Nutrition Articles

Save Time with Big Batch Cooking

Tips for Meal Planning

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Combination Dishes
(Storage time of 3-4 months)
Bean dishes
Spaghetti or rice dishes
Lasagna (with meat or vegetables)
Casseroles
Chow mein
Soups (lentil, split pea, black bean)
Stews (beef, veal, vegetarian)
Stuffed peppers
Eggplant dishes
Meat pies
Meat loaf
Chili (lean beef or chicken)

Breads
(Storage time of 1-2 months)
Whole Grain Muffins
Fruit bread
Whole-wheat waffles or pancakes

Some foods do not freeze well and do not retain good quality after thawing. These include: cabbage, celery, lettuce, parsley, radishes, cooked egg whites, cream or custard fillings, milk sauces, sour cream, cheese or crumb toppings, mayonnaise, salad dressing, gelatin, and fried foods. Depending on the meal you’re freezing, some of these items can be added in fresh after heating up your batch.

Here are some tips to remember as you start implementing your regular Big Batch Weekends.
  • Choose recipes that are conducive to cooking in large quantity and freezing.
  • Have the right containers on hand that are appropriate for the meal size you'll want later. For example, if you want reheatable single-serve lunches or dinners, choose small plastic containers with lids or resealable baggies.
  • Use containers or bags that are easy to label. Write the date on your frozen food portion. You’ll want to reheat most foods by the third or fourth month at the latest.
  • Rotate the placement of foods in the freezer so that you’re eating the oldest ones first. First in, first out.
  • Always cool foods properly before freezing to help retain flavor and ward off growth of bacteria. Never leave prepared food at room temperature fir longer than two hours. When you defrost, do not leave food at room temperature. This encourages bacteria growth and uneven thawing. Instead, defrost on a tray in the refrigerator or in a microwave on a low power setting.
  • Trim the fat from meats and do not season prior to freezing. Seasoning before freezing shortens the storage life. Wrap meats and poultry in aluminum foil, pressing out excess air.
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About The Author

Laura Bofinger Laura Bofinger
As a freelance writer, Laura uncovers some kind of inspiration every day when she writes about health and fitness.

Member Comments

  • Living alone I rely on big batch cooking. I work long hours sometimes and cant be bothered cooking when I get home so would ALWAYS head to the takeaway joints. I bought myself a deep freezer (friends/family were initially like "why on earth do you need a freezer for just yourself?") and batch cook loads of meals. So simple in the mornings - take out my prepared lunches/dinners/s
    nacks to defrost and Im away. I always make sure I have some meals in there I can reheat in oven directly from frozen too in case I forgot to get them out in the morning (Im not a fan of microwave defrosting) - 8/11/2014 3:36:18 PM
  • I agree with KIMBERLYSWEET. - 11/9/2013 1:28:00 AM
  • I do a little bit of this...I will make chili and freeze half, or sometimes I will brown ground beef with some celery and use it for sloppy joes later. I have also done this with chicken. I even have frozen turkey burgers to eat at a later time. I make egg muffins to freeze for breakfasts at work. I work a lot and have a lot of hobbies. Doing this sort of thing helps us to eat healthy meals instead of grabbing something bad. - 5/13/2013 9:42:46 AM
  • Great tips, I have been doing this for years. It is a great way to always have nutritious meals for our family. - 12/26/2012 1:00:49 PM
  • When we make lasagne, it's a family event. Each of the kids has an assignment (cheese, noodles, sauce, meat, etc.), as do my hubby and I. We make about six to freeze, plus one for that night's meal & leftovers. Line up all the pans on a table, each person adds whatever "their" layer is, and we just keep rotating around until all the layers are finished.

    It goes quickly and we all feel great about doing something together that we can enjoy in months to come. - 8/20/2012 12:09:45 PM
  • Great article. I do this when I make salsa and marinara sauce. I make a big batch, 3 gallons or so, and put them in canning jars and a 45 minute water bath in a canning pot. I'm not sure how long the shelf life is but at least 6 months, and it is all used for meals by then anyway. - 8/17/2012 1:34:31 PM
  • SHELBRUK
    I work 12+ hours a day, six days a week, and I tend to sleep more on the only day of the week I have off. But I really like to cook as many meals as possible when I'm going to be in the kitchen!

    I never knew the freezer life of foods, so I did learn something new from this article. Thanks! - 12/13/2011 10:04:16 PM
  • PIXIESTIX6669
    Ugh, I agree...veal is NASTY...
    I don't eat any meat that's not organic...it's all really disturbing if you know where industrialized meat comes from and how it was raised...check out Food, Inc. to learn more... - 12/13/2011 11:10:11 AM
  • PIXIESTIX6669
    Big batch cooking is the secret to consistently eating healthy...I spend an afternoon each week cooking for the week, and it's a lifesaver...when coming home after a busy day, all I have to do is heat and eat...way healthier than commercially frozen frankenfood or take out...ew! - 12/13/2011 11:07:20 AM
  • BETHHONEY
    I don't think that you should be encouraging people to eat veal. It's an unhealthy food, considering the high fat content. And a baby animal was penned in a tiny cage and fattened up on food he wouldn't normally be eating, that's very inhumane. Why don't you really look into veal, how it's produced, and decide for the good of the animal to not eat that way!

    What's next, are you going to be recommending we eat fois gras? That's another example of an animal that is force fed to an extreme. Eat healthy food, people! - 12/13/2011 8:38:11 AM
  • Love crockpot cooking.
    - 12/13/2011 7:07:08 AM
  • Hahaha - I grew up in a very large family and didn't know how to cook for only 2 when I got married! Since then, I have cut down, but always freeze at least half of what I make in freezer containers, labeled & dated.
    As my daughters grew up and had their college apartments, I froze individual servings of food for them, too. They absolutely love it when they get their "care packages" of homemade foods that they grew up loving.
    Some items are suitable for preparing and freezing immediately without cooking, so I try to do that as much as I can so it tastes even fresher. Examples: meatloaf (pressed into mini bundt pans), lasagne (made in one large 12x16 pan, slightly frozen, then cut into sections for individual freezing), marinated & seasoned chicken breasts or fish fillets, etc. These I make into 2-3 person servings so they can have company, too. Don't forget to add cooking instructions taped to the lid! I also make homemade chicken soup without the starch (rice or noodles) and give them frozen packages of my homemade noodles or rice mixtures and they add them in to prevent sogginess.Their friends see these prepared meals and then beg their mothers to do the same for them now. - 11/20/2011 12:39:39 PM
  • OKIEGIRL75
    Love the idea of cooking in big batches. I have tried this before. My husband wasn't too thrilled with it, but with 4 kids and our hectic schedules I think we are going to return to this soon. - 8/30/2011 3:36:20 PM
  • DLEIMBAC
    This article says not to freeze celery which is true if you want it to look like celery afterwards. However I freeze chopped celery to use in soups, stews, and casseroles all of the time. This is a great way to keep from throwing away celery and always have it on hand when you need it to flavor a recipe. The consistency changes but if you are only using it to flavor a broth or other recipe you only need it for the flavor not for what it looks like. - 8/24/2011 12:12:07 PM
  • I am a soup nut... On a weekend I'll cook about 3 large pots of soup put them in 2 cup containters and freeze. I then have enough lunches for an entire month or more. I put the frozen container on the counter at work and when lunch comes it's somehwhat thawed so I can then just nuke it for a couple minutes! Delish... Healthy lunch. - 6/8/2011 1:53:14 PM

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