Mum 2 Mum: Do You Cook in Batches?

It’s late in the afternoon and once again I think, “What will I make for dinner?” because although I menu plan for the fortnight, I don’t actually allocate each meal to a day, looking instead at the list and thinking, “What can I be bothered making!” So there I am with, “What will I make for dinner?” and about to consult my list on the fridge when I suddenly remember that dinner is already cooked! I made two meals last night so tonight it is all about reheating and adding a side. Woohoo!

This sort of cooking in batches is new to me. If I am making a bolognaise sauce, I will double up the mince and make a chilli con carne, shepherd’s pie or lasagne as well, splitting the two dishes partway through cooking and finishing them off individually – one for tonight and one for tomorrow. And it always feels so good to ‘skip’ a night’s food preparation (which is the bit I really dislike) and cooking 🙂

So my question today is, do you cook in batches? And do you pre-prepare and freeze meals? And if you do, what sorts of meals are great to cook ahead? Or easy to cook in bigger batches? Or freeze well?

I would love to do more cooking in batches and your suggestions would be so handy! Feel free to link me up to a recipe too if you have one!

What is Mum 2 Mum? Mum 2 Mum is a place where as online friends we can share a little of our own experiences, so why not pop in for a cuppa and join the conversation.

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  1. Super Sarah says:

    I blogged about this on the weekend! I make up a big batch of mince which starts out as spag bol and then half turns into mexican mince with mashed kidney beans for Nicole’s (The planning queen!) mexibake or my baked enchiladas! Other meals that I make bulk versions of are stirfried chicken, I make a big batch and stirfry it with a little soy and sugar and spring onions and then I can use that for an actual stirfry with veg or the next night it goes into wraps or pasta. Also I roast veg which gets used in pasta sauce or salads or risotto… its so lovely opening the fridge/freezer and knowing that any number of dinners are readily available to me!

    1. Oooh, baked enchiladas, yum! I love the stir fry idea, that sounds really easy as well.

  2. I don’t do it regularly, but at specific times, such as leading up to the holidays, before having a baby, or just when I know life is about to get real crazy. Some of my favorites are tomato soup, prepped veggies for fajitas, chicken pot pies, shepherd pies, hamburger/noodle dishes, and taco meat. I think if my freezer was bigger I would do it more often!

  3. I do, I also cook two separate meals at once, so all the chopping board prep etc is only out and needing one wash. Today I made spagbol for tomorrow while I made friend rice for tonight. Spagbol better on day two anyway 🙂

  4. Staki Mama says:

    I will do a big cook up. Make a plan & shop for what I need or mostly shop the fridge / pantry & then make a plan. Last Thursday I cooked pumpkin soup, barley soup, potato & pumpkin curry fried rice & spring rolls, crunchy potato cakes (so easy & yummy – boil potato, mash roughly with fried onion garlic & paprika mix in some tasty cheese use cookie cutters to make shapes on a tray bake for 20 mins) I do this when I know I will have help with the dishes or I will invite a friend over with her kids she watches the kids I make a little extra & send a few meals home with her.

  5. I always either cook in batches or cook double the amount so there’s leftovers the next day. Bugger cooking two nights in a row!! Apricot chicken is a great recipe to freeze, you can either freeze. Just found the easiest version on the back of the apricot nectar can, I doctored it a bit with a few veggies and it was delicious that night as well as 2 weeks later after I defrosted it for a meal.
    Here it is….

    Apricot Chicken
    1 kg chicken thighs cut up (you can use breast or chicken legs if you want)
    Packet french onion mix
    Around 600 ml apricot nectar (if you use more chicken use more nectar to cover)
    6 button mushrooms sliced
    1 onion sliced
    small tin apricots drained (if desired)
    salt and pepper.

    Lay chicken pieces in deep baking tray and spread sliced onion and mushrooms on top.
    Meanwhile in pot
    Mix packet of french onion soup with apricot nectar and bring to simmer until soup dissolves.
    Pour over chicken.
    Spread drained apricots over the top and sprinkle all with salt and pepper if required.
    Cover with foil and bake in moderate oven for about an hour (depending on how big you cut your chicken up).

