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Batch cooking or batch prepping in my home has become a necessity. It cuts down on how long it takes for me to get a lunch or a dinner on the table by front-loading my work.
I spend time at the beginning of the month (right after I do my major grocery shopping) cooking and portioning out food. And I also spend some time weekly (generally on weekends) preparing other foods that will help throughout the week.
Getting this batch cooking and prepping done early on makes all of my kitchen work run so much more smoothly, and really helps when something unexpected pops into my schedule. More often than not I can shift gears in the kitchen, rather than turn to more expensive and less healthy convenience foods.
Let me tell you how my system works!
Batch Cooking-Ground Beef
I buy two big packages of ground beef at Costco every month, it comes to around thirteen pounds total.
Within a few days of going to Costco (I try to time this for a weekend day) I will get out my big electric skillet and cook the beef, one package at a time (one whole package fits in my skillet!). I season it with salt and pepper, and let it drain on a pan lined with paper towels.
Once all of the beef has cooled, I portion it out into Ziploc bags and place it in the freezer. I generally end up with about 12 bags of cooked meat.
I will use this meat throughout the month for pasta sauce, taco meat, homemade hamburger helper, and rice dishes.
Cooking the ground beef ahead of time shaves about fifteen minutes off of the total time it takes to cook the meal. The best part is, I don’t have to remember to de-thaw the meat!
I can just toss it into the skillet and it will thaw as it cooks with the sauce of whatever it’s going into.
I am always hit or miss with thawing things in time. Half the time, I will remember and set it out in time, but cooked ground beef thaws out really quickly in a sauce, so it’s no biggie!
The way I batch cook my chicken isn’t really cooking at all, it’s processing. When I go to Costco, I will buy 3-4 rotisserie chickens (depending on whether I still have any in the freezer) and I will sit down and pull all of the meat off of the bones.
I divide it up into meal sized portions, put it in Ziplocs and put it in the freezer. I can expect to get about 2.5 bags full out of each chicken, so I end up putting 7-10 bags of chicken into the freezer.
The chicken will be used in tacos, enchiladas, casseroles, rice dishes, and sometimes, we’ll just have a big salad night, so I’ll set it out for toppings for that.
It’s cheap, easy, and works perfectly in a pinch!
I cook up two pressure cooker pots full of dried beans each week, one of pinto, one of black beans. Each pot holds six cups of dried beans, so that is a ton of cooked beans at the end of the process!
I store the beans in their cooking liquid in plastic containers, that I buy at the restaurant supply store.
We use these beans throughout the week for lunches, and also in recipes for dinner. I hate buying canned beans because they are too expensive, and opening enough of those little cans to feed my family is exhausting!
I buy the dried beans in 50 lb bags for about $22, so I am saving a lot of money over canned beans.
My kids and husband love cilantro lime rice, so I make up one or two batches a week to go with beans for lunch, or to have with tacos. I store it in the large plastic containers , and the kids just dish it out as needed for their lunches.
Batch Prepping-Fruits and Vegetables
I will batch-prep fruits and vegetables to have on hand and ready to serve along with meals, and for snacks. Fruits and veggies are the only snack foods that I keep in the house, so keeping them prepped and ready is important.
I do this once a week and get my children in on the action. I like to keep peeled sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, celery, peeled and sectioned oranges ready in the refrigerator.
I try to arrange my week so that I have time for all of the batch cooking and prepping on the weekend. It takes up a few hours of time, but the time savings throughout the week makes it so worth it!