The joy of (batch) cooking

The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.
~George Miller

What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking is cooking in bulk. Cook a bunch and freeze it in individual portions, or just eat it for a week straight. It works best for single people or couples, but can be adapted to families.

Why batch cook?
Because it’s cheap and easy. It’s easier to cook a whole pot of chili than a single bowl, and you can cook when you have the time to and save the food for when you don’t. You can also use all the ingredients at once instead of staring at a moldy half bell pepper whenever you open the fridge.

Batch cooking is ideal for single people who find themselves too tired or busy to cook during the week. Forget sandwiches, (they get old), TV dinners (yuck), and eating out (expensive!). I like batch cooking two dishes at once, so I have one thing to eat for lunch and another for dinner. All I have to do is heat it up and eat. Sure, you eat the same thing for a week straight, but it’s a good, cheap, home-cooked meal!

What do you need?
Just cooking implements. A crock pot is nice, but not absolutely necessary. If you need to watch portioning carefully, you may need enough containers to put the food in. Personally, I just leave it in a big container and portion that day’s lunch out in the morning before work. Other than that, it’s just cooking a lot of food at once.

What can you cook in batches?
Everything. I’ve batch cooked things like chicken-fried steak and potato soup.

Easy meals to batch cook:
Chili. Chili’s easy, cheap, and versatile. You can make it vegetarian or not, use whatever you happen to have on hand, and it makes all sorts of dishes. You can eat it just plain in a bowl, on bread as a sandwich, on tortilla chips as nachos, on fritos as frito pie, or concoct your own dish.
Egg/tuna/chicken salad. It’s easier to whip up big batches of this than it is to whip up just a serving or two.
Almost anything you can cook in a crock pot. Crock pots just lend themselves to batch cooking. For a few ideas, try A Year of Slow Cooking.
Lasagna. Cook it in a crock pot or just in the stove, this is a batch cooking staple.
Soups and stews. With a big enough pot or crock pot, you can cook the crap out of these and never run out of recipes.
Chinese. Anything over rice can be pretty easily batch-cooked. Pepper beef, fried rice, cashew chicken, stir fries.
Desserts! If you’ve got the willpower, desserts are a cinch. My favorites are rice pudding and a family recipe known fondly as “green shit.”

Happy eating!

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4 Responses to “The joy of (batch) cooking”

  1. WhiteFox Says:

    Awesome entry, and I’m loving the crockpot link. I’m trying to do more slow cooking meals, so it was perfect timing :D

  2. Sweet, and I finally washed my crockpot!

  3. Any chance of posting this mysterious green desert recipe?

    • Haha, yeah, it’s pretty easy.

      Ingredients:

      1 package lime flavored Jell-O mix
      1 can/bottle 7-Up
      1 shorty can pineapple chunks/tidbits
      1 package cream cheese

      Open and drain pineapple chunks.
      Microwave (or leave out for a while) the cream cheese until soft.

      In a large bowl, add Jell-O mix and the amount of hot water specified on the package. Instead of cold water, add in that amount of 7-Up. Stir until mix is dissolved. Add in pineapple, then cream cheese, breaking the cream cheese up into a creamy paste. Let cool in a fridge several hours until whole thing gets the Jell-O consistency. Serve.

      It sounds bizarre but it’s pretty fantastic. I haven’t made it in years, but now that I think about it, I totally should.

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