On batch cooking, plus a make-ahead & freeze cookbook giveaway

It’s a cozy Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting here watching the cold rain fall, thinking of all the times batch cooking has saved our family dinner time. Today, Danny is laid up with a nasty cold, and I’m juggling the busy household on my own, attempting to get ahead just a little bit for the upcoming week.

I’ve brought Danny a mug of hot ginger tea with honey, and am the afternoon has filled up with washing school uniforms, baking cookies for lunches, wrapping up homework, and making a M-F menu plan. Still, the boys want me to play a game of Sorry with them, the baby’s getting into everything, and oh!wouldyoulookatthetime? the Twitter chat I’m co-hosting is starting in 30 minutes.

I’m flying, and although I’m unsure if I’ll get half the things done I need to, I’m comforted with the fact that at least dinner is taken care of. Once again, batch cooking comes to the rescue.

We’re going to have a hot, balanced home cooked dinner, thanks to a hearty chicken & red lentil coconut curry I’m reheating. All that is required is for me to steam some broccoli and dinner is served. Maybe we’ll even taste-test the cookies for dessert.

No matter how busy the day gets, it’s really important to have us sit down as a family together for dinner; batch cooking is my time-saving tip to make that happen.

Today our Eat Well, Spend Less team of bloggers are talking about time-saving tricks in the kitchen – and highlighting Jessica Fisher’s new cookbook: Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, too! Read on for more batch cooking tips and a chance to win a copy of Jess’s book.

On Batch Cooking

The apple pie in the photo at the top of the post? That was the reward of a little batch cooking. After an outing to the apple orchard, it’s easy to throw together a pie when there’s a a couple of pre-made pie crusts in the freezer.

Contrary to popular belief, batch cooking doesn’t mean merely simmering a vat of spaghetti sauce or a quadrupling a recipe of chocolate-chip cookies, but expands to much, much more. Jessica’s book highlights meats and seafood, meatless mains, soups, and breads, and even desserts. Getting back to the apple pie, she makes up four of Nanna’s Apple Pies at a time and freezes a couple raw for a comforting impromptu dessert at a later date. So smart.

Jessica guest posted not too long ago about the benefits of freezer cooking, so I won’t reiterate everything, but here’s a quick summary. Freezer cooking can help you:

  • Buy yourself some time on busy nights.
  • Make good use of your produce box.
  • Feed your baby homemade purees.
  • Take a vacation — from cooking.
  • and much more.

Batch cooking also helps you spread some love. Case in point. On Saturday I attended a baby shower for a friend who is going to welcome a sweet baby girl any day now. While we heaped presents on this first-time mother, we also gave the shower a delicious spin by each contributing a frozen, home cooked meal for her freezer.

I’ve long been an advocate of preparing heat & serve meals for others, dishes that are nourishing, travel well and freeze well. I’ve got a list of suitable recipes that fit the bill, but I can’t wait to change up my repertoire with new inspiration from Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook.

If you’re looking for suggestions for recipes that are suitable for freezing, adapt well to big batches, and provide a fresh take on family favorites, start with these 7 Favorite Do-Ahead Dinners for Winter. As is usually the case with young children, my boys palates haven’t changed that much and they stay in the regular rotation for dinner meals.

Here are several more recipe that adapt well to freezing and are perfect for this time of year.

This month, the Eat Well, Spend Less girls are talking about saving time in the kitchen. Don’t miss their posts:

Giveaway!

** This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to our winner, Maryann!**

Jessica’s thorough and well-written cookbook boasts 200 solid recipes, as well as a host of tips on subjects like creating a freezer cooking plan, buying a deep freeze, and Christmas cookie production. This cookbook is perfect for any busy household trying to eat a real food diet without spending hours in the kitchen each day.

Thanks to the publishers at Harvard Common Press, I have a copy of Jessica’s Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (NYM Series) to giveaway!

To enter: Leave a comment on this post and tell me something delicious you’ve made ahead and frozen.

That’s it!

Giveaway ends on Tuesday, October 16, at 11:59PM.  Good luck to all!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. I just made a big batch of Thai Chicken Curry Soup last night and froze half. Yum!

  2. Kathleen B says:

    I freeze my homemade pizza for busy nights…so yummy!

  3. I always freeze soups, especially during the Fall and Winter. Makes it so easy for those nights you don’t have time to cook!

