Meal Planning: Double Batch Cooking

One of the things that happens to me during the Fall is that I get overcome by this urge to “squirrel away” food! It must hearken back to my pioneer genes or something, but I love to put up food for winter, as our great-grandmothers must have done. This summer I made jam for the first time in years, so our pantry is filled with enough jam to last us until next summer. In a few weeks we’re heading North to apple country and I’m hoping to come home with 40-80 pounds of apples to make pies and applesauce.

But, in addition to these things, I’m totally drawn to filling my freezer with pre-prepped meals. I’ve loved the convenience of Once-A-Month cooking since I read the original book of the same name about 13 years ago. I don’t always love three days on my feet, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the convenience of dinner being half-prepped for me.

One shortcut that I’ve adopted is to make double and triple batches of different meals over the course of several weeks. It doesn’t take much extra time, but it pays off in big dividends. In fact, last week in the midst of unpacking, I made five quick meals for the freezer. I took 8+ pounds of chicken tenders that I bought on sale. I split them up and made three dinners’ worth of marinated chicken for the grill as well as two dinners of fajitas. So simple, so easy and it took just minutes. The best part is that since it’s still grilling weather where we live, my husband will be doing all the cooking! Yes, yes, and again, I say, YES!

So, this week, I’m planning my meals to be

a) simple OR
b) a double or triple batch of something so that my dinner prep time is serving more than one purpose.

Here’s what I’m thinking of for this week’s dinners:

Beans and Rice (make extra beans to freeze)
Chimichangas (not sure how these will freeze, but they go great in FishPapa’s lunchbox the next day, so we’ll test it out.)
Lasagna (freeze)
Baked Chicken
Chicken Pot Pie (freeze)
Pizza (freeze extra dough)
Carnitas (freeze)

For meal planning inspiration, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie where readers share their real life menu plans each week.

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Comments

  1. ladyevelynscrew says:

    I have just started this too! I triple some meals and write out a month long menu. I have one freeze week, where I freeze the meals I am going to use later on in the month. It works for me and I just have to pick up a few items for the rest of the month. That book looks intriguing, I'll have to check it out!

  2. Heather Solos says:

    We've had great luck freezing chimichangas. I mean, the frozen burrito were onto something, right?
    I approach freezer stocking in the same manner. I just can't dedicate full days to cooking right now. Maybe in a year or two when the kids are more self-sufficient.

  3. Moms in Need of Mercy says:

    How funny! I just posted about the EXACT same thing on Saturday!! http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2009/10/mercy-for-mealtime-once-month-cooking.html
    I was trying to figure out ways to make once-a-month cooking fit my budget and frugal ways. That's what I was thinking, too: like you said, buy what's on sale, and make a lot out of that then too. Wondering if anyone else has any advice for making this approach frugal-friendly?

  4. I'm troubleshooting that whole thing re: frugal OAMC right now. I think part of it is just cooking what's on sale, instead of choosing what you really want to eat.

  5. Faithfulmom2 says:

    I am going back to Investment Cooking each month, a different meat. I did chicken last month and this month will be pork. I use the New Woman's Day Cookbook. It lays it all out with good directions. http://www.amazon.com/New-Womans-Day-Cookbook-Occasion/dp/1933231017 F

  6. If you freeze your chimichangas in foil, you can just pop them in the oven and bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes. Super easy dinner prep!

  7. Juggling Motherhood in New Zealand says:

    I have two obstacles to OAMC:
    1. Not knowing what to freeze
    2. Room in the freezer

    1. Not knowing what to freeze
    Thank you for sharing what you can and can not freeze. I also appreciate how you express how you are not sure how things will turn out. I'm thinking I need to do a bit more experimenting!

    2. Room in the freezer
    I think it is time for me to clear out all the extra veges and meat I have hoarded and turn them into meals!!

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. I use a variation of once a month cooking, but I use my pressure canner instead. I have jars of homemade convenience food, which is great for avoiding take-out. It's guaranteed to be good and quick!

  9. What a great idea!

  10. Heather is right. Chimichangas freeze very well. Just cook them a little UNDER since the filling is already cooked. You can also thaw them in the fridge and just put them on a tray in the oven to reheat and finish browning. My mom did it all the time growing up.

  11. I've never made chimis because I always thought they were complicated. Sounds good!

  12. Nice menu! I measure a mexican restaurant by the Chimichanga as well :)

  13. Griffin Miller says:

    Thanks for this post! I am pregnant with our first child and will be planning on stocking the freezer in time for baby's arrival! This approach will be great…so helpful!

  14. Rona's Home Page says:

    I actually made 2 meals in one day but a month's worth Wow!
    I love MPM especially since my husband and I lost our jobs. I'm looking for inexpensive and healthy meals for our family of three.
    Well, gotta get back to the laundry and Dr. Laura.

  15. TheRoosterChick says:

    I'm a huge fan of the double batch cooking. I can get in and get out, never overwhelmed. lol

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to prepare several meals in advance. My friend Jessica gives some great tips on make ahead meals here and here. Or maybe you can lower your standards on a few things until we finish, knowing that [...]

  2. [...] Twitter’s been hopping with different bloggers’ updates. Like I mentioned on Sunday, my plan was to double and triple some big batches of dinners to stash away in my freezer. Well, I went to [...]

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