|And this isn't even all of it!|
A dear friend and I bulk cook once a month. Here's how it works and why it simplifies my life:
1. Organize. Our very first meeting we talked about the types of food we like, who's house we'd do it at, and worked out child care (thankfully, her kids are old enough to babysit mine while we cook).
2. Recipes. We do 3 recipes every time we meet and make sure that we multiply the recipe enough for each of us to come away with 3 servings of each recipe. There are lots of cookbooks with great freezer recipes. Go to the library and check some out. Buy the books you like or just copy the recipes. My favorite book is Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik. Another tip: you don't need the recipe to be a freezer recipe to freeze it. Walk through the frozen food section at the store and for the most part, what they freeze - you can freeze.
3. Shop. We split the shopping. We mostly shop at Aldi's and Costco because they carry items cheaper than Harris Teeter or other grocery stores. We figure out the total and split the cost evenly.
4. Cook. We spend one morning (typically 3 hours) cooking. We do prep work ahead of time (like chop veggies, cook meat, etc) so it's basically just the assembly that we do that morning.
5. Freeze. We put our meals in the freezer (making sure they are labeled) and they are ready to go.
Bulk cooking has simplified my life more than any other thing I've blogged about. I serve inexpensive, healthy (for the most part), quick meals that all I have to do is take out of the freezer.
Caveat: You have to have the freezer space in order for this to work. We bought an extra one on Craigslist for a great price. And I'm convinced we've already paid for it with the money I save by cooking in bulk. Don't have the space for an extra freezer? Ask around! Maybe one of your friends has an extra one that's not full and you can use their freezer in exchange for a meal!