  4. Soups. Lots of soups. And I always make more dried beans than we will eat so that I can freeze them with their liquid.

  5. Ive been freezing a lot of muffins lately. My favorite are like a baked oatmeal with pumpkin. Yum.

  6. Thanks for this reminder. I would love a cookbook that gives me clear ideas of what I can fix ahead and freeze for later.

  7. I usually keep ingredients handy in the freezer rather than whole meals. Cooked ground beef or turkey can be made into burritos, added to spaghetti sauce etc. Shredded Chicken and whole &/or refried beans are also staples in my freezer.

  8. It isn’t much, but I try to make my own vegetable broth and freeze it. That way all I have to do is defrost it when I want to use it in soups. I’ve also froze home made pie crusts before and it was really nice to have the pie crust all ready when I needed/wanted to make a pie.

  9. I make a simple casserole that is easy to vary – one cup cooked rice, about 1-1/2 cups meat (chicken or ground beef), 2 cups veggies, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup, savory herbs like thyme, dill, oregano, 1 cup cheese and one egg. I make two at a time and freeze one in a gallon plastic bag flat. It is easy to cook the same night frozen – just soak in hot water, break it up and finish thawing in the microwave!

  10. I made rolls for Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ahead last year. It made life soooooo much easier!

  11. Jennifer M. says:

    I just made some egg rolls and packaged them in groups of 2 so they’re just right for a snack!

  12. Oh…I think I need this book! I am really trying to plan better – waste less! I have cleaned out my freezer, made a chart of what’s on each shelf and now am pulling out the food to make a quick home made dinner on those crazy nights – we only have 2 of those a week. I have meatloaf – which I bake in mini cupcake pans – kids love them! My personal favorite is tortilla soup. At this point my system is to make dinner, maybe eat it one other time for left overs and then freeze the rest for busy nights, I can’t wait to check out all the links on this post to add to my menu. Thank you for the inspiration.

    April

  13. I am vegetarian but dh isn’t so I rely on my freezer a lot! There is a great roll up spinach lasagna recipe at
    skinny taste.com – I now have 8 more meals in the freezer for me!

  14. Mary Foster says:

    I make a chicken and rice casserole that my kids love because we sprinkle crushed potato chips on top before baking it – it’s the little things, right?!? I also just started a casserole swap with other moms in my neighborhood and would LOVE this cookbook to find new recipes to use. We each make 6 of the same thing and then swap so we all end up with 6 casseroles in our freezer. Love it!!

  15. I freeze my homemade bread!

  16. Italian Shepherd’s pie

  17. I have made spaghetti sauce and chicken burritos to keep in the freezer, but would love more ideas!

  18. Homemade bread, chopped peppers (not cooking, just preserving and creating a convenience for winter), bolognese sauce, and broth have all been frozen here!

  19. I freeze half of every batch of rolls I make– the other half would go to waste if I didn’t, and I love having some already made in the freezer when strapped for time.

  20. Freezer is full of soup, sauces, stuffed peppers, chili, ratatouille, beans and jambalaya – lots of quick pull and heat meals for busy night. I love these posts on freeze ahead meals. Thanks for the ideas!

  21. I love make-ahead and freeze meals! I always keep Cuban black beans and homemade refried beans in the freezer.

  22. Chili!

  23. I love to make pizza dough and freeze it for later. Quick sauces and thawed dough make pizza night easy!

  24. Erin Messing says:

    Taquitos. So delicious. I just love freezer cooking…..it makes those busy days so much easier.

  25. I usually freeze lasagna, pies, muffins but would love to get more meals made ahead. Would also love a deep freezer.

  26. I made a yummy, warm pot of Curried Sweet Potatoes and Lentils and put it in the freezer. This dish screams fall and I can’t wait for the perfect windy, cool day to put this on the stove for dinner!

  27. What a terrific book! I recently made a double batch of spicy gumbo and froze one for a rainy fall day when gumbo seems like a necessity!

  28. I generally only freeze roasted garlic and caramelized onions for the weekday since there’s not much room that can be had, unfortunately. One day, though!

  29. I recently tried Thai Chicken Enchiladas, and froze half the recipe. They were so good, I couldn’t wait to pull out the frozen ones!

  30. We love tacos at our house. I make a lime cilantro chicken for tacos. I love to freeze several and when we want a change from regular tacos I throw it in the crockpot, so easy, so yummy. 🙂

  31. I freeze as much as possible…soups, seasoned and cooked meats of all kinds, casseroles, breads. My favorite trick is freezing unbaked cookies though, since it means that when my hubby and I want a little something sweet at the end of a long day, all I have to do is pull out a few and throw them in the oven — no mess, and no huge amount of leftovers either. (Plus, I have a cousin who used to work at Mrs. Fields’ and he said they bake all their cookies from frozen dough, at lower temps [250], for longer [40-45 mins], to that great texture!)

  32. I enjoy making curry, lasagna and mac & cheese ahead of time. I freeze in small portions and keep some at work so that I always have a back up lunch and dont have to rely on buying food nearby since I don’t work in an area with lots of healthy options. It has saved me lots of mornings when I am running late and don’t have time to pack something.

  33. I don’t have much of a repotoire (which is why this book sounds great) but veggie lasagne is a favourite that I can feel good about serving as I sneak in extra nutrition by adding pumpkin purée to the tomato sauce.

  34. Sara Bugler says:

    I always make extra soup to freeze…but morel enchiladas are a favorite freezer meal in our house. During morel season we always make extra batches of the yummy enchiladas to put in the freezer. Looking forward to the cookbook as I have just joined a meal exchange and I need more freezer friendly family recipes!!

  35. I have peach pie filling in my freezer made with local peaches. I think a taste of summer readily available will get me through a cold winter!

  36. I like to make extra cookie dough & freeze in balls….quick & easy when you need some cookies – can even dump mixed kinds in the ziplock bag & bake a variety! The biggest problem is keeping the snitchers from eating them all before their baked!

  37. Soups! Always different and can be frozen. Works well in fall and winter!

  38. I tend to prepare and freeze ingredients rather than whole meals, as our freezer space is pretty limited. But it’s great to pull out sauteed mushrooms or red peppers, frozen raspberries, or tomato sauce to whip up quick meals.

  39. Muffins for lunch boxes, waffles and cookie dough. I really want to start doing more freezing for meals though – for those crazy days when I’m running low on time and/or inspiration!

  40. I absolutely love making big batches of pizzas and taking them out when needed. Who needs a frozen pizza from a box, when you can have a wholesome homemade one! That and pies. I love making pies ahead of time and popping them out of the freezer when I need them. People are so impressed with my ability to whip things up so quickly! : )

  41. I made a batch of spaghetti. I think the homemade sauce tastes better after being frozen. Thanks for the giveaway!

  42. I just do the basics: spaghetti sauce, meatballs, chili…so nice to have something easy to make on crazy weeknights.

  43. I doubled a sweet potato soup recipe this week and froze half of it. I’m due with my third child in November and I’ve been thinking about freezer cooking a lot! I think it’ll really be helpful if I could put some meals all ready to go in the freezer before baby gets here.

  44. Toshau Leonard says:

    I am lame the only things I freeze is stock for soup. I desperately need this book 🙂

  45. Cookies. That’s it. But our eating out spending is outta control. This may be a good solution to try!

  46. We love to freeze chicken pocket pies (from Mad Hungry cookbook) and also pumpkin muffins (from Angry Chicken blog).

  47. When I make enchiladas, I like to make an extra pan to throw in the freezer. I have a pan of green chile enchiladas with chicken and corn in there right now! I also can’t seem to make less than a full pot of soup, so there’s usually soup in the freezer. With a new baby on the way, though, I need to get better at make-ahead cooking!

  48. Sherrie Branson says:

    Our favorite make ahead meal is tamales!!!

    This cookbook would be so awesome to have. We’ve moved to our new homestead and our suppers have been such a challenge because chore time is right before dinnertime, so coming up with something already prepared and reheating before we head out to chores would accomplish so much.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  49. I try to always have at least one meal in the freezer for those busy nights I don’t get to dinner in time. Recently, I purchased a bunch of zucchinni for a great price so right now I have lots of shredded zucchini waiting to be used. A favorite way to use it is tossing it in with a jar of pasta sauce to give it a little more homemade and veggie goodness.

  50. chili, soup, enchiladas, lasagna, you name it! i like to freeze in individual portions, when possible – great for take-to-work lunches 🙂