Make the Most of Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is terrific. Yes, it is efficient to plan ahead, make a list for the market and then come home and cook for several hours. Nothing gives you a feeling of well-being like all those home-cooked meals made and ready to go for every night of the week. Batch cooking isn’t just for dinner, though. Your breakfasts and lunches can benefit, too.

Batch It for Breakfast

Batch cooking adds the convenience factor that makes a hot breakfast during the week possible. In the winter months, hot steel-cut oatmeal sounds so good. Simmering on the stove for half an hour then covered with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon… but who has time for that?

Instead, make a big pot of steel-cut oatmeal on the weekend, line a large-cup muffin pan with plastic wrap, fill each cup with prepared oatmeal and freeze for a few hours. Pop the oatmeal portions out of the pan (plastic wrap makes it easy) and then freeze individually. Weekday mornings, put a portion in a bowl, heat in the microwave and you’re ready for the butter and brown sugar. Toss some frozen blueberries or strawberries right into the oatmeal while it’s still hot.

If you’re making a big breakfast on the weekends, make extra pancakes or French toast. Freeze them individually for a Sunday treat on Wednesday.

Batch It for Lunch

Give a fast food office lunch a whole new meaning with homemade soups, stews and curries. It saves time and money! Freeze your soup in individual muffin cups, just like the oatmeal. Leeks, potatoes and parsnips are all winter produce that are perfect for hearty soups. Winter radishes can add color and crunch to a quick green side salad.

Make a big batch of white or brown rice and freeze in individual muffin-cup portions, too… (If you don’t already have one, a large-cup muffin pan is in your future!) Serve your soup over rice for a heartier meal.

Batch It for Dinner

Don’t you love those movies where people come home from a long day at work, and dinner seems to magically appear on its own? If you have a batch-cooked casserole already in the freeze then you can relax while dinner bakes in the oven.

The secret to heating batch-cooked casseroles and stews easily is to plan ahead. When you are batch cooking and have prepared several casseroles, stop before baking them. Select the pan or dish you want to bake a casserole in (it should be freezer/oven-safe) and line the pan with plastic wrap. Fill with the casserole, and freeze. Then pop the casserole out of the pan, wrap it well and store in the freezer. When you’re ready to bake the casserole – unwrap the casserole and put it back in the same pan to bake. Easy!

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