    Serve with mash or rice.
    Notes: I usually cook up about 1.5kg of chicken and then there’s heaps for left overs or to freeze. It freezes really well.
    You can add frozen peas/corn/carrots just before you start baking if you want more veggies.

    Enjoy, Jacqui

  6. I like cooking two or three meals at once and doing a big bulk freeze of meals. Lasagna, spag bol, curries, stews, strogonoff, soups, I’ll freeze anything! Cooking like this seems to work better in winter, but I also do it summer and serve meals with salad.

  7. My children are Gluten and Dairy Free so isnt many options for a takeaways or anything, or like pre processed foods nuggests etc, so when i go shopping i often make tem up btaches of gf/df meatball, sausages, chicken nugests etc, so i can still cheat a little sometimes. I also always doubl any pasta sauces i make and freeze, and often do the same with stews. Anything for an easy night i say

  8. Soups and chili is #1 for big batch cooking.

    1. It can be cooked all in one pot so clean up is easy.

    2. If you’ve made a soup or chili before you can make it again…without a recipe. They are so easy they come out tasty even when you swap out some of the vegetables or other ingredients for other things.

    3. After the initial prep, you can get other things done while it simmers on the stove. Super simple!

    4. Want to make it different for leftovers the second day? Add rice or pasta. Voila! A Quick new meal.

  9. Michelle M says:

    We have two reheat nights a week, when we eat from the freezer. I’m always trying to think of options for meals that I can prepare early, cook easily, are healthy, the kids will eat and that freeze well, so I’m so glad you started this conversation! It’s difficult to find meals that meet all these criteria!

    On high rotation at my place at the moment are spag bol, sweet and sour pork (homemade sauce from scratch, pork, lots of veges and rice) and risotto of chicken, roast pumpkin, baby spinach, pine nuts and lemon (I usually sneak in some grated zucchini too). I do a baked risotto that doesn’t require me to stand at the stove stirring for ages – I just saute the meat and onion, add the rice and stir for a minute, add all the stock and stir for another minute then add the veges. Cover the pot and put in the oven for approx 45mins. Take out, add the cheese and any other bits and serve. Easy peasy.

    1. I would love to know the stock to rice ratio for your risotto, Michelle.

      1. Michelle M says:

        I cook heaps when I make it, so you may want to adjust these quantities!!
        3 cups arborio rice
        6-7 cups stock
        800gm to 1kg chicken (doesn’t matter what cut – whatever is on sale!)
        2 onions
        pumpkin – roughly 2-3 cups cubed and roasted
        1 zucchini grated
        2 lemons – rind and juice
        large handful of baby spinach leaves
        handful of pinenuts
        lots of grated tasty cheese!


        1. Michelle M says:

          just wanted to add – I put the roasted pumpkin, spinach, pinenuts and cheese in at the end, stir it through well, pop it back in the oven for 5mins (while I get plates etc out) then pull it out and serve.

          Just looked back over this and it’s a bit all over the shop – hope it makes sense to you!!

  10. After my youngest daughter was born in December I have been doing this on a regular basis – to the point where I feel like I must be feeding the girls junk food because dinner is so quick to put together. I make bulk batches of meatballs, chicken schnitzel, burger patties, vegetarian chilli, soups, risotto, pasta sauce, chicken kebabs… it makes everything so easy, and means getting through the ‘witching hour’ alot more tolerable!

  11. I would love to have a large freezer just for this. I read about these people who will cook like non-stop all weekend and have like a month’s worth in the freezer. Are you kidding me! I want that! I love prep and cooking except when money is really tight and we are busy. Sometimes I just can’t be creative anymore, a break in the freezer would be nice.

