Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bulk cooking 1

And I've been writing this blog for just over 3 months now, every day except my vacation!

This is an idea with all sorts of names and even more approaches. Some focus on saving time, others on saving money, some on both. But the general idea is to cook a lot of food at one time to save time later. Remember, as always, to handle food safely.

The easiest way to explain it is to give one example, meant for one or two people with only  minimal freezer space. On Saturday, fix a beef or pork roast and a large whole chicken and roast them in the oven at the same time, adding vegetables to the roast broth and giblets to the chicken broth to cook (I like potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms myself). Put a large pot of rice to cook, and cut up a couple of heads of lettuce and some tomatoes and cucumbers and mix a couple of large salads while the roasts are in the oven. Cover and refrigerate the salads, cool and refrigerate the rice.

When the roasts are done, slice some of the beef or pork and serve with the cooked vegetables and salad for supper while the rest of the meat cools. Refrigerate leftover salad and vegetables. By the time you finish supper, the meat should be cool enough to handle. Divide the rest of the roast in half and freeze one portion and refrigerate the other. Cut up the chicken, with the meat from each breast frozen separately for a meal, and the rest of the meat divided into in half. Freeze the two containers of breast meat and half of the rest of the meat, then refrigerate the rest of the meat, the giblets, and the carcass.

On Sunday, heat up a large soup pot of water. Add the chicken carcass and diced giblets, salt, pepper, a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, and garlic (if you like it), cover and turn down the heat to simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the bones and add the refrigerated chicken meat, leftover vegetables from the roasts or a couple of cups of rice if there aren't many vegetables. Simmer for about 1/2 an hour more, and serve with bread and salad. Have leftover soup for lunch the next couple of days.

On your Monday, warm the leftover roast in a pan with BBQ sauce, serve over rice with salad on the side. Before bed, take a chicken breast out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator.

On Tuesday night, dice the chicken breast, warm up with cheese, and serve over rice with salad on the side. Before bed, take a package of the roast out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator.

On Wednesday night, make open-faced sandwiches, toasted with cheese in the oven. Serve with salad. Before bed, take the package of non-breast meat out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator.

On Thursday night, dice and warm up the chicken meat, adding taco seasoning. Make soft tacos with diced tomato, onion, and lettuce. Before bed, take the breast meat out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator.

On Friday night, thaw some frozen vegetables, put on a pot of rice to cook, dice up the chicken breast while a bit of oil heats in a pan, then stir fry the vegetables and chicken.

The bulk of the cooking for the week is done on Saturday. The other days really don't involve much more than cutting up and warming up, for the most part. The oven use is mostly limited to Saturday too, other than briefly toasting Wednesday night's sandwiches. I used the simplest dishes I could think of; you should figure out ways to substitute your family's favorites. Large hams and turkeys can provide the meat ingredient for meals 2 or 3 nights a week for a couple of months. If you have the freezer space, you can make up casseroles, cook them most of the way, then cool and freeze to thaw and reheat later. If you have a grill, you can grill and freeze large batches of hamburgers, pork chops, sausages, hot dogs, and steaks all at once. Even an ordinary freezer over a refrigerator can hold a month's worth of pre-cooked meat to use in recipes.


Ami said...

I've never really thought of doing cooking ahead in exactly that way, although it makes sense, and has the added bonus of built in portion control, excellent if you're trying to pay attention to what you eat.

Back in the early 90's when Lyssa was a baby and we were struggling for me to continue to be able to stay home with her, I used to buy a ham. A roast. Eggs. Potatoes.

A typical week menu would be the baked ham one night, the roast another night, cut up ham in scalloped potatoes a 3rd night, shredded beef burritos a 4th night, ham, beef, lentils etc in a soup the 5th night. I made home made noodles to add here and there, and baked bread once a week, too. Also, jiffy corn muffin mix was 22 cents and cornbread was great with almost anything we ate.

It got a little boring. But we had plenty of food and could still make Mr Meat and Potatoes happy at dinner time.

Dawnfire said...

You know, with your wood stove, assuming it has a flat top, you have the possibilities of putting on a pot of soup when you leave for your afternoon shift, and having it ready to eat when you get home, too...

Portia said...

I used to cook on our wood stove back in NY. Made the best soups on there!