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Batch Cooking vs. Once-A-Month

A long, long time ago, back when I had more energy than I knew what to do with, I tried Once-A-Month-Cooking. One time. Once. Because even way back then, when I was probably twenty years younger than I am now, it was a TON of work. Now, I know people who do it regularly and love it, so please forgive me if I’ve stepped on your toes. I just know that for me, it was more work than I ever felt like doing again.

Despite my rejection of the two-day shopping/cooking marathon that is OAMC, I do see the wisdom behind it, and I’m a big believer in working smarter rather than harder. So over the years, I’ve developed my own way of cooking ahead. I’m not alone in this. Some people call it Big Cooking; others, like me, think of it as Batch Cooking.

Love my Bosch! πŸ™‚

The first time it dawned on me to try Batch Cooking was while mixing up dough for chocolate chip cookies. I thought, Too bad that I’m messing up my Kitchen Aid, spatulas, measuring spoons and measuring cups for just 24 cookies when I’ll probably do it all over again next week. I believe that was the last time I made a single batch of cookies … pretty much from that moment on, I decided to maximize the mess and whip up an extra couple of dozen cookies each time I assembled the ingredients. And I learned that by scooping the dough with my little ice cream scoop and lining them up close-but-not-touching on a baking sheet, then leaving them in the freezer for just a half an hour, I could package the frozen dough balls by the dozen in baggies and I’d always have cookies at the ready.

That’s kind of my approach to cooking anymore. Can I make an extra meal out of what I’m doing right now? It’s not any harder to double a pot of spaghetti sauce than it is to make just enough for one meal. You may as well get the maximum mileage out of the mess and all the simmering. And as long as I’m baking turkey legs for soup and casseroles, it only makes sense to bake a big old batch of turkey legs so I have some for the freezer too.

Even this meatloaf is a form of batch cooking. I made it so big that we had enough for dinner plus sandwiches through the week.

One of the things I do most regularly is to batch cook hamburger. About every two weeks I buy one big package of Costco hamburger (or more, depending on whether or not I see a lot of potlucks in my immediate future, or whether, like this week, I wantΒ to make a giant meatloaf at the same time) and cook it up all at once. Half gets seasoned with onions, green peppers, garlic and Italian seasoning. The other half gets onions, green and red bell peppers, maybe some green chilis (if I have it on hand), and a healthy shake of Tony’s Creole Seasoning. After the first batch is cooked, I put it in a large, shallow bowl to cool while I cook the second batch. I then measure the cooled, cooked meat mixture into gallon freezer bags, label “Italian Mix” or “Mexican Mix,” and throw them in my freezer. Then I’m ready for lasagna, tater tot casserole (a big–and recent–favorite with my family … who knew?), enchilada casserole, tacos … you get the picture.

So there’s the thought for the day: maximize your mess! πŸ™‚

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12 Comments on "Batch Cooking vs. Once-A-Month"

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Lachelle
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This is a great way to maximize your time. If I am making a casserole, lasagna, pot pie, meatloaf, taco meat, etc., I just make two….one for the table and one for the freezer. But I’m going to start doing this for cookie dough. Thanks, Shannon. πŸ™‚

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[…] the onion, garlic, green and/or red peppers and drain off the fat. If you’ve been doing some batch cooking,Β  pull out one of your baggies of hamburger and defrost before adding to the soup pot or crock […]

Annie
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Hi there! I found your blog while googling for a tater tot casserole recipe! Then I clicked over to this post and wanted to introduce myself! This is what I needed to read, because I have been adapting my kitchen time in this way and I love it. But, for some reason still felt bad not liking OAMC!! My philosophy is much more to make double and freeze the other! Not too much more work, but way worth it to have freezer meals! So, thanks and I look forward to future reading along!

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[…] cups precooked hamburger with onions and green […]

Anita Scheftner
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Hey Shannon πŸ˜€ We did our first…well first for a long while..(i did oamc and put my feet up for a week!) batch cooking the hamburger..and bought chicken breasts to boot and baked them up..and they are freezing as we read..can hardly wait for the long, hard day, or think ahead day we can just pull one out! Thanks for the inspiration πŸ˜€

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[…] … are you batch cooking […]

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[…] then while standing there watching it rise, it occurred to me that I could better spend that time batch cooking. Two big packages of Costco hamburger and four Costco trays of ground turkey were waiting in the […]

Kim (Kimmie ;)
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Love this! Such a time-saver. πŸ™‚
So thankful for my Bosch (from Craigslist, woot!).

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[…] is one of those dishes in which I use a bag of pre-cooked hamburger. (Discussed in my post on Batch Cooking vs. OAMC). Last week, I cooked about 10 lbs of hamburger — half seasoned for Italian dishes and half […]

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