Batch Cooking and FreezingPosted: September 19, 2013
My household has 2 adults and 3 young kids. We are blessed with celiac disease in the household, therefore we do essentially all of our cooking at home. Dining out is saved for social occasions, maybe once or twice a month. I’m so glad that I actually like cooking – but with the volume of food prep that we do at home, batch cooking and freezing is necessary.
I have really hit a stride with batch cooking and freezing. It is so worth it. A little extra time up front really pays off later. I used to make double a recipe and have leftovers. Now I make quadruple a recipe and freeze it. And now that I’m in a pretty good rhythm with it, the return on investment is so clear. Like when everyone gets home at the end of the day and everyone is hungry and ready for dinner now – it’s awesome to just pull some frozen burger patties from the freezer, warm up some of the cooked rice that’s in the fridge, and the bulk of the work in the moment is to cook some fresh veggies. Here are some of the things I regularly batch cook and freeze. I always use a meat thermometer to indicate to me when the meat is ready, and I always label the freezer bag with the date using a sharpie marker. It feels like a real industrial kitchen around here – without all the additives.
- Ground beef burger patties – I cook 4 lbs of patties on the grill, which yields about 24 burgers. I usually season the beef with Moroccan-inspired spice blend. I freeze about 8 per quart-sized ziplock bag.
- Chicken Sausage patties – I cook 3 lbs of ground chicken and season them like breakfast sausage. These are pan fried in coconut oil, so they take more effort than just throwing burgers on the grill – but certainly worth it. Again, about 8 fit into a quart-sized ziplock bag. The yield from 3 lbs is about 18.
- Chicken Breast – I buy about 24 chicken breasts, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, and grill them. Then I dice them and freeze one and a half breasts in a quart-sized ziplock freezer bag. I’ll get 16 packs of frozen cooked diced chicken breast. I particularly love these because of how versatile they are. I can throw them into chile, a rice dish, a quinoa dish, or a soup, and have a 20-minute meal.
- Chicken Stock – I definitely cook this in batches and always want to have it stocked in the freezer. Click here for recipe/method.
- Bacon – Find a high quality bacon and cook up 3 lbs of it. I like to buy bacon from the farmers market, or Applegate brand. I did find 3 lbs of bacon from Costco that purportedly came from vegetarian fed, antibiotic free pigs, so I tried it. I cook bacon in the oven at 375 for about 20/25 minutes in a roasting pan that has a rack. Cooking bacon in large quantities is nice because you only have to clean the pan once for all those batches! When it was cool I wrapped it in paper towel and stored in in the freezer in a gallon ziplock bag. If you’re really into it – you can use the bacon grease to cook with later, but do note that whatever you cook in it will taste like…bacon.
- Pancakes/Waffles – I make 4 times the amount listed on the mix package. I usually use Pamela’s gluten free mix because it is certified GF. I have a Belgian waffle maker that was purchased at Costco. So making waffles is actually easier than making pancakes because I don’t have to stand there and watch them for flipping. I freeze 2 in a freezer bag, and they are especially useful for school mornings for my kids. They reheat really fast in the toaster over, and they taste great. Van’s frozen waffles are certified GF, but are much more expensive than the certified GF mix.
- Whole Chickens – I’ll cook two of these on a weekend afternoon. We can eat the bone-in pieces for dinner, and then have the breasts as leftovers for cooking fajita chicken or whatever. I don’t necessarily do any freezing here because the leftovers are eaten fast enough. I have learned that it doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to cook a whole bird. 🙂
- Cooked Rice – I don’t freeze this – but when I make rice, I always make 2 cups of rice and have it ready in the fridge for when I want to use it. I always cook it in homemade chicken broth. Again, this is great for fast meal prep, and gets paired with the frozen chicken breast frequently.
- Chili – I’ll cook a large pot of chili with the intention of freezing most of it. These work great for lunches that can be taken to work. I freeze lunch-sized portion in quart-sized freezer ziplock bags.