make your plan on, just make one, and reference it all through out your batch cooking session!
Make Sure You Have Enough Containers or Freezer Bags
One thing to remember to plan for while planning your batch cooking sessions, is to make sure you have enough freezer safe containers or freezer bags for everything you’ll be making.
It’s really disappointing, and inconvenient, to be in the middle of a huge batch cooking session and then realize you only have one freezer bag left! (Not like it’s happened to me before or anything…)
So, keep this in mind when planning out your sessions.
Make Sure Foods You Plan To Freeze Will Actually Freeze Well
Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not the food you’re cooking actually freezes well.
Believe it not, some foods are simply not meant to be frozen and then defrosted.
Or, if they are, maybe they’re meant to be frozen before a certain step in the recipe. Such as with soup, you need to chop up and freeze the veggies, beans, and anything else that freezes well, before cooking it. Otherwise it won’t turn out well when making it. And then, instead of saving money and time by batch cooking, you’ve wasted both (don’t ask how I know, haha!).
Another food that I’ve never been able to freeze well is cooked pasta; when you try to freeze cooked pasta and then thaw it out, it just turns out gross. So, unless you know of, or can find, directions to freeze cooked pasta so it doesn’t thaw gross, I’d stay away from this. It doesn’t take that long for pasta to cook, anyways! If you know of such directions, please leave them in the comments!!
Not sure? Look it up or ask someone who might know. If you found the recipe online, you could always ask in the comments or email the recipe creator to find out!
Use Meals Your Family Likes
The next tip I have for you is to batch cook meals your family likes!
Don’t just find a list of 10 freezer meals online in an article and make them because it’ll make you feel like you’ve been productive and feel like you’ve saved money.
If your family won’t eat the meals you made, then you just wasted your precious time, energy, and money!
Just don’t do it. If you’re not sure, make it for them once to see how they like it, then add it to a list of meals you’d like to batch cook. Never before.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
If you’re new to batch cooking, choose a few recipes to do at a time, or just one!
There’s no need to stress yourself out and try to do a meal prepping challenge, or try to batch cook enough meals for a whole month. Especially if you have little kids who need your attention every five minutes; you won’t get too far and will likely become frustrated.
Start with batch cooking ONE recipe, maybe 2 or 3 if you know you’ll have the time.
What I do, to not get overwhelmed, is batch cook breakfast. Sometimes snacks, too!
Just triple one or two recipes, like pancakes and waffles, and freeze them. Then all you have to do is stick them in the toaster or microwave for about 15 to 30 seconds and breakfast is ready!
Do the Math First!
Why would doing math be a good tip for batch cooking?
Well, when you’re doubling or tripling recipes, math is involved. There are ingredients to account for and you need to know how much of each you need, to make sure you don’t run out in the middle of a recipe!
Make Sure You Have Room to Freeze Your Food Properly
If you’re trying to meal prep and freeze meals for much later use, be sure you have room for everything you make, along with all the food you already have in your freezer.
If you only have the freezer that’s part of your fridge, you need to be very careful to not plan too many freezer meals; you don’t want to make food to simply have it go bad before you can eat it all!
On the other hand, if you have a deep freezer or chest freezer, you most likely won’t have to stress as much about the amount of freezer space you have.
Some Foods Need to Freeze on a Cookie Sheet First
Another thing you need to know before freezing food, is how to properly freeze it.
Some recipes can be frozen right when it’s done, with no special instructions.
Others will require you to stop half way through a recipe, or before cooking, and freeze it. Then thaw it and cook.
And, for other recipes, such as many breakfast recipes and baked goods, the foods need to cool completely, then freeze on a cookie sheet til completely frozen. And then placed in a freezer safe container.
This way moisture doesn’t get trapped in with the food.
Others Should Be Frozen in Smaller Portions
Once you freeze a food, you’ll be thawing it all together. Which means if you made doubled a soup recipe and froze it all in one freezer safe container or bag; you’ll be thawing it ALL when you want some. This makes it impossible to have it last two weeks, if that was your goal.
Instead, divide it into smaller portions, so you only thaw the food you need and can finish before it goes bad in the fridge. Be sure to remember this when planning the number of containers or freezer safe bags you’ll need, too.
If you’re freezing baby food, avocado to spread on toast, or something else that you’ll want to use in small quantity, make it easy on yourself and freeze it in small quantities!
Use an ice cream tray, baking cups (that are also freezer safe), or something similar. That way you’re saving time and money, not wasting it. These are the baking cups I have and use to freeze things in all the time. (There are other shapes, too, but my daughters like those ones the best!
Take Shortcuts Meal Prepping and Batching Food!
I’m all for healthy homemade food, what some people would call ‘slow food’, instead of fast food. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t take shortcuts to make our meal prepping time quicker!
The best shortcuts to take require the use of kitchen tools, and using them to our advantage!
Take a look at my favorite kitchen tools here.
Use a Food Processor
Food processors can be used for more than you may think, or at least more than I thought when I first bought mine!
Before I bought mine I thought the only thing they were good for were making healthy bars from nuts and dates. However, the whole reason I bought the food processor was to make vegan mac and ‘cheese’.
I’ve also found a food processor useful for grinding oats into oat flour, quickly shredding veggies, such as cabbage for spring rolls, making pesto, and more!
So, this kitchen tool is certainly worth the tiny investment for the amount of time you’ll be saving in the kitchen!
Use a Stand Mixer
I don’t know about you, but when I make Christmas cookies or home made bread, I don’t know what I would do without my KitchenAid. Especially bread! It used to take me a good 20 to 30 minutes to knead dough for bread by hand, it takes just minutes with a KitchenAid!
Another thing that is almost impossible to make without a KitchenAid or some type of electronic mixer is frosting. With just a whisk and bowl, I would have never been able to make this chocolate vegan frosting that my girls love so much. And sure, you may not be making frosting while batch cooking, but maybe you’ll be making cookies, bread, or something else where a stand mixer would cut your time in the kitchen in half or more!
Another batch cooking tip, that may not be so obvious but still saves you tons of time and money, is to freeze any leftovers you have from other meals you make.
But, only if the leftovers freeze well.
Let’s call this method ‘accidental batch cooking’ because maybe you didn’t mean to make so much food.
Maybe you just made a very large dinner one night, but you bought enough perishable groceries to make a new thing for dinner every night; this would be a great time to save and freeze any leftovers, then eat them the following week!
This is also very helpful if your family doesn’t like eating the same thing every night for dinner.
Let the Food Cool Before Freezing
Whether you’re freezing your ‘accidental batch cooking’ food, or planned on it, be sure to let the food cool completely before trying to freeze it!
If you don’t, you run the risk of not having it freeze properly, introducing ice in the food because of condensation, and other freezing fails that you shouldn’t have to deal with.
So, just keep the food out, let it cool, then freeze.
Label Your Food
Be sure to also label your food in the freezer, if you think it’ll stay in your freezer long enough, or are freezing similar meals and snacks.
I just have the freezer that’s part of my fridge right now, so nothing stays untouched for more than two weeks. But, before moving cross country; we had a chest freezer, and it’s nice to be able to glance at a bag and know what’s in it without any effort.
And, at the end of my husbands paternity leave, before he went back to work, I batch cooked burritos for him to take to work for lunches or for me to grab and heat up for an easy lunch myself. I must have made about 35 burritos, four different kinds!
All burritos look the same on the outside. And, we don’t enjoy the same type of burritos- if I hadn’t labeled them, then we would not have been happy!
Labeling your food will make it easier to tell what it is if you’re digging through a chest freezer and are only able to see part of the bag.
Be sure to label what the food is & the date you froze it, because food doesn’t stay good in the freezer forever!
Leave Room For Food to Expand
One last batch cooking tip.
Leave room in the freezer safe container or bag for the food to expand!
Especially any foods with liquids.
I still remember when my oldest was an infant and I was freezing breast milk for her in glass bottles, because that’s all we had. I made a rookie mistake of filling the bottle almost to the top. It exploded in the freezer; we lost a bottle, precious breast milk, and had a mess to clean up that day. 🙁
So, don’t make the same mistake I did; leave enough room in your container, or bag, for your food to freeze!
Batch Cooking Tips and Tricks
If you’re new to batch cooking or meal prepping, be sure to save this post for future reference, so you don’t make the same mistakes I did!
Go ahead and download this meal prepping template to keep you organized during your cooking session.
And….feel free to leave your batch cooking tips or mistakes in the comments below, so we can learn from each other!