  12. I cooked in batches when I was in grad school and my children in were in elementary school. It was one of the best things that I have done. It decreased stress, my husband and girls could easily fix supper when I was in class. It was awesome!! My girls are now grown, one a newlywed and one a college student. We have been talking about having a big Cooking Day when my college girl comes home in August, so that we can have fast easy meals on hand. Here is the website of 30 Day Gourmet, the cookbook that I used:

  13. I tried cooking in batches and freezing, but it didn’t work all that well for us. We don’t eat much meat or chicken and all the freezer-friendly dishes I found called for either. If anyone knows good vegetarian batch-cooking recipes, please let me know.

  14. I must admit to not enjoying eating left-overs or frozen food but we do make spag bol sauce and freeze it! I make it in the slow cooker (from scratch rather than using a jar) and it’s really tasty freshly-cooked or out of the freezer. It has been our saviour this winter on busy work/school/childcare days when dinner needs to be instantly on the table when we walk in the door at 6pm!!

    I just need to discover a few more of these meals that I don’t mind eating from the freezer!!

  15. My menu plan isn’t for set days either, I prefer to just take something of the list that I feel like that night.

    My mum used to batch cook when I was a kid, working and having six kids made dinner time a lot more easier…the only thing I do make alot of to freeze is soup.

  16. Michelle M says:

    I have a question for those that do freeze meals – what do you freeze in?

    I used to just use whatever plastic containers we had (old takeway containers or GladWare usually) but I’m trying to reduce our use of plastic (avoiding BPA primarily, but all the other flow-on positive environmental effects too). BPA free containers are more expensive, so I only have a small stash of those so I’m not keeping the freezer as stocked as I’d like.

    I’d love to hear what other people use. Thanks!!

    1. Marissa M says:

      I like to use my pyrex glass dishes for things like lasagna or cannelloni and then I tightly foil wrap the top. I find it doesn’t keep as long since there isn’t a really tight seal, so those meals get used first. We also use the foil containers that come with the foil lids; they come in different sizes and depending on what you’re cooking, you can wash them and re-use them. We use glass jars again from sauces, jams etc.

  17. I am big on batch cooking especially in Winter, gives me a night off regularely! I cook Stephanie Alexander’s bolognese sauce every fortnight and we have it with pasta and another time made into lasagne. We also have apricot chicken freezing half with the rice for another meal, moroccan meatballs, soups, savory pie fillings, fried rice and osso bucco. I love to cook but even I have nights were I can’t be bothered thinking of what to have.

  18. Was raised on batch cooking and have been doing it for years, now with a 3 year old boy who’s not the worlds greatest eater it’s at whole new level.

    1kg batches of Meatballs are my new speciality, usually with a tomato and finely grated carrot sauce and all sorts of different insides. I also buy dips when they are on sale and encorporate for a range of difference flavours -rocket & cashew are great, but recently did beef, english spinach and beetroot dip! Lasagna also a classic.
    Other things; butter chicken (cut with yoghurt for the littlies), lamb korma made with mince and tiny diced potato and onion. Lamb shank casseroles in winter with grated vegies. All of these good on brown rice or pasta as you-know-who hasn’t taken to mashed potato 🙁
    I also make home made pasta sauce at the same time as I am baking a roast to make use of the oven. Really simple – stacks of ripe tomatoes, red capiscum, some onion and garlic, light coating of olive oil and stick on the bottom of the oven for a couple of hours. Add basil or herbs of prefernce. Blend to consistency you like. I either freeze in the cube trays that we used when he was a baby or in meal batches with cooked mince stirred through. the advantage of the cubes is you can defrost enough for just one meal.
    The other thing is finding a good supplier of chinese dumplings – we get great ones from one of the chicken vendors at Melbourne’s Victoria markets. A serve of 5 plus fruit and yoghurt is often more than enough for my eater and guaranteed to go down every single time. I freeze them in batches; after work I can pull out a packet, put on stove, walk around the corner to pick him up from child care and by the time I get home, dinner is ready. The real trick is not eating them yourself 🙂

    Good luck everyone.

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