Avoiding the Drive Through: Batch Cooking

Prepare for your kitchen to explode when you do batch cooking!

I love to cook.  Ever since I was in college I’ve loved experimenting with new recipes and finding ways to make my favorite meals at home, and better than I can get them at a restaurant.  It appeals to my frugal side too, as eating out can quickly diminish the balance in your checking account.  But sometimes, cooking gets to be too much.  After a long day at work, or a day out kayaking, or when I’m sick in bed, cooking is nothing but a chore.  So how do you handle those days without making a run to the local fast food chain?  The answer lies in batch cooking.

I’ve done batch cooking before, but I was inspired to do it again by a series of posts written by my good friend Natalie on her blog: Girl and Dog Adventure.  She did a great series on batch cooking as a way to control portion size and save money.  A quick google search will reveal tons of different ways to do batch cooking, some complete with recipes, shopping lists, and time tables of what to do when.  For my batch cooking day, I just planned out a few meals, made extra portions, and froze them for later.  It was a lifesaver for my four day call weekend, and helped us avoid the drive through or having to eat pasta every night.

I chose a few recipes, then tweaked them to fit my dietary restrictions and to use some homemade ingredients.  I made a triple batch of Shepherd’s Pie, a half batch of Pastor Ryan’s Mexican lasagne (which still ended up being two batches for us), and started the chicken marinating for Pioneer Woman’s Ranch Chicken.

For the mexican lasagne, I used a homemade enchilada sauce that I already had in the fridge, sprouted corn tortillas, and daiya dairy free cheese substitute instead of regular cheese.  (This is the best cheese substitute I’ve found, and doesn’t contain casein like some of the other brands do).  Everything was absolutely delicious, and while I did spend about 3.5 hours in the kitchen one afternoon, the time it saved me over my busy weekend was priceless.  One batch of shepherd’s pie went to work for a potluck, one stayed in the fridge for the weekend, and one went in the freezer.  The mexican lasagne was split into two dishes, one in the fridge, one in the freezer.  I only made one batch of ranch chicken, but it would have been just as easy to make up the marinade and freeze another batch.  So I ended up with dinner for the whole weekend, and I still have my freezer meals for another busy day.  Definitely worth it!

Have you ever tried batch cooking?  If you have any great recipes, share them in the comments section.  I’m always looking for more great recipes